One of the most common causes of foot and leg discomfort is a condition known as over pronation. Normal pronation, or “turning inward”, of the foot is necessary as the foot adapts to the ground. With over pronation, however, the arch flattens, collapses, and soft tissues stretch. This causes the joint surfaces to function at unnatural angles to each other. When this happens, joints that should be stable now become very loose and flexible. At first, over pronation may cause fatigue. As the problem gets worse, strain on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the foot and lower leg can cause permanent problems and deformities.
There is a relationship between biomechanics and injury that is specific to each body part. Overall though, poor mechanics will either increase the landing forces acting on the body or increase the work to be done by the muscles. Both increase the stress, which, depending on the individual and the amount of running can become excessive and cause injury.
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.
If you have flat feet or low arches, chances are you overpronate. Although not always the case, the lower your arches the greater the overpronate. Stand on a hard surface (in front of a mirror if you need to) and look at your feet, flat feet or low arches are easy to spot. If your feet look flatter than a pancake, have a look at your ankles and see if they seem collapsed or straight. If they are, you’re overpronating.
Non Surgical Treatment
Overpronation of the feet can be corrected in some cases and in others it can be effectively managed. Overpronators can train themselves to change their running gait, wear arch supports, orthotic insoles or specialist shoes for overpronators. In order to determine exactly what is happening during the stride, it is necessary to have a gait analysis conducted by a professional. The extent of overpronation can then be determined, and the causes can be identified and corrected directly. The main corrective methods used for excessive pronation are orthotics. Orthotics are the most straightforward and simplest solution to overpronation. Orthotics are devices which can be slipped into shoes which will offer varying degrees of correction to the motion of the foot. Orthotics help to support the arches and distribute the body weight effectively, and are usually the best treatment choice for moderate to severe overpronation. Orthotics may require existing insoles to be removed from your shoes to accommodate them; although most running shoes will have a removable insole to accommodate an orthotic insole.
Depending on the severity of your condition, your surgeon may recommend one or more treatment options. Ultimately, however, it’s YOUR decision as to which makes the most sense to you. There are many resources available online and elsewhere for you to research the various options and make an informed decision.