Understanding Abnormal Foot Motions: The Basics of Excessive Pronation

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You probably don’t think about it much, but every time you take a step, the way in which your foot hits the ground can significantly affect your entire body. Whether you are walking your dog in the park, jogging on a treadmill at the gym, or walking across the tile floor in your kitchen, the interactions between your foot, your shoes, and the ground can either create chronic pain or keep you feeling comfortable and pain-free.

One of the most common abnormal foot motions is excessive pronation. Understanding what it is, what problems it can cause, and what you can do to solve those problems is an important first step toward making sure that all of your steps support your health, keeping you free from chronic pain and injury.

What is Pronation?

Think about what happens when your foot strikes the ground: First, the outer edge of your heel impacts the surface. Then, your foot rolls slightly inward and your arch flattens out a bit. The inward rolling motion of your foot is referred to as pronation, and it is essential for normal walking and running. Pronation helps with shock absorption, and it makes it possible for your body to adapt to uneven surfaces.

The Difference Between Pronation and Excessive Pronation

If your foot rolls too far inward, it can reach the level of excessive pronation. When prontation becomes excessive, the arch of your foot flattens out too much, which can strain the muscles, ligaments, and tendons of your foot, ankle, and leg. As a result, your foot won’t be able to effectively absorb the shock of the impact with the ground, and the shock will be passed on to your legs, knees, hips and spine. This can lead to a wide range of chronic and acute conditions, including:

  • Foot pain (in the heel or the arch)
  • Shin splints
  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Knee pain
  • Hip pain
  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Stress fractures

Because of the inward rolling motion associated with excessive pronation, it also causes your inner toes to do most of the work to push off for your next step. This can create and exacerbate foot-specific problems, including:

  • Blisters
  • Calluses
  • Corns
  • Bunions
  • Plantar fasciitis

What Are the Causes of Excessive Pronation?

Unfortunately, the most common causes of excessive pronation are outside of your control. People who have flat feet, low arches, or highly flexible arches are more likely to over-pronate — and those are conditions that you are born with or which develop naturally over time.

However, there are also acquired conditions that can lead to excessive pronation. For instance, if you experience a leg or foot injury, your body might compensate by over-pronating. The same thing can occur if you suffer from chronic pain conditions, such as tendonitis and arthritis. Excessive pronation is also associated with weight gain and aging.

How Can I Tell If I Over-Pronate?

If you have one of the risk factors for excessive pronation and think that it might be causing you problems, a quick way to check if you are over-pronating is to examine a pair of shoes that you wear often. If the inside edge of the sole of the shoe is more worn than the outside edge — especially around the heel, the midfoot, and the ball of the foot — it’s a pretty good sign of excessive pronation. Another dead giveaway is if your shoe appears to tilt inward when you place it on a flat surface and look at it from behind.

It is important to note that these are just quick checks for over-pronation. To confirm your suspicions, you need to see a healthcare professional, like a podiatrist or a chiropractor.

What Can I Do About Excessive Pronation?

A simple, non-invasive solution for excessive pronation is to use custom-made functional orthotics. Functional orthotics can be inserted into your shoes, and they are designed to guide your feet through each step in a way that prevents excessive pronation. Unlike the generic orthotics you might see at a sporting goods store, they are designed to specifically to address your individual biomechanical issues, which makes them far more effective for reducing pain and preventing further injury.

Excessive pronation can also create biomechanical imbalances in your body that won’t immediately be solved by inserting custom orthotics. Often, before the pain starts to subside, you need to get your body back in alignment. A chiropractic adjustment is an ideal way to put your body back in balance so that you can get the most out of your new custom orthotics.

Atlanta Chiropractic and Wellness offers custom-made functional orthotics that can correct excessive pronation. We also provide affordable chiropractic adjustments that can help ease some of the pain that individuals who over-pronate often experience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

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