What is Overpronation and What Causes It?
Pronation is a beneficial human gait mechanism that involves the foot rolling inward slightly to help the foot stabilize the body and absorb impact properly. Overpronation occurs when the foot rolls excessively inward. There are several causes for overpronation including genetics, foot weakness and stiffness, and long-term use of shoes that provide poor support or put additional strain on the foot, such as high heels.
Consequences of Overpronation
People that overpronate are more likely to suffer from foot maladies involving the big toe and sesamoids (two small bones in the ball of the foot behind the big toe) since excessive pushing off from the big toe area takes place. In addition, the arches and heels of the feet are more prone to issues such as plantar fasciitis and bone spurs. Other areas of the body that might be impacted by overpronation are the knees and lower back because of the imbalance caused by a flawed gait.
Determining if You Overpronate
You should consult an expert, such as a podiatrist, to have your gait checked for abnormalities such as overpronation. But if you want to do a quick check to see if you might be an overpronator, take a look at the heel and inside edge of the soles (underside) of your shoes. If those areas are more worn than the rest of the sole, then you could be overpronating. You also can examine the insole (i.e., internal padding) where the big toe sits; if there is a deep indentation in this area, you might be overpronating.
If you suspect you are overpronating or are experiencing pain in your feet, you should consult an expert. If the expert examines your gait and determines that you are overpronating, they may try to correct your overpronation with one or more of methods:
Orthotics are foot supports customized to fit the wearer’s foot and gait. They are inserted into the shoe, often in place of the insole that came with the shoes. The orthotic corrects the gait defect and provides additional support for the foot.
In place of or in addition to orthotics, the expert may have you switch to more supportive footwear that stabilizes the foot more during the gait.
The expert may also suggest an exercise and stretching regimen to strengthen the foot, ankles, and calves along and increase flexibility. Do not simply look up a regimen on the Web; you could cause injury. There are many bones and muscles in the feet and only an expert can make sure that you are exercising them in such as way as to not cause imbalance, pain, and injury.
Shoe Lacing Techniques
In addition to wearing orthotics, better shoes, and increasing the strength and flexibility of your feet, when using athletic shoes, you can lace and tie them in a way that will provide some additional support that is not supplied by conventional shoe lacing. Again, consult an expert; you can get an idea of some of the more supportive shoe lacing techniques that exist by visiting Ian’s Shoe Lacing Site, home to an extensive illustrated library of different shoe lacing techniques.
If you suspect you are overpronating or have pain in your feet, it is important to consult and expert that can examine your feet and gait. They may be able to prescribe one or more relatively easy to implement methods to mitigate the issue and give you a more proper and pain-free gait.