Pronation is the way the foot rolls inward when you walk and run. It is part of the natural movement that helps the lower leg deal with shock. Some people pronate more (overpronation) or less (underpronation) than others. Though this is not bad in itself, it does affect the way you run and it may increase the likelihood of injury. This makes your pronation pattern an important factor in choosing the right shoes.
There are many biomechanical issues that can contribute to excessive pronation, including weak foot intrinsic muscles, limited ankle dorsiflexion mobility and calf flexibility, weak ankle invertor muscles (e.g. posterior tibialis), weak forefoot evertor muscles (peroneus longus), poor hip strength and control, Anterior pelvic tilting, heel InversionIn a person who overpronates, the heel bone goes into an everted position meaning that it turns out away from the midline of the body. The opposite motion of eversion is inversion. Inversion is a motion that needs to be controlled to prevent the foot from excessively pronating.
It is important to note that pronation is not wrong or bad for you. In fact, our feet need to pronate and supinate to achieve proper gait. Pronation (rolling inwards) absorbs shock and supination (rolling outwards) propels our feet forward. It is our body?s natural shock-absorbing mechanism. The problem is over-pronation i.e. the pronation movement goes too deep and lasts for too long, which hinders the foot from recovering and supinating. With every step, excess pronation impedes your natural walking pattern, causing an imbalance in the body and consequent excessive wear and tear in joints, muscles and ligaments. Some common complaints associated with over-pronation include Heel Pain (Plantar Fasciitis) ,Ball of foot pain, Achilles Tendonitis, Shin splints, Knee Pain, Lower Back Pain.
The best way to discover whether you have a normal gait, or if you overpronate, is to visit a specialty run shop, an exercise physiologist, a podiatrist or a physical therapist who specializes in working with athletes. A professional can analyze your gait, by watching you either walk or run, preferably on a treadmill. Some facilities can videotape your gait, then analyze the movement of your feet in slow-motion. Another (and less costly) way is to look at the bottom of an older pair of run shoes. Check the wear pattern. A person with a normal gait will generally see wear evenly across the heel and front of the shoe. A person who overpronates will likely see more wear on the OUTside of the heel and more wear on the INside of the forefoot (at the ball). A person who supinates will see wear all along the outer edges of the shoe. You can also learn about your gait by looking at your arches. Look at the shape your wet feet leave on a piece of paper or a flat walking surface.
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.