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01 Jun 2015 

The Facts Concerning Overpronation Of The Foot

Overview


Often misunderstood, pronation is considered by many to be a negative attribute; pronation is actually a good thing in the correct amount. Pronation is the body's response to the ground forces incurred during running and walking. When the foot impacts the ground, the arch elongates and flattens, which allows the foot to roll inward. This action helps the body to absorb shock. The degree to which the arch flattens is often associated with the degree the foot pronates. An ideal foot-strike is said to be neutral and is characterized by slight inward movement of the ankle-bone during stance (when the foot is in contact with the ground). Most runners for example exhibit over-pronation in varying degrees. 50-60% of runners exhibit mild to moderate over-pronation and are best suited for support orthotics. 20-30% of runners exhibit severe over-pronation and are best suited for motion control shoes.Overpronation


Causes


Congenital "Flat Feet" - an individual may be born with feet that lack an appropriately supportive arch thereby predisposing the individual to this foot condition. Excessive Weight (Obesity) Too much weight on the foot from either obesity or pregnancy may be a factor. Repetitive Impact walking on flat, hard surfaces continuously places unnatural stress on the foot arch.


Symptoms


Overpronation causes alterations in proper muscle recruitment patterns leading to tightness in the outside of the ankle (lateral gastrocnemius, soleus, and peroneals). This tightness can lead to weakness in the opposing muscles such as the medial gastrocnemius, anterior tibialis, and posterior tibialis. If these muscles are weak, they will not be able to keep the knee in proper alignment, causing the valgus position. All this tightness and weakness can cause pain within the ankle, calf, and knee region. And it can send imbalance and pain all the way up to the upper back, if deep core strength is lacking and can't hold the pelvis in neutral.


Diagnosis


Look at the wear on your shoes and especially running trainers; if you overpronate it's likely the inside of your shoe will be worn down (or seem crushed if they're soft shoes) from the extra strain.Pronation


Non Surgical Treatment


Solutions typically presented will include physical therapy sessions, prolonged prescription drug regimens, occasionally non-traditional approaches like holistic medicine and acupuncture. These options can provide symptom relief in the short term for some patients. However, these treatment methods cannot correct the internal osseous misalignment. Ligaments are not effective in limiting the motion of the ankle bone when excessive joint motion is present. Furthermore, there is not a single, specific ligament that is "too tight" that needs to be "stretched out." The muscles supporting the bones are already being "over-worked" and they cannot be strengthened enough to realign these bones. There is no evidence to suggest that any of these measures are effective in re-establishing or maintaining the normal joint alignment and function.


Prevention


Wear supportive shoes. If we're talking runners you're going to fall in the camp of needing 'motion control' shoes or shoes built for 'moderate' or 'severe' pronators. There are many good brands of shoes out there. Don't just wear these running, the more often the better. Make slow changes. Sudden changes in your training will aggravate your feet more than typical. Make sure you slowly increase your running/walking distance, speed and even how often you go per week. Strengthen your feet. As part of your running/walking warm up or just as part of a nightly routine try a few simple exercises to strengthen your feet, start with just ten of each and slowly add more sets and intensity. Stand facing a mirror and practice raising your arch higher off the ground without lifting your toes. Sit with a towel under your feet, scrunch your toes and try to pull the towel in under your feet. Sitting again with feet on the ground lift your heels as high as you can, then raise and lower on to toe tips.
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