Often misunderstood, pronation is considered by many to be a negative attribute; pronation is actually a good thing in the correct amount. Pronation is the body's response to the ground forces
incurred during running and walking. When the foot impacts the ground, the arch elongates and flattens, which allows the foot to roll inward. This action helps the body to absorb shock. The degree to
which the arch flattens is often associated with the degree the foot pronates. An ideal foot-strike is said to be neutral and is characterized by slight inward movement of the ankle-bone during
stance (when the foot is in contact with the ground). Most runners for example exhibit over-pronation in varying degrees. 50-60% of runners exhibit mild to moderate over-pronation and are best suited
for support orthotics. 20-30% of runners exhibit severe over-pronation and are best suited for motion control shoes.
You do not have to be a runner or athlete to suffer from overpronation. Flat feet can be inherited, and many people suffer from pain on a day-to-day basis. Flat feet can also be traumatic in nature
and result from tendon damage over time. Wearing shoes that do not offer enough arch support can also contribute to overpronation.
Overpronation can lead to injuries and pain in the foot, ankle, knee, or hip. Overpronation puts extra stress on all the bones in the feet. The repeated stress on the knees, shins, thighs, and pelvis
puts additional stress on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the lower leg. This can put the knee, hip, and back out of alignment, and it can become very painful.
Firstly, look at your feet in standing, have you got a clear arch on the inside of the foot? If there is not an arch and the innermost part of the sole touches the floor, then your feet are
over-pronated. Secondly, look at your running shoes. If they are worn on the inside of the sole in particular, then pronation may be a problem for you. Thirdly, try the wet foot test. Wet your feet
and walk along a section of paving and look at the footprints you leave. A normal foot will leave a print of the heel, connected to the forefoot by a strip approximately half the width of the foot on
the outside of the sole. If you?re feet are pronated there may be little distinction between the rear and forefoot, shown opposite. The best way to determine if you over pronate is to visit a
podiatrist or similar who can do a full gait analysis on a treadmill or using forceplates measuring exactly the forces and angles of the foot whilst running. It is not only the amount of over
pronation which is important but the timing of it during the gait cycle as well that needs to be assessed.
Non Surgical Treatment
Pronation and supination are bio-mechanical problems, and are best treated and prevented with orthotic inserts. But before you run out to buy orthotics it makes sense to get the right advice on
footwear, and the best advice I can give you, is to go and see a qualified podiatrist for a complete foot-strike and running gait analysis. They will be able to tell you if there are any concerns
regarding the way your running gait is functioning. After your running gait has been analysed, have your podiatrist, or competent sports footwear sales person recommend a number of shoes that suit
your requirements. Good quality footwear will go a long way in helping to prevent pronation and supination. And, if needed, invest in a pair of orthotic inserts to further prevent excessive pronation
Stand with your heels together and feet turned out. Tighten the buttock muscles, slightly tilt your pelvis forwards and try to rotate your legs outwards. You should feel your
arches rising while you do this exercise.
Stand facing a wall and place hands on it for support. Lean forwards until stretch is felt in the calves. Hold for 30 seconds. Bend at knees and hold for a further 30 seconds.
Repeat 5 times.
While drawing your toes upwards towards your shins, roll a golf ball under the foot between 30 and 60 seconds. If you find a painful point, keep rolling the ball on that spot for 10
Big toe push:
Stand with your ankles in a neutral position (without rolling the foot inwards). Push down with your big toe but do not let the ankle roll inwards or the arch collapse. Hold for
5 seconds. Repeat 10 times. Build up to longer times and fewer repetitions.
Place a ball between your foot and a wall. Sitting down and keeping your toes pointed upwards, press the outside of the foot against the ball, as though pushing it into the
wall. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times.
Stand on one foot on the floor. The movements needed to remain balanced will strengthen the arch. When you are able to balance for 30 seconds, start doing this exercise
using a wobble board.