Before we can explain overpronation, we have to define pronation. Basically, pronation describes the way your foot and ankle normally move whenever you walk or run. But if you overpronate, that means your ankle and foot roll too far inward and down when you move. And that rolling motion can cause lots of different problems. Let's take a closer look.
What Causes Overpronation?
There are several reasons why your feet may roll inward when you walk. Often, this is a problem for people with flat feet, both children and adults. If you are extremely flexible, you may also experience inward rolling while you walk. Improper footwear can also contribute to the problem. Finally, added stress, strain or overuse injuries can lead you to overpronate. This is especially true for runners, or other athletes who engage in repetitive movements.
Some factors that contribute to pronation are less easy to control. Women are more likely than men to overpronate. Anyone over the age of 40 has a higher risk. And carrying extra weight makes pronation more likely to become a problem.
Side Effects of Overpronation
When you overpronate, that puts an added strain on your foot and leg muscles. In turn, you may develop heel pain, back pain, knee pain, shin splints or many other conditions. Luckily, with early intervention, we can keep this motion from hurting your body. And we can do it all without surgery! First, though, you need to know that you're overpronating.
Signs and Symptoms
Sometimes, it's hard to notice the motion of your feet when you walk. In those cases, we may be able to detect overpronation with a gait analysis. But in other cases,
you'll notice heel, back, knee or leg pain. This movement form can even lead to foot deformities. As such, if you've been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, bunions, Achilles tendonitis or even foot or ankle arthritis, overpronation may be contributing to your concerns. In fact, some stress fractures and cases of shin splints can be caused by overpronation.
Treating Overpronation without Surgery
As we mentioned earlier, correcting inward rolling feet and ankles is the only way to prevent complications. To keep you safe and comfortable, we have to remove pressure from your leg, foot and ankle muscles, preventing overuse injuries.
Now, we can do that in several ways. (And none of them require surgery!) But, one of our most effective treatment options involves fitting you for custom orthotic devices. Because we mold these medical-grade inserts directly to your feet, they can address the specific causes of your overpronation. At the same time, they offer added support to your arches, as well as the rest of your feet and ankles. In turn, you may correct other painful foot conditions. You could even improve your running efficiency or overall athletic performance.
Of course, you could get insoles from any old drug store. But there is a big difference between orthotics and insoles. And only the former can correct overpronation, or other issues with your gait. (That's just how we describe the way you walk.)
Of course, while orthotics can do a lot of good for your feet, they can't do it alone. So, we may suggest other interventions to manage your inward rolling gait. And any other painful problems you're experiencing.
Importance of Shoe Choice
Even once we've fitted you for orthoics, they won't work unless you wear them. Consistently. But you also have to be careful about the kinds of shoes you wear with your orthotics. Ideally, you'll choose pairs that offer plenty of support in your midfoot and heel. And try to look for designs that stabilize your ankles and reduce the chances of rolling.
Stretching and Strengthening
Recent research reveals that strengthening your foot, core and hips can help your fight excessive pronation. Some of the exercises suggested in this study include:
1. Using your toes to grab small objects, moving them to a new spot.
2. Placing a towel around your toes, then flexing and pointing in order to stretch your calf muscles and take pressure off your arches.
3. Raising your arch off the ground, then slowly drawing your toes toward the heel, shortening the length of your foot.
4. Situps and planks to strengthen your central and oblique abdominal muscles.
Treating Overpronation with Surgery
In some cases, you may need surgery to correct your flat feet. And your overpronation. This is usually the case with conditions like rigid flat feet. But surgery may also be necessary if your inward rolling motion has already caused damage to your bones or tendons. In these cases, we can correct the damage and overpronation all at once.
When to See Your Houston Podiatrist for Overpronation
As we say with any foot problem, you need to seek help for overpronation as soon as you experience foot pain of any kind. Ignoring your discomfort could lead to serious complications such as stress fractures. Even without injuries, ignoring this gait change could leave you with chronic pain in your back, hips, knees, heels and legs.
After all, while overpronation is a common pattern of movement, this motion allows your ankles to move too much when you walk or run. As your ankle rolls down and in with your movement, the awkward positioning can lead to collapsing arches as you move. Then, when you walk on flattened feet, you put extra strain on the ligaments, muscles and even bones in your lower body. In turn, you may experience pain, inflammation and injury.
Fortunately, we can address and correct overpronation with minimally invasive interventions. Treatment options include custom orthotic devices, changes in the shoes you wear, and stretching and strengthening exercises that you can do in your own home. In very rare conditions, some people who overpronate will only experience relief with surgery. But, at our podiatry practice in Houston, TX, surgery is always the last option.
So, how can you correct overpronation without complications? And without surgery? We urge you to look for warning signs and make an appointment in the office at the first sign of discomfort. With early intervention, we can restore your gait with minimal interventions.