Overpronation is the most common abnormality found in the foot, and for this reason, is the most studied. The term that most people attribute to overpronation is ?flat feet.? Pronation is the rolling in of the foot and the collapse of the arch. Every person pronates to some extent and this is a necessary moment in the normal walking cycle as it allows the forefoot to make complete contact with the ground. Overpronation is when a person pronates too much and for too long. This places excess stress on the tendons and ligaments in the foot and ankle.
Flat feet don't automatically mean you have a problem. The problem can be divided into a flexible flat foot or rigid flat foot. The rigid flat foot is one that does not change shape when the foot becomes weight bearing. i.e. it does not go through the excessive motion of pronation. Generally speaking this foot does not provide too many problems. The flexible flat foot is the type that when it becomes weight bearing the foot and ankle tends to roll in (pronates) too far. This type of person will often say I have great arches but when I stand up much of this arch disappears as the foot excessively pronates When the foot is excessively pronating and causing problems like sore ankles, feet or knees when standing or exercising then arch support is extremely important to restore the foot structure.
Overpronation causes alterations in proper muscle recruitment patterns leading to tightness in the outside of the ankle (lateral gastrocnemius, soleus, and peroneals). This tightness can lead to weakness in the opposing muscles such as the medial gastrocnemius, anterior tibialis, and posterior tibialis. If these muscles are weak, they will not be able to keep the knee in proper alignment, causing the valgus position. All this tightness and weakness can cause pain within the ankle, calf, and knee region. And it can send imbalance and pain all the way up to the upper back, if deep core strength is lacking and can't hold the pelvis in neutral.
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
Mild cases of Overpronation may be controlled or corrected with a supportive shoe that offers medial support to the foot along with a strong heel counter to control excessive motion at the heel starting with heel strike. In mild cases with no abnormal mechanical pressures, an over the counter orthotic with heel cup and longitudinal or medial arch support to keep the foot from progressing past neutral may help to realign the foot. A Custom foot orthotic with heel cup and longitudinal arch support to help correct position of the foot as it moves through motion. Heel wedges may also assist in correcting motion.
Massage and stretch the calves to increase dorsiflexion at the foot/ankle. Dorsiflexion is the bending at the ankle. By improving the dorsiflexion, one will have more flexibility at the ankle, which will allow the foot to over-pronate less. Massage the IT Band with a foam roller or tennis ball to quiet down the tightness throughout this part of the leg. The IT Band attaches from the glute maximus and runs down the side of the leg into the knee area. When the IT Band is tight it will accelerate the force of the leg moving inward, which will cause the foot to move inward as well. It is often that tightness through the IT Band that promotes over-pronation. Decreasing over-pronation, which is very prominent in runners, will help add endurance, speed and efficiency to your run and ultimately place less stress on your body.