Foot overpronation describes a condition in which the foot is prone to tipping over on the inside during the normal walking gait. This can place strain on the joints, muscles and tendons and lead to imbalances throughout the body even affecting the knees and back when we walk. If you consider that the average person takes somewhere between 8-10,000 steps every day, then it becomes apparent that this is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.
Among other issues, overpronation can lead to:
- Heal spurs (plantar fasciitis)
- Shin splints
- Hair-line fractures in the toes
- Difficulty walking or standing for long stretches
- Hip pain
- Lower back pain
- Medial knee pain
- Patellofemoral dysfunction (poor tracking of the kneecap)
All of these issues can be caused as although overpronation affects the foot, this results in the leg impacting with the floor at a different angle, altering the direction of the pressure as it reaches the knee. This can then also then cause us to then try and ‘correct’ our posture and gait which ultimately results in back difficulties and other problems.
There are numerous possible causes for overpronation. One of the most common is flat footedness, meaning that the patient has collapsed arches such that their instep is not raised off the ground as it normally would be. In some cases this is caused by bones being fused in the foot (either due to genetics, or as a result of issues in the womb).
Overpronation can also be the result of muscle weakness/tightness in the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles (the calves). According to a recent clinical review (1) this can also be the result of weak hip muscles, specifically the adductors and abductors.
Overpronation can also be the result of poor footwear and incorrect running form.
If you overpronate, then there are a number of different treatment options which can be used to address the issue.
The first and most commonly used treatment is orthotics. These are shoes and insoles that help to correct the pronation by compensating for flat feet or other issues.
Strengthening and stretching the muscles and ligaments can also be used in order to improve gait and fix overpronation. In some cases surgery might be necessary to fix fused bones and damaged joints.