Over-pronation explained...

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Published: 19th June 2009
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Over-pronation, fallen arches and flat feet

Pronation and Supination are common terms that are often associated with fallen arches, high arches, flat feet etc. This article discusses the significance of these terms and enumerates the particular problem of over-pronation. The article will talk about:

1) What do Pronation and Supination denote
2) Over-pronation in a broad sense
3) The consequences of over-pronation
4) How to treat over-pronation

What exactly is Over-Pronation?

Over-pronation is a non-recoverable ailment, which results from over exertion of the foot. This resultant causes imbalance, strain on the feet, legs, knees, and lower back due to excessive energy during walking. Over-pronation is referred by many terms such as 'fallen arches', 'dropped arches', or 'collapsed arches'. Over-pronation is also referred as "flat foot", though it could be a misnomer as a true flat foot is quite rare. A true "flat foot" (Pes Planus) without arches (or high arches) is seen in about 5 percent of the population only, while ninety percent of humans have normal to low arches. Pes Cavus is also known as over-supination where the foot mostly stays rigid, lacking the natural shock absorbing mechanism

An important point to note is that one need not be flat-footed to suffer from over-pronation. Alternatively people with a normal-to-low arch condition might be prone to this. Neither a normal sitting posture nor standing upright stresses the arches or shows a high degree of over-pronation respectively. However this condition manifests the moment one starts walking as the arches collapse and ankles roll inwards.

Over-pronation can be caused by several factors such as weak ankle muscles; obesity, pregnancy, age, or forceful gait against hard ground. Athletes, especially runners, are more prone to this condition.

The consequences of over-pronation?

If you are suffering from over-pronation (70% of the population does) numerous complaints may occur due to your poor walking posture. Young people under forty tend to suffer from over-pronation without any clear symptoms, aches, or other complaints.

As people approach their forties or fifties the poor foot function gives way to over-pronation resulting in excessive wear and tear of the feet, ankle and knee joints as well as the lower back. Mostly people accept these changes as normal signs of ageing, not realizing that the signs could be due to the fallen arches!

Common complaints linked with over-pronation?

With Plantar Fasciitis, the most common condition caused by over-pronation, the feet flatten and cause the fibrous band of ligaments under the feet to over stretch, resulting in a Heel Spur is a bony growth on the heel. This growth triggers chronic heel pain in the surrounding tissues that get inflamed.
Due to over-pronation the foot continues to roll inwards when it really should be pushing off and outwards, because of which the lower leg also follows the internal rotation instead of the external rotation, thereby placing a lot of strain on the leg muscles (especially the calf muscles) causing leg ache and shin splits. The knee-cap, a hinge joint designed to flex and extend like a door and not rotate, gets displaced due to the twisting of the leg. Similarly, when the legs rotate inwards, the pelvis is forced to tilt forward, thereby constantly straining the lower back muscles.

How to fix the problem of over-pronation?

With no real cure for over-pronation, steps can be taken to prevent the discomfort. "In-built" orthotics in the shoes are a boon to reduce the discomforts of over-pronation.

An 'orthotic' or orthotic insole device inside the shoes can help restore the normal foot function. Also known as shoe inserts, the othotic insole device come in various types and can be purchased from pharmacies, reputable shoe stores and specialty websites. These can also be custom made as prescribed by a Podiatrist or bought off the shelf.

Orthotics realigns the foot and ankle-bones to their natural position thereby correcting the problem of over-pronation. This restores our normal foot function that alleviates not only foot problems but also ailments in other parts of the body.

Besides wearing an Orthotic, wearing supportive shoes with plenty of "motion control" would also help. These special shoes incorporate 'motion control' by placing arch support and firm heel counters to stabilize the heel and ankle during the walking cycle. Having side posts for extra lateral support also reduce over-pronation. The inner mid-soles protect the ankles and knees from lateral stress, while the inner side of the mid-sole, made of a denser material helps reduce the amount of pronation. A heavy person who over-pronates will need a heavier, more supportive shoe than a light person with the same degree of pronation.

Of late the shoes use soft material for reasons of initial comfort and are not really supportive or stable for a healthy gait. The use of sandals or 'flip-flops' during summer is of no help to patients with over-pronation as they are not satisfactory in biomechanical terms.

Find out more information about the above-mentioned topic at www.painfreewalking.co.uk

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