Flat feet or foot pronation is common and often people with flat feet never have any problems. However, it can lead to over pronation when walking and running, this is a biomechanical problem when the arch of the foot collapses during weight bearing. This can have a knock on effect up the leg causing the knee to roll inwards, the hip and pelvis to rotate and even torsion in the lower back. Subsequently, over pronation can lead to lots of different injuries from plantar fasciitis to lower back pain. Therefore, assessment and correction of over pronation is a crucial part of any rehabilitation program. This can be done with orthotics.
Unless there is a severe, acute injury, overpronation develops as a gradual biomechanical distortion. Several factors contribute to developing overpronation, including tibialis posterior weakness, ligament weakness, excess weight, pes planus (flat foot), genu valgum (knock knees), subtalar eversion, or other biomechanical distortions in the foot or ankle. Tibialis posterior weakness is one of the primary factors leading to overpronation. Pronation primarily is controlled by the architecture of the foot and eccentric activation of the tibialis posterior. If the tibialis posterior is weak, the muscle cannot adequately slow the natural pronation cycle.
Overpronation can negatively affect overall body alignment. The lowering of the longitudinal arch pulls the heel bone in, causing the leg, thigh bone and hip to rotate inwards, and an anterior tilt of the pelvis. Unnecessary strain to the ankles, knees, hips and back can result. Plantar fasciitis and inflammation, metatarsal pain, problems with the Achilles tendon, pain on the inside of the knee, and bursitis in the hip are just some of the conditions commonly associated with pronation.
If you have flat feet or low arches, chances are you overpronate. Although not always the case, the lower your arches the greater the overpronate. Stand on a hard surface (in front of a mirror if you need to) and look at your feet, flat feet or low arches are easy to spot. If your feet look flatter than a pancake, have a look at your ankles and see if they seem collapsed or straight. If they are, you're overpronating.
Non Surgical Treatment
Over-Pronation can be treated conservatively (non-surgical treatments) with over-the-counter orthotics. These orthotics should be designed with appropriate arch support and medial rearfoot posting to prevent the over-pronation. Footwear should also be examined to ensure there is a proper fit. Footwear with a firm heel counter is often recommended for extra support and stability. Improper fitting footwear can lead to additional problems of the foot.
Massage and stretch the calves to increase dorsiflexion at the foot/ankle. Dorsiflexion is the bending at the ankle. By improving the dorsiflexion, one will have more flexibility at the ankle, which will allow the foot to over-pronate less. Massage the IT Band with a foam roller or tennis ball to quiet down the tightness throughout this part of the leg. The IT Band attaches from the glute maximus and runs down the side of the leg into the knee area. When the IT Band is tight it will accelerate the force of the leg moving inward, which will cause the foot to move inward as well. It is often that tightness through the IT Band that promotes over-pronation. Decreasing over-pronation, which is very prominent in runners, will help add endurance, speed and efficiency to your run and ultimately place less stress on your body.