The foot and ankle complex needs to pronate to make the muscles of the hips and legs work correctly. Many muscles that originate from the pelvis attach to both the upper and lower leg. For example, the gluteus maximus and tensor fascia latae (TFL) attach to the outside of the lower leg via the iliotibial band, while the abductors attach to the outside of the femur. When the foot pronates, the whole leg rotates inward toward the center line of the body. This inward rotation pulls the attachment of the glutes, TFL and abductors away from the origin of these muscles up on the pelvis which creates tension. Similarly, the muscles of the lower leg such as the peroneals, tibialis anterior and tibialis posterior originate on the lower leg and attach to the underside of the foot. When the foot flattens out, as it does in pronation, this pulls the insertion of these muscles away from their origin on the tibia. This action also creates tension in the muscles.
A common cause of pronation is heredity - we can inherit this biomechanical defect. The second most common cause is due to the way our feet were positioned in the uterus while we were developing; this is called a congenital defect. In either instance, the following occurs in our feet during our development.
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.
The best way to discover whether you have a normal gait, or if you overpronate, is to visit a specialty run shop, an exercise physiologist, a podiatrist or a physical therapist who specializes in working with athletes. A professional can analyze your gait, by watching you either walk or run, preferably on a treadmill. Some facilities can videotape your gait, then analyze the movement of your feet in slow-motion. Another (and less costly) way is to look at the bottom of an older pair of run shoes. Check the wear pattern. A person with a normal gait will generally see wear evenly across the heel and front of the shoe. A person who overpronates will likely see more wear on the OUTside of the heel and more wear on the INside of the forefoot (at the ball). A person who supinates will see wear all along the outer edges of the shoe. You can also learn about your gait by looking at your arches. Look at the shape your wet feet leave on a piece of paper or a flat walking surface.
Non Surgical Treatment
If pronation is diagnosed before the age of five it can usually be treated in such a manner that the bones and joints will be aligned properly as growth continues. This may prevent the arch from collapsing, as well as allowing the muscles of the leg to enter the foot without twisting. With proper and early treatment, the foot will not turn out at the ankle, and the child?s gait will improve. Treatment for pronation in children may include: night braces, custom-made orthotics, and exercises. These treatments usually continue until growth is complete, and then the adult may need to wear custom-made orthotics to prevent the pronation from returning (the foot, as every other part of our body, tends to return to its original form if preventive measures are not taken). One side note: frequently, pediatricians will wait too long, hoping that the child will ?outgrow? the problem. By the time they realize that the child?s feet will not improve, it is too late to change the foot. In these cases, custom-made orthotics is used to prevent the pronation from becoming worse.
Custom-made orthotics supports not only the arch as a whole, but also each individual bone and joint that forms the arch. It is not enough to use an over-the-counter arch support, as these generic devices will not provide the proper support to each specific structure of the arch and foot. Each pronated foot?s arch collapses differently and to different degrees. The only way to provide the support that you may need is with a custom-made device. This action of the custom-made orthotic will help to prevent heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, calluses, arch pain, and weakness of the entire foot.