Over Pronation (Flat Feet) refers to the biomechanical shock-absorbing motion of the ankle, foot and lower leg. It is the natural inward flexing motion of the lower leg and ankle. Standing, walking, and running cause the ankle joint to pronate which in turn helps the body to absorb shock and allows it to control balance. An ankle joint that is too flexible causes more pronation than desired. This common condition is called Over- Pronation (sometimes referred to as “Flat Feet”). This foot condition places an extreme degree of strain on various connective tissues of the ankle, foot, and knee. If this condition is not addressed foot pain and toe deformities such as bunions and hammer toes (just to name a couple) may develop. Hip and lower back pain may also be residual results from this condition.
In adults, the most common reason for the onset of Over-Pronation is a condition known as Post Tibial Tendonitis. This condition develops from repetitive stress on the main supporting tendon (Posterior Tibial Tendon) of the foot arch. As the body ages, ligaments and muscles can weaken. When this occurs the job of providing the majority of the support required by the foot arch is placed upon this tendon. Unfortunately, this tendon cannot bear the weight of this burden for too long. Eventually it fatigues under the added strain and in doing so the foot arch becomes progressively lower over a period of time.
Over-pronation is a condition where the arch flattens out which makes the feet roll inward while walking. This condition is also known as flat feet. It imposes extreme additional stresses on the plantar fascia, a fibrous band of tissue which connects the heel to the forefoot. Over-pronation makes walking a painful experience because of the additional strain on the calves, heel and/or back. Treatment for over-pronation involves the use of specially-made orthotics which offers arch support and medial rear foot posting as corrective measures.
A quick way to see if you over-pronate is to look for these signs. While standing straight with bare feet on the floor, look so see if the inside of your arch or sole touches the floor. Take a look at your hiking or running shoes; look for wear on the inside of the sole. Wet your feet and walk on a surface that will show the foot mark. If you have a neutral foot you should see your heel connected to the ball of your foot by a mark roughly half of width of your sole. If you over-pronate you will see greater than half and up to the full width of your sole.
Non Surgical Treatment
The following exercises help retrain the foot and ankle complex to correct overpronation. Step Up and Over. This exercise is designed to integrate skills learned in the Duck Stand, Big Toe Pushdowns and Side Step with Opposite Reach exercises to mimic walking and even running. Using the gluteal muscles and big toe in tandem will prevent overpronation while moving back and forth over the BT in a more effective, balanced motion. Movement Directions. Stand with left foot on top of the BT dome. (Note: For added balance, the right foot can tap on the ground, if needed). Extend right foot backwards to the ground and drop hips into a lunge position. Make sure that the right arm rotates across the left leg (this will activate the gluteal muscles on the left side). Now, step through and over the BT into a front lunge with the right leg forward. While lunging forward, the torso and left arm now rotate over the right leg. Throughout the exercise, push big toe down into the BT. Perform 8 to 10 repetitions on both sides.
Subtalar Arthroereisis. The ankle and hindfoot bones/midfoot bones around the joint are fused, locking the bones in place and preventing all joint motion. This may also be done in combination with fusion at other joints. This is a very aggressive option usually reserved for extreme cases where no joint flexibility is present and/or the patient has severe arthritic changes in the joint.