Foot types can be divided into three major groups: the flat foot (Pes Planus), the high arched foot (Pes Valgus) and the normal to low arched foot. A true ‘flat foot’ is very rare. In fact, less than 5% of the population have flat feet i.e. a foot with no arch present whatsoever and the entire bottom surface of the foot being flat on the ground. About 5-10% of people have a high arched foot. The majority of the population have a normal to low arch. Even though the arches appear to be normal most of us suffer from over-pronation during walking, running and standing, due to the hard, flat unnatural surfaces we walk on, combined with wearing unsupportive footwear. With every step we take the arches flatten and the ankles roll inwards. Pronation itself is not wrong because we need to pronate and supinate as part of our natural gait cycle. Pronation (rolling in) acts as a shock-absorbing mechanism and supination (rolling out) helps to propel our feet forward. Over-pronation occurs when the foot pronates too deep and for too long, not allowing the foot to ‘recover’ and supinate. Over-pronation hampers our natural walking pattern. It causes an imbalance and leads to wear and tear in several parts of the body with every step we take.
There may be several possible causes of over pronation. The condition may begin as early as birth. However, there are several more common explanations for the condition. First, wear and tear on the muscles throughout the foot, either from aging or repetitive strain, causes the muscles to weaken, thereby causing the foot to turn excessively inward. Also, standing or walking on high heels for an extended period of time also places strain and pressure on the foot which can weaken the tissue. Lastly, shoes play a very common factor in the development of over pronation. Shoes that fail to provide adequate support through the arch commonly lead to over pronation.
Because overpronation affects the entire lower leg, many injuries and conditions may develop and eventually cause problems not only in the leg and foot, but also the knee, hips and lower back. Pain often begins in the arch of the foot or the ankle. Blisters may develop on the instep, or on the inside edge of the heels. As overpronation continues and problems develop, pain will be felt elsewhere, depending on the injury.
The best way to discover whether you have a normal gait, or if you overpronate, is to visit a specialty run shop, an exercise physiologist, a podiatrist or a physical therapist who specializes in working with athletes. A professional can analyze your gait, by watching you either walk or run, preferably on a treadmill. Some facilities can videotape your gait, then analyze the movement of your feet in slow-motion. Another (and less costly) way is to look at the bottom of an older pair of run shoes. Check the wear pattern. A person with a normal gait will generally see wear evenly across the heel and front of the shoe. A person who overpronates will likely see more wear on the OUTside of the heel and more wear on the INside of the forefoot (at the ball). A person who supinates will see wear all along the outer edges of the shoe. You can also learn about your gait by looking at your arches. Look at the shape your wet feet leave on a piece of paper or a flat walking surface.
Non Surgical Treatment
Anti-Pronation Insoles provide a unique foot support system that aligns the lower body. The major cause of foot and leg pain is over pronation (rolling over of the feet) which causes excessive pressure on the muscles, ligaments and bones of the lower body. Running insoles treat the underlying cause of over pronation and prevent future occurrences of the associated foot or leg condition. A project conducted at the NIKE Sport Research Laboratory studied the effects of orthotics on rear foot movement in running. Nine well-trained runners who wore orthotics were chosen as subjects. The results of the study indicated that orthotics reduced rear foot movement by roughly one degree or approximately nine percent of the amount found in runners not using orthotics. The average reduction of the maximum velocity of pronation was fifteen percent. Thus this study indicates that orthotics and insoles control over pronation which will treat and prevent many sporting injuries.
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.