Overpronation and underpronation describe general foot movements. These terms do not necessarily describe a medical problem with a foot. For example, you can overpronate and not have any problems or symptoms at all. It is important to have your foot structure and symptoms adequately assessed by your prescribing physician and a qualified practitioner. Once the underlying conditions and mechanical faults are assessed, an appropriate treatment plan including possible orthotic and footwear recommendations can be made.
Overpronation often occurs in people with flat feet, whose plantar fascia ligament is too flexible or too long, and therefore unable to properly support the longitudinal arch of the foot. People tend to inherit the foot structure that leads to overpronation. In a normal foot the bones are arranged so that two arches are formed, the longitudinal and the transverse. Ligaments hold all the bones in their correct positions, and tendons attach muscles to bones. If the bones are held together too loosely, they will tend to move inwards as this is the easiest direction for them to go. Over time the soft tissue structures will adjust to the misalignment and the foot will become permanently over-flexible, with a flat arch.
Overpronation can lead to injuries and pain in the foot, ankle, knee, or hip. Overpronation puts extra stress on all the bones in the feet. The repeated stress on the knees, shins, thighs, and pelvis puts additional stress on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the lower leg. This can put the knee, hip, and back out of alignment, and it can become very painful.
If you cannot afford to get a proper gait analysis completed, having someone observe you on a treadmill from behind will give you an idea if you are an overpronator. It is possible to tell without observing directly whether you are likely to be an overpronator by looking at your foot arches. Check your foot arch height by standing in water and then on a wet floor or piece of paper which will show your footprint. If your footprints show little to no narrowing in the middle, then you have flat feet or fallen arches. This makes it highly likely that you will overpronate to some degree when running. If you have low or fallen arches, you should get your gait checked to see how much you overpronate, and whether you need to take steps to reduce the level to which you overpronate. Another good test is to have a look at the wear pattern on an old pair of trainers. Overpronators will wear out the outside of the heel and the inside of the toe more quickly than other parts of the shoe. If the wear is quite even, you are likely to have a neutral running gait. Wear primarily down the outside edge means that you are a supinator. When you replace your running shoes you may benefit from shoes for overpronation. Motion control or stability running shoes are usually the best bet to deal with overpronation.
Non Surgical Treatment
If pronation is diagnosed before the age of five it can usually be treated in such a manner that the bones and joints will be aligned properly as growth continues. This may prevent the arch from collapsing, as well as allowing the muscles of the leg to enter the foot without twisting. With proper and early treatment, the foot will not turn out at the ankle, and the child?s gait will improve. Treatment for pronation in children may include: night braces, custom-made orthotics, and exercises. These treatments usually continue until growth is complete, and then the adult may need to wear custom-made orthotics to prevent the pronation from returning (the foot, as every other part of our body, tends to return to its original form if preventive measures are not taken). One side note: frequently, pediatricians will wait too long, hoping that the child will ?outgrow? the problem. By the time they realize that the child?s feet will not improve, it is too late to change the foot. In these cases, custom-made orthotics is used to prevent the pronation from becoming worse.
Wearing the proper footwear plays a key role as a natural way to help pronation. Pronated feet need shoes that fit well, provide stability, contain supportive cushioning, are comfortable and allow enough room for your foot to move without causing pain or discomfort. Putting special inner heel wedges, known as orthotics, into your shoes can support a flatfoot while lowering risks of developing tendinitis, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. More extensive cases may require specially fitted orthopaedic shoes that support the arches.