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Is Overpronation

May 30, 2015
Overview

Overpronating is a term that is thrown around loosely, whether it be a clinician?s office (PT, Ortho Doc, Podiatrist), in print publication, online, or at your local shoe shop.Being classified as an overpronator is fairly subjective. There?s no criteria to classify you as a runner who overpronates. Pronation is completely normal. Pronation allows your foot to unlock and distribute force up the chain (leg). Pronation that fails to occur, whether it be due to an orthotic, bony structure (high arch), or motion control shoe, may actually increase ground reaction forces (impact). It should make sense, too. Blocking your foot from pronating disengages the first anatomical system for absorbing impact forces. ?Over? insinuates that you pronate too much, but who gets to determine what?s considered normal? We have values that are deemed ?normal,? but varying foot structures complicate the situation. Varying degrees of high, neutral, and low arches all affect this ?normal? pronation number. ?Normal? pronation numbers will simply be out of reach for rigid arches, while flexible feet with surpass the numbers. To dilute the situation further, your strength, habits, and flexibility can all influence how much you pronate.Over Pronation

Causes

During our development, the muscles, ligaments, and other soft tissue structures that hold our bones together at the joints become looser than normal. When the bones are not held tightly in place, the joints are not aligned properly, and the foot gradually turns outward at the ankle, causing the inner ankle bone to appear more prominent. The foot moves in this direction because it is the path of least resistance. It is more difficult for the foot to move in the opposite direction (this is called supination). As we develop, the muscles and ligaments accommodate to this abnormal alignment. By the time growth is complete, the pronated foot is: abnormally flexible, flat, and its outer border appears raised so that as you step down you do not come down equally across the entire foot; instead, you come down mostly on the inner border of the foot. Normal aging will produce further laxity of our muscles that causes the pronation to become gradually worse.

Symptoms

Due to the laxity of the soft tissue structures of the foot, and the fact that the joints are not held together properly, the bones of the feet shift. When this occurs, the muscles that attach to these bones must also shift, or twist, in order to attach to these bones. The strongest and most important muscles that attach to our foot bones come from our lower leg. So, as these muscles course down the leg and across the ankle, they must twist to maintain their proper attachments in the foot. This twisting of these muscles will cause shin splints, Achilles Tendonitis, generalized tendonitis, fatigue, muscle aches and pains, cramps, ankle sprains, and loss of muscular efficiency (reducing walking and running speed and endurance). The problems we see in the feet, which are due to over-pronation include bunions, heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, fallen and painful arches, hammertoes, metatarsalgia (ball of foot pain), and calluses.

Diagnosis

To easily get an idea of whether a person overpronates, look at the position and condition of certain structures in the feet and ankles when he/she stands still. When performing weight-bearing activities like walking or running, muscles and other soft tissue structures work to control gravity's effect and ground reaction forces to the joints. If the muscles of the leg, pelvis, and feet are working correctly, then the joints in these areas such as the knees, hips, and ankles will experience less stress. However, if the muscles and other soft tissues are not working efficiently, then structural changes and clues in the feet are visible and indicate habitual overpronation.Over Pronation

Non Surgical Treatment

Supportive orthotics in the shoe is a method commonly implemented to treat many common running injuries associated with pronation. An advantage of orthotics is that they often allow the sufferer to continue to participate in athletic activity and avoid other treatment options that could be potentially costly and time consuming. Seventy-five percent of injured runners are successfully treated with the prescription of orthoses. Orthotics are the most effective treatment for symptoms that develop from unusual biomechanics within the body such as overpronation, resulting in either great improvement or complete healing of the injury in about half the cases.

Prevention

Strengthen the glutes to slow down the force of the foot moving too far inward. Most individuals who over-pronate have weak glute muscles and strengthening this area is a must. A simple exercise to strengthen glutes is lateral tube walking across a field/court/room. Place a lateral stretch band around your ankles and move your leg sideways while keeping your feet forward.

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