Over-pronation is very common and affects millions of Australians. To better understand this condition, we'll take a closer look at the 3 most common foot types. An estimated 70% of the population
has fallen arches (or a low arch). Only 20% have a normal arch. And 10% have abnormal feet, in other words they either have flat feet or the opposite, a high arched foot. Most of us have a low arch.
The foot actually appears quite normal and a clear (but low) arch is present under the foot, especially when sitting down. The situation changes with weight-bearing: when we get up the arch lowers.
When we start walking the arches collapse and the ankles roll inwards. This is called over-pronation or fallen arches. Over-pronation is not the same as flat feet as often noted.
Generally fallen arches are a condition inherited from one or both parents. In addition, age, obesity, and pregnancy cause our arches to collapse. Being in a job that requires long hours of standing
and/or walking (e.g. teaching, retail, hospitality, building etc) contributes to this condition, especially when standing on hard surfaces like concrete floors. Last, but not least unsupportive
footwear makes our feet roll in more than they should.
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.
Do the wet foot test. Get your feet wet and walk along a paved surface or sand and look at the footprints you leave. If you have neutral feet you will see a print of the heel with a thin strip
connecting to your forefoot, but if you're overpronating your foot print will look a bit like a giant blob with toes.
Non Surgical Treatment
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.
Exercises to strengthen and stretch supporting muscles will help to keep the bones in proper alignment. Duck stance: Stand with your heels together and feet turned out. Tighten the buttock muscles,
slightly tilt your pelvis forwards and try to rotate your legs outwards. You should feel your arches rising while you do this exercise. Calf stretch: Stand facing a wall and place hands on it for
support. Lean forwards until stretch is felt in the calves. Hold for 30 seconds. Bend at knees and hold for a further 30 seconds. Repeat 5 times. Golf ball: While drawing your toes upwards towards
your shins, roll a golf ball under the foot between 30 and 60 seconds. If you find a painful point, keep rolling the ball on that spot for 10 seconds. Big toe push:
Stand with your ankles in a neutral position (without rolling the foot inwards). Push down with your big toe but do not let the ankle roll inwards or the arch collapse. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 10
times. Build up to longer times and fewer repetitions. Ankle strengthener: Place a ball between your foot and a wall. Sitting down and keeping your toes pointed upwards, press the outside of the foot
against the ball, as though pushing it into the wall. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times. Arch strengthener: Stand on one foot on the floor. The movements needed to remain balanced will
strengthen the arch. When you are able to balance for 30 seconds, start doing this exercise using a wobble board.