Feet are supposed to roll inward as a part of every step you take. This helps them to mold to the various terrain that they step on (sand, rocks, various obstacles) without injury. This is called pronation. But, when your feet roll inward excessively, problems often arise. Excessive inward rolling of the feet and ankles is called over-pronation. Sometimes, people who over-pronate are told they have ?flat feet?. The term ?flat feet? can be misleading. When standing, body weight causes the arch of most feet to flatten out somewhat. This does not mean they become flat like pancakes (though some feet do). Instead, the arch shape gets longer and flatter and the arch height gets lower.
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.
Over-pronation is a condition where the arch flattens out which makes the feet roll inward while walking. This condition is also known as flat feet. It imposes extreme additional stresses on the plantar fascia, a fibrous band of tissue which connects the heel to the forefoot. Over-pronation makes walking a painful experience because of the additional strain on the calves, heel and/or back. Treatment for over-pronation involves the use of specially-made orthotics which offers arch support and medial rear foot posting as corrective measures.
One of the easiest ways to determine if you overpronate is to look at the bottom of your shoes. Overpronation causes disproportionate wear on the inner side of the shoe. Another way to tell if you might overpronate is to have someone look at the back of your legs and feet, while you are standing. The Achilles tendon runs from the calf muscle to the heel bone, and is visible at the back of the ankle. Normally it runs in a straight line down to the heel. An indication of overpronation is if the tendon is angled to the outside of the foot, and the bone on the inner ankle appears to be more prominent than the outer anklebone. There might also be a bulge visible on the inside of the foot when standing normally. A third home diagnostic test is called the ?wet test?. Wet your foot and stand on a surface that will show an imprint, such as construction paper, or a sidewalk. You overpronate if the imprint shows a complete impression of your foot (as opposed to there being a space where your arch did not touch the ground).
Non Surgical Treatment
Fortunately, there are simple things you can do to cure and correct your overpronation issues. Certain exercises help. Pull your toes back using a rolled up towel. Roll your feet over a golf or tennis ball for a minute. And do calf raises by standing up and lifting up on your toes. These all help reposition the foot and strengthen the muscles and tendons necessary for proper support. Beyond that, simple adjustments to footwear will help immensely.
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.