O is for Overpronation

November 29, 2012

Overpronation is that term used and abused by runners, running shoe retailers and manufacturers that does not really mean anything.


Overpronation is a term used to describe the inward rolling motion of the foot during walking or running. It refers to the excessive inward movement of the foot’s arch and ankle joint beyond the normal range.

When a person overpronates, their foot tends to roll inward excessively as they land on the ground. This can cause the foot to flatten and the arch to collapse, resulting in the foot being less effective at absorbing shock and distributing forces properly. Over time, overpronation can lead to various foot and lower leg problems.

Some factors that contribute to overpronation include:

  1. Structural abnormalities: Certain foot structures, such as flat feet or low arches, may be more prone to overpronation.
  2. Muscle imbalances: Weakness or tightness in certain muscles of the foot, ankle, or leg can disrupt the normal movement and stability of the foot.
  3. Improper footwear: Shoes that lack proper arch support or stability can exacerbate overpronation.

The potential consequences of overpronation include:

  1. Plantar fasciitis: Excessive pronation can strain the plantar fascia, leading to inflammation and heel pain.
  2. Shin splints: Overpronation can contribute to increased stress on the shinbone (tibia), resulting in pain along the front of the lower leg.
  3. Achilles tendonitis: The excessive inward rolling motion can put additional stress on the Achilles tendon, leading to inflammation and pain.
  4. Bunions: Overpronation can contribute to the development or worsening of bunions, which are deformities of the big toe joint.
  5. Knee, hip, and back pain: Misalignment caused by overpronation can lead to improper joint mechanics and increased stress on the knees, hips, and lower back.

Managing overpronation typically involves a combination of supportive measures:

  1. Proper footwear: Wearing shoes with good arch support, stability features, and motion control can help support the foot and limit excessive pronation.
  2. Orthotic inserts: Custom or over-the-counter arch supports or orthotic inserts can provide additional support and help control pronation.
  3. Strengthening exercises: Exercises that target the muscles of the foot, ankle, and lower leg can improve stability and correct imbalances.
  4. Stretching: Stretching exercises for the calves, Achilles tendon, and plantar fascia can help improve flexibility and reduce stress on the foot.
  5. Physical therapy: In some cases, a physical therapist may provide guidance on specific exercises, manual therapy, or gait retraining to address overpronation.

Not all individuals with overpronation experience pain or require treatment. However, if overpronation is causing discomfort or contributing to foot or lower leg problems, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a podiatrist or physical therapist, for a proper evaluation and personalized recommendations.


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