Overpronation is the exaggerated inward rolling of the foot and ankle, which can lead to a collapsed arch and flat feet. Many people overpronate and do not even realize it; one way to tell is to simply look at the foot and see how it is placed on the ground when standing in a neutral position. Another way is to wet the bottom of the foot and step on a piece of paper. If the entire imprint of the foot is shown, it means you overpronate.
There are many causes of flat feet. Obesity, pregnancy or repetitive pounding on a hard surface can weaken the arch leading to over-pronation. Often people with flat feet do not experience discomfort immediately, and some never suffer from any discomfort at all. However, when symptoms develop and become painful, walking becomes awkward and causes increased strain on the feet and calves.
Overpronation can be a contributing factor in other lower extremity disorders, such as foot pain, plantar fasciitis, ankle injuries, medial tibial stress syndrome (shin splints), periostitis, stress fractures and myofascial trigger points. Overpronation increases the degree of internal tibial rotation, thereby contributing to various knee disorders such as meniscal injury or ligament sprains. The effects of the postural deviation are exaggerated in athletes due to the increase in foot strikes while running and the greater impact load experienced. When running, three to four times the body weight is experienced with each foot strike.2 If overpronation exists, the shock force is not adequately absorbed by the foot and is transmitted further up the kinetic chain.
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
If you overpronate, you should talk with a foot and ankle specialist, especially if symptoms have not developed yet. Questions you may want to ask your doctor include what are the best running shoes on the market? Where can I find those shoes? If over-the-counter orthotics don?t work, how long should I wait before contacting you for custom-made orthotics? On my next visit, what type of diagnostic testing should I expect? If I limit the amount of time I spend running, will my overpronation symptoms disappear? What additional treatment options can we try?
Depending on the severity of your condition, your surgeon may recommend one or more treatment options. Ultimately, however, it's YOUR decision as to which makes the most sense to you. There are many resources available online and elsewhere for you to research the various options and make an informed decision.