n a normal functioning ankle and foot there should be 15- to 20-degrees of ankle dorsiflexion present (leg moving forward on top of the foot; or, same as the foot bending backward toward the leg) as well as 60- to 65-degrees of first toe extension (bending backward). Foot pronation (turning downward or inward) and supination (turning upward or outward) are normal and needed movements for proper function during the gait cycle. All feet must do this and do it well in order to minimize the forces that the body has to deal with during walking or running, and also to create the lever that is needed for propulsion.
There may be several possible causes of over pronation. The condition may begin as early as birth. However, there are several more common explanations for the condition. First, wear and tear on the muscles throughout the foot, either from aging or repetitive strain, causes the muscles to weaken, thereby causing the foot to turn excessively inward. Also, standing or walking on high heels for an extended period of time also places strain and pressure on the foot which can weaken the tissue. Lastly, shoes play a very common factor in the development of over pronation. Shoes that fail to provide adequate support through the arch commonly lead to over pronation.
If ignored, overpronation can lead to complications such as hammer toes, corns and calluses, shin splints, hallux rigidus and many more foot and lower leg problems. Hammer toes appear when the toes are placed under too much pressure and the ligaments and muscles in the toes begin to reduce in size, leading to the curvature of the toes and making them look like little hammers. Overpronators can develop hammertoes if they don?t wear an appropriate pair of shoes. Corns and calluses also appear as a result of overpronation. They form in response to excess pressure, and overpronators may find that they have excessive hard skin on the balls of the feet and inside edge of the big toe. It is the body?s way of protecting against excessive forces and friction. They can be painful.
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
Fortunately, there are simple things you can do to cure and correct your overpronation issues. Certain exercises help. Pull your toes back using a rolled up towel. Roll your feet over a golf or tennis ball for a minute. And do calf raises by standing up and lifting up on your toes. These all help reposition the foot and strengthen the muscles and tendons necessary for proper support. Beyond that, simple adjustments to footwear will help immensely.
With every step we take, we place at least half of our body weight on each foot (as we walk faster, or run, we can exert more than twice our body weight on each foot). As this amount of weight is applied to each foot there is a significant shock passed on to our body. Custom-made orthotics will absorb some of this shock, helping to protect our feet, ankles, knees, hips, and lower back.