If you’re a runner or athlete, you’ve probably heard the term before, but you may not know what it really means—or whether it’s something you need addressed or fixed. Overpronation is not itself an injury. However, it can lead to injury, especially when it is severe or otherwise unaddressed.
What Is Overpronation?
To understand overpronation, we first need to understand what normal pronation looks like and what it does.
Pronation is a natural process that each foot undergoes during contact with the ground. During each step, the heel comes into contact with the ground first, followed by the rest of the foot. In a fraction of a second, the foot needs to cushion the impact force, and your weight needs to be shifted from the back of the foot to the front. To accomplish this, your feet roll slightly inward and the arch flexes and flattens. This rolling and flattening is called “pronation.”
Unfortunately, due to structural and biomechanical problems with the feet and legs, many people overpronate—in other words, their feet roll too far inward. Other people may actually underpronate, also known as supination. However, this is much less common.
What Injuries Are Associated with Overpronation?
If not accommodated or corrected, this condition can contribute to the development of painful conditions such as:
- Heel pain
- Achilles tendinitis
- Shin pain
- Knee pain
- Ankle sprains
- Flat feet
Overpronation-related injuries are extremely common in runners. Other athletes are at heightened risk as well, especially those who play sports with lots of jumping, walking or running on hard playing surfaces.
How Can I Tell If I Overpronate?
If you’re experiencing pain or soreness in your feet or ankles related to activity, your best choice is always to visit a podiatrist like Dr. David Guhl or Dr. Amy Miller-Guhl. We can evaluate your gait carefully to determine if overpronation is likely a factor in your pain.
One clue you can check at home? An old pair of running shoes. If you overpronate, it’s likely that the tread on the heels and on the inside of the shoes (especially the ball of the foot near the big toe) will be significantly more worn down than the rest of the shoe.
How Can I Prevent Overpronation Injuries?
The appropriate corrective measures will depend on the degree of overpronation, the fundamental cause (for example, flat feet or a leg length discrepancy), and other factors. They may include:
- Switching to a pair of running and/or athletic shoes designed for an overpronated gait. These will usually have additional media support (harder material on the inside portion of the midsole), which prevents the feet from rolling as far.
- Getting fitted for a pair of custom orthotics. These shoe inserts are fitted precisely to your individual feet. Depending on the type of orthotics prescribed to you, these may correct and overpronated gait by restricting your feet to a more healthy alignment and/or accommodate pressure points with additional support and cushioning.
Even severe overpronation can usually be addressed successfully through conservative therapies. To book an appointment at Waukesha Foot Specialists, please call us today at (262) 544-0700.