Overpronation occurs in running when the arch of the foot rolls inwards or downwards excessively rather than the natural way of pronating from side to side.
The way a person's foot strikes the ground can have significant effects on their body. Athletes with flat feet or who overpronate may be prone to developing overuse running injuries because it disrupts the body's natural alignment causing increased impact when the foot strikes the ground.
Pronation occurs as weight is transferred from the heel to the ball of the foot as an athlete goes through their walking or running stride. There is initial contact with the outside of the heel upon initial contact with the ground. When the foot continues to roll the ball of the foot will tilt inwards more than the ideal 15 degrees. This means the foot and ankle have problems stabalizing the body and shock isnt absorbed efficiently. At end of the cycle the front of the foot is pushing off the big and second toe causing an excessive force.
This motion can cause extreme stress or inflammation on the plantar fascia, potentially causing severe discomfort and leading to other foot problems.
Causes of Overpronation
● Fallen Arches & Flat Feet
● Common foot deformities and or a flexible muscle structure.
● Being Pregnant.
● Being Overweight or Obese.
● Repeatedly striking the foot on a hard surface for an extended period when running.
Symptons of Overpronation
● Walking & Running becomes awkward and causes increased strain on the feet and calves.
● Strain on the big toe and second toe and instability in the foot.
● No clear space between the foot and the ground where the arch should be while standing.
● Majority of wear on inside (big toe side) of running shoes.
Overpronators will see their heel print connected with the full width of their foot when taking the wet footprint test.
If a person suspects that they are overpronating they can do a test by doing one of the three following methods:
● They should first look at their feet while standing. If there is no clear space between the foot and the floor where the arch should be the person likely overpronates.
● They can check the condition of their running shoes. If the majority of the wear is on the inner part of the running shoes they are likely a person with overpronation.
● They can also check their footprint after taking a few steps with bare wet feet over brown paper. A person with normal pronation will see their heelprint connected to their toeprints with about half of their foot width showing. A person who overpronates will see their heelprint connected with the full width of their foot.
Injuries associated with Overpronation
● Shin Splints
● Heel Pain
● Plantar Fasciitis
● Iliotibial Band Syndrome (inflammation of a ligament on the outside of the knee)
● Chronic Lower Back Pain
● Stress Fractures in the Foot or Lower Leg
● Achilles Tendonitis
Treatments for Overpronation
● Using orthotic running insoles designed with appropriate arch support to prevent overpronation.
● Wearing stability running shoes that feature a firm heel counter and wide soles.
● Strengthening the foot muscles by toe curls, heel raises and other exercises to improve foot support, stability and shock absorption.
Many people who overpronate know they have flat feet without seeing a doctor.
An athlete should see a specialist for overpronation if they are experiencing chronic injury or pain, especially if they have tried to self correct the problem themselves.