Overpronation is a term which is used more and more frequently by runners and exercisers these days, but what is overpronation and is it bad? Overpronation is excessive pronation of the feet when walking and running, and it can place people at risk of developing foot problems. Knowing the degree to which you pronate is important in order to select the correct footwear and exercise shoes. If you pronate excessively you could be placing an excessive strain on your feet, however overpronators can also place an excessive strain on the ankles, legs, knees, hips and lower back. Runners often claim to be an overpronator or even an underpronator or supinator. These terms may very well be viewed in a negative light when they really are not a problem at all. On the other hand people may be overpronators and not even know about it and could be at a high risk of developing a musculoskeletal problem.
Congenital "Flat Feet" - an individual may be born with feet that lack an appropriately supportive arch thereby predisposing the individual to this foot condition. Excessive Weight (Obesity) Too much weight on the foot from either obesity or pregnancy may be a factor. Repetitive Impact walking on flat, hard surfaces continuously places unnatural stress on the foot arch.
Not all foot injuries affecting runners are necessarily down to a particular running gait; it is rarely that simple to diagnose how a foot problem developed . Simply being an overpronator does not mean that a foot injury has been caused by the running gait and it could be due to a number of factors. However mild to severe overpronators tend to be at a higher risk of developing musculoskeletal problems due to the increased stresses and strains which are placed on the body when the foot does not move in an optimum manner. The following injuries are frequently due to overpronation of the feet. Tarsal tunnel syndrome. Shin splints. Anterior compartment syndrome. Plantar fasciitis. Achilles tendonitis. Bunions. Sesamoiditis. Stress fractures. Back and hip pain. Ankle pain.
Look at your soles of your footwear: Your sneaker/shoes will display heavy wear marks on the outside portion of the heel and the inside portion above the arch up to the top of the big toe on the sole. The "wet-foot" test is another assessment. Dip the bottom of your foot in water and step on to a piece of paper (brown paper bag works well). Look at the shape of your foot. If you have a lot of trouble creating an arch, you likely overpronate. An evaluation from a professional could verify your foot type.
Non Surgical Treatment
Side Step with Opposite Reach. This exercise is designed to load the "bungee cord system" of the gluteal muscle and its opposite, latissimus dorsi muscle to keep the foot from overpronating. Because the opposite arm swings across the front leg when walking, this exercise creates tension in the muscles all the way from the front foot, across the back of the hips and back, to the fingers of the opposite hand. Movement Directions. Stand with left foot on top of the dome of the BT. (Note: For added balance, the right foot can tap on the ground, if needed). Reach right leg out to the side of the BT, and tap the ground while squatting down on the left side and reaching right arm across the left knee. Push down with left big toe while squatting. This activates the arch of the left foot and strengthens all the stabilizing muscles on the left side of the lower body. Return to starting position. Perform 8 to 10 repetitions on each leg.
Duck stance: Stand with your heels together and feet turned out. Tighten the buttock muscles, slightly tilt your pelvis forwards and try to rotate your legs outwards. You should feel your arches rising while you do this exercise.
Calf stretch:Stand facing a wall and place hands on it for support. Lean forwards until stretch is felt in the calves. Hold for 30 seconds. Bend at knees and hold for a further 30 seconds. Repeat 5 times.
Golf ball:While drawing your toes upwards towards your shins, roll a golf ball under the foot between 30 and 60 seconds. If you find a painful point, keep rolling the ball on that spot for 10 seconds.
Big toe push: Stand with your ankles in a neutral position (without rolling the foot inwards). Push down with your big toe but do not let the ankle roll inwards or the arch collapse. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times. Build up to longer times and fewer repetitions.
Ankle strengthener: Place a ball between your foot and a wall. Sitting down and keeping your toes pointed upwards, press the outside of the foot against the ball, as though pushing it into the wall. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times.
Arch strengthener: Stand on one foot on the floor. The movements needed to remain balanced will strengthen the arch. When you are able to balance for 30 seconds, start doing this exercise using a wobble board.