Pronation is the natural way that our feet absorb shock: when our feet strike the ground the arches flex down and in to disperse the impact. Everyone pronates! Contrary to popular misconception it is healthy and normal. The problem begins when one or both of our feet pronate too much. When the arches flex too far inward or stay collapsed for too long pronation is considered excessive. We call this overpronation. The amount of overpronation can vary from mild to severe. In severe overpronation the feet and ankles can rotate too far inward just during standing.
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 may have secondary effects on the lower legs, such as increased rotation of the tibia, which may result in lower leg or knee problems. Overpronation is usually associated with many overuse injuries in running including medial tibial stress syndrome, or shin splints, and knee pain Individuals with injuries typically have pronation movement that is about two to four degrees greater than that of those with no injuries. Between 40% and 50% of runners who overpronate do not have overuse injuries. This suggests that although pronation may have an effect on certain injuries, it is not the only factor influencing their development.
Do the wet foot test. Get your feet wet and walk along a paved surface or sand and look at the footprints you leave. If you have neutral feet you will see a print of the heel with a thin strip connecting to your forefoot, but if you’re overpronating your foot print will look a bit like a giant blob with toes.
Non Surgical Treatment
There are exercises that you can do to help deal with the effects and treat the cause. Obviously you can opt for an insert into your shoe either by way of your sports shop or go see a podiatrist. Like anything in your body that is not working correctly; you will have to manage your condition. Don’t put off dealing with the problem as it will manifest associated issues along the alignment and as far up as your neck. If it’s mild pronantion, I suggest running barefoot. If you can’t do this then don’t wear shoes at all at home or in the office as much as possible. Give your calf muscles a huge stretch everyday as these with the ligaments from the foot up to the muscle get tight and are linked to your pain. Loosen your calf muscles as much as possible. Great exercise is to sit barefoot with a marble on the floor in front of you. Grab the marble with your toes and try to hold it tight in the middle of the base of your foot. Ping pong balls and even golf balls work. Do this each night and combined with calf stretches you’ll start to correct the muscle alignment gradually in the foot. Put more attention into massaging your feet, standing with a good posture, stretching your feet, ankles and calf muscles. Lastly, if you are fat this will not help at all. You must lose weight swimming, cycling and eradicating sugar and fat from your diet. The added strain on the foot by being a fat body compounds the problems and inhibits corrective results that you are after.
Calcaneal “Slide” (Sliding Calcaneal Osteotomy) A wedge is cut into the heel bone (calcaneus) and a fixation device (screws, plate) is used to hold the bone in its new position. This is an aggressive option with a prolonged period of non-weightbearing, long recovery times and many potential complications. However, it can and has provided for successful patient outcomes.