The mechanics of how we walk and move is important to ensuring that we remain injury free, unfortunately however, in many cases the architecture of the foot can disrupt our gait (the way we walk), potentially causing long term injury and pain problems. One such gait problem is called over-pronation, and as it is caused by the shape and movement of the foot, it falls under the care and management of podiatrists, specialists in managing ailments of the lower limbs.
What is over-pronation?
Over-pronation describes a characteristic gait wherein a lack of sufficient support from the arch of the foot causes it to roll inwards as weight is placed on it. The long arch of the foot is actually a very important structure in terms of our gait and how we walk, it is responsible for ensuring that as our weight rolls from the heel to the balls of our feet it does so in a straight line that doesn’t place undue stress on the ankle or knees. Unfortunately when a person’s arch is not pronounced enough, or even simply not there (a condition called flat footedness), there isn’t enough arch support to maintain a healthy, forward motion of the foot.
When a foot over-pronates stress is unduly placed on the inside of the ankle and the knee, and over a long period of time, particularly if a person is involved in sports and running, this added stress starts to damage structures in the knee and ankle. The result is usually pain, particularly when running, which typically varies in severity.
If the arch of the foot is weak, usually due to a lack of strength in supporting muscles of the foot, it can collapse over time, so people who aren’t flat footed can sometimes start to over-pronate in time. This can stress tissues on the underside of the foot, causing painful conditions like bunions (the abnormal inflammation and protrusion of the big toe’s joint) and Plantar Fasciitis (painful inflammation of connective tissues in the sole of the foot).
Flat feet can also be caused by other conditions like pregnancy or obesity, both of which place a lot of stress on the arch of the foot. Regardless of cause, over-pronation needs to be treated effectively to prevent lasting injury to the foot, ankle, knee, and even hip, as the condition can severely affect the normal alignment and movement of our bodies.
Podiatric treatment of over-pronation
We will examine your foot and its shape to determine whether or not over-pronation is the cause of your pain. If we determines that it is a problem with arch support that is giving you trouble, then we can effectively remedy that lack of support with orthotics.
Orthotics are medical devices used to provide support to correct a physical abnormality. They can provide arch support when needed to remedy over-pronation, and in this particular cases the orthoses used are usually convenient shoe inserts. These can be taken in and out of shoes, and will be carefully tailored by your podiatrist to the specifics of your foot.
It can take some weeks before the effects of the inserts can become truly noticeable, and in many cases your podiatrist will want to review your orthotics within a few weeks to make fine adjustments based on how well they have worked to reduce your pain.
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