Pronation is the natural motion of the foot as it roles inward after the foot makes contact with the ground. It gives the foot the opportunity to act as a shock absorber for the body and adapt to the contour of the ground. Too much pronation will cause the arch of the foot to flatten excessively placing stress and pressure on tissues and ligaments of the foot. Over pronation can lead to numerous foot problems including plantar fasciitis, ankle pain, shin pain, knee pain, bunions, mortons neuroma, chondromalcia patallae and lower back pain.
Pronation can occur as an overuse syndrome in active runners, where a great deal of stress is placed on ligaments and tendons that support the medial column. Obesity is another predictor for pronation and deterioration of the medial ligaments and posterior tibial tendon due to excessive stress on these tissues. Acute Trauma can also lead to over-pronation when ligaments are torn or tendon is ruptured. Once again this can lead to a collapse of the medial column. Arthritic conditions involving the knee joint when the joint is in varus (inner collapse) posture, this places the center of gravity over the ankle joint rather than the foot causing undue pressure on the inner ankle.
Overpronation causes alterations in proper muscle recruitment patterns leading to tightness in the outside of the ankle (lateral gastrocnemius, soleus, and peroneals). This tightness can lead to weakness in the opposing muscles such as the medial gastrocnemius, anterior tibialis, and posterior tibialis. If these muscles are weak, they will not be able to keep the knee in proper alignment, causing the valgus position. All this tightness and weakness can cause pain within the ankle, calf, and knee region. And it can send imbalance and pain all the way up to the upper back, if deep core strength is lacking and can't hold the pelvis in neutral.
When sitting, an over-pronating foot appears quite normal, i.e. showing a normal arch with room under the underside of the foot. The moment you get up and put weight on your feet the situation changes: the arches lower and the ankle slightly turns inwards. When you walk or run more weight is placed on the feet compared to standing and over-pronation will become more evident. When walking barefoot on tiles or timber floors over-pronation is more visible, compared to walking on carpet or grass.
Non Surgical Treatment
The following exercises help retrain the foot and ankle complex to correct overpronation. Exercises may be performed while wearing shoes, or for an even greater challenge, in bare feet. Duck Stand. This exercise is designed to prepare for the more dynamic BT exercises ahead by waking up the gluteal muscles and teaching clients how the gluteal muscles control the degree of foot pronation. For example, when the glutes contract concentrically, they rotate the leg outward. As the leg rotates outward, the arch of the foot raises (i.e., supinates). Stand beside the BT with both heels together and feet turned outward. (Note: As you progress, perform this exercise while standing on the BT.) Try to rotate legs outward by tightening buttock muscles while tilting pelvis under. As legs rotate outward, arches of the feet raise up out of pronation. Hold position for 30 seconds. Big Toe Pushdowns. This exercise is designed to strengthen the muscle of the big toe that holds up the arch of the foot (i.e., flexor hallucis longus muscle). This stops the foot from overpronating. Stand on top of the BT dome with feet facing forward. Use gluteal muscles to raise the arches of the feet (see previous exercise - "Duck Stand"). Keep arches raised while pushing down big toe into the BT. While pushing down, tension build in the arch on the underside of their foot should be felt. Hold position for 15 seconds.
Many of the prevention methods for overpronation orthotics, for example, can be used interchangeably with treatment methods. If the overpronation is severe, you should seek medical attention from a podiatrist who can cast you for custom-made orthotics. Custom-made orthotics are more expensive, but they last longer and provide support, stability, and balance for the entire foot. You can also talk with a shoe specialist about running shoes that offer extra medial support and firm heel counters. Proper shoes can improve symptoms quickly and prevent them from recurring. Surgery can sometimes help cure and prevent this problem if you suffer from inherited or acquired pes planus deformity. Surgery typically involves stabilizing the bones to improve the foot?s support and function.