If you are older than two, walking is probably something you don’t give much thought to (unless things are going awry). As such, you might be unfamiliar with the process that your foot goes through with every step: pronation. This biomechanical motion is necessary for handling the stress of your steps, but can also cause problems when performed in an abnormal fashion.
What is Pronation?
Your body endures a tremendous amount of force when you walk throughout the course of the day. As reported by The New York Times, and verified by A.D.A.M. (Animated Dissection of Anatomy for Medicine), a typical day consists of around 8,000-10,000 steps. This is significant because the force of impact from a step while walking is 1 ½ times your bodyweight (and that jumps up to 3 to 4 times when running). This means your feet face a total amount of force on daily basis equivalent to several hundred tons.
Given all of that, it becomes clear that your body needs to effectively handle the physical stress. This is where the way your foot moves comes into play. Your feet utilize a rolling motion that begins with the heel striking the ground and continues all the way up to the final push from the toes. The purpose of this motion is to distribute forces in an equitable manner.
Arch and Pronation Styles
Your individual arch style plays a major role in how you pronate. Basically, if you have a moderate, “normal” arch, your foot movement is also moderate. Individuals with low arches have a tendency to overpronate and those with high arches do the opposite (supinate).
- Pronating. In this style, the feet roll approximately fifteen percent from the point of heel strike to the final push of the toes. This is considered to be the most efficient of the variations, but it is not necessarily experienced by most individuals.
- Overpronating. When the rolling motion is excessive, it is said that an individual overpronates. If this is your style, you can observe heavy wear on the inside edges of your shoes, especially in the front and back areas.
- Supinating. The opposite is true for one who supinates. This means that the feet roll less than the optimal fifteen percent we find in a neutral style. The wear pattern on your shoes will be greatest on the outside edges. Out of the three types, this is the rarest.
Complications from Abnormal Foot Movement
Common issues experienced by those who overpronate include Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, calluses, and bunions. This style also can lead to pain in the feet, ankles, knees, hips, and even the back. When the foot rotates excessively, it forces the other lower body parts to move in an unnatural fashion.
Individuals who supinate often experience plantar fasciitis, iliotibial band syndrome, and Achilles tendinitis. Also, due to the increased amount of force placed upon bones in the feet and ankles, stress fractures are more common for those with this biomechanical abnormality.
Treatment for Pronation Problems
Your first step is to ensure that you have the proper footwear. Shoe manufacturers create models specifically designed for individuals who either overpronate or supinate. Purchase your shoes from stores that are staffed with knowledgeable individuals who can guide you to the styles that work best for you.
In addition to wearing proper shoes, you may benefit from a pair of custom orthotics. These medical devices fit into your shoes, are based on your feet and gait style, and correct abnormalities with your pronation. The expert foot doctors here at Shenandoah Podiatry can craft a pair for you. Also, our podiatrists can help treat any issues—like plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, bunions—that arise on account of biomechanical abnormalities.
Expert Podiatric Care in Roanoke, VA
When overpronation or supination cause you pain or interfere with your ability to do activities that you enjoy doing, it is time to seek help. If you are resident of the Roanoke Valley community, schedule an appointment with us online today, or reach our Roanoke, VA office at (540) 904-1458.