For individuals over the age of 2 years old, walking is not something given much thought (unless things are going terribly wrong!). This means the odds are strong you’re unfamiliar with a particular biomechanical process your foot goes through with every step called pronation. This biomechanical motion is needed so your feet can handle stressful forces. Sometimes, though, problems arise when the pronation is performed in an abnormal fashion.
Your feet endure a tremendous amount of force every time you walk throughout the day. The force of impact on the landing foot when you take a step is equal to roughly 1 ½ times your bodyweight (and that jumps up to 3 to 4 times when running!). If you take the time to do the math, that means your feet have a total amount of several hundred tons of force placed upon them every day!
To help accommodate this amount of daily force, your feet utilize a rolling motion known as pronation that starts when the heel strikes the ground. The foot continues to roll—as the foot arches flatten—throughout the ground portion of the step, all the way through the final push from the toes. This biomechanical process helps distribute forces in an equitable manner.
That being said, there are variances in how everyone pronates, and this can be the source of problems.
Your individual arch style plays a major role in how you pronate. Basically, if you have a moderate, “normal” arch, your pronation style is also moderate. Individuals with low arches have a tendency to overpronate and those with high arches do the opposite (supinate).
- Overpronation. When the rolling motion is excessive, it is said that an individual overpronates. If this is your pronation style, you can observe heavy wear on the inside edges of your shoes, especially in the front and back areas.
- Supination. Whereas someone who overpronates has an excessive rolling motion, 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.
Common issues experienced by those who overpronate include Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, calluses, and bunions. This pronation 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.
No matter if you overpronate, supinate, or pronate normally, problems can (and do!) develop in lower limbs. If you develop a foot or ankle problem, contact Foot & Ankle Clinic of the Virginias so we can create a treatment plan to effectively resolve it for you. Call us today at (800) 456-8637 to request your appointment!