Overpronation is the most common abnormality found in the foot, and for this reason, is the most studied. The term that most people attribute to overpronation is ?flat feet.? Pronation is the rolling in of the foot and the collapse of the arch. Every person pronates to some extent and this is a necessary moment in the normal walking cycle as it allows the forefoot to make complete contact with the ground. A foot that overpronates acts like a loose bag of bones during the walking cycle. This makes this type of foot very flexible but inefficient. The foot has to work much harder to propel the body, fatiguing easily and placing mechanical stresses on the lower body. We like to use the analogy of digging a hole in the dirt. Overpronating feet are like using a broom to dig the hole. It won?t break down quickly, but you will be digging for a very long time, or until eventually wear and tear will take effect. Wouldn?t you rather have a shovel to work with. This is in essence what an orthotic can do for your feet. This is why orthotics have become an evidence based treatment for so many foot ailments, as they can effectively manage overpronation.Overpronation is when a person pronates too much and for too long. This places excess stress on the tendons and ligaments in the foot and ankle.
Acquired "Flat Feet" this develops over a period of time rather than at birth (unlike Congenital "Flat Feet"). In children, many different factors may contribute to the development of this condition such as the type of shoes that a child wears, a child's sitting or sleeping positions or it may occur as some type of compensation for other abnormalities located further up the leg. Compensation may occur due to the rupture (tearing) of ligaments or tendons in the foot. One common reason for this condition is that the foot is compensating for a tight Achilles Tendon. If this tendon is tight it may cause the foot to point downward away from the body. This gives the body the perception that the affected leg is longer in length and the body attempts to compensate for the perceived additional length by flattening out the foot arch in an attempt to provide balance and stability.
Overpronation can negatively affect overall body alignment. The lowering of the longitudinal arch pulls the heel bone in, causing the leg, thigh bone and hip to rotate inwards, and an anterior tilt of the pelvis. Unnecessary strain to the ankles, knees, hips and back can result. Plantar fasciitis and inflammation, metatarsal pain, problems with the Achilles tendon, pain on the inside of the knee, and bursitis in the hip are just some of the conditions commonly associated with pronation.
Bunions, calluses and crooked toes may indicate alignment problems. So, it is important to ascertain the condition of a client's toes. Check the big toe to determine if the first joint of the toe is swollen, has a callus or bunion, and/or looks as though it abducts (i.e., hallux valgus) rather than pointing straight ahead. Also, look to see if the lesser toes seem to "curl up" (i.e., the person has hammer or claw toes). This may be indicative of damage to, or inflexibility of the plantar fascia caused by excessive flattening of the foot.
Non Surgical Treatment
The following exercises help retrain the foot and ankle complex to correct overpronation. Exercises may be performed while wearing shoes, or for an even greater challenge, in bare feet. Duck Stand. This exercise is designed to prepare for the more dynamic BT exercises ahead by waking up the gluteal muscles and teaching clients how the gluteal muscles control the degree of foot pronation. For example, when the glutes contract concentrically, they rotate the leg outward. As the leg rotates outward, the arch of the foot raises (i.e., supinates). Stand beside the BT with both heels together and feet turned outward. (Note: As you progress, perform this exercise while standing on the BT.) Try to rotate legs outward by tightening buttock muscles while tilting pelvis under. As legs rotate outward, arches of the feet raise up out of pronation. Hold position for 30 seconds. Big Toe Pushdowns. This exercise is designed to strengthen the muscle of the big toe that holds up the arch of the foot (i.e., flexor hallucis longus muscle). This stops the foot from overpronating. Stand on top of the BT dome with feet facing forward. Use gluteal muscles to raise the arches of the feet (see previous exercise - "Duck Stand"). Keep arches raised while pushing down big toe into the BT. While pushing down, tension build in the arch on the underside of their foot should be felt. Hold position for 15 seconds.
Depending on the severity of your condition, your surgeon may recommend one or more treatment options. Ultimately, however, it's YOUR decision as to which makes the most sense to you. There are many resources available online and elsewhere for you to research the various options and make an informed decision.