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.
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.
Common conditions seen with overpronation include heel pain or plantar fasciitis. Achilles tendonopathy. Hallus Valgus and/or bunions. Patellofemoral pain syndrome. Iliotibial band pain syndrome. Low back pain. Shin splints. Stress fractures in the foot or lower leg.
Look at the wear on your shoes and especially running trainers; if you overpronate it’s likely the inside of your shoe will be worn down (or seem crushed if they’re soft shoes) from the extra strain.
Non Surgical Treatment
Podiatrists are trained to effectively detect and management over-pronation. You can get a referral to a podiatrist from your GP if you are presenting with the pain typical of over-pronation, or you can seek private podiatric care in anyone of several registered and accredited practices across the country. Your podiatrist will examine your foot and its shape to determine whether or not over-pronation is the cause of your pain. If your podiatrist determines that it is a problem with arch support that is giving you trouble, then they can effectively remedy that lack of support with orthotics.
Custom-made orthotics will reduce the twisting of the leg muscles as they enter the foot, by maintaining a normal alignment of the bones and joints of the foot. If the bones and joints are aligned properly, by reducing the pronation, the muscles can run straight to their attachments in the foot, without twisting to get to these bones. This action of custom-made orthotics will reduce Achilles Tendonitis shin splints; ankle, knee, hip, and lower back pain; and leg cramps. This action will also allow the leg muscles to work more efficiently, thus allowing you to walk and run with less effort.