Over-Pronation And Flat feet
Written by Michelle Champlin BSc Pod., M.Ch.S., S.R., Ch., (UK)
What Is Over-Pronation?
Your feet are the foundation of your body. Your feet have 52 bones, 66 joints, 214 ligaments and 38 muscles. You take between 8000-10000 steps every single day and healthy, pain free feet are essential to leading a happy and active life.
Your feet do two main jobs – stability and mobility. They keep us stable and upright and act as a lever to help move us forward. The help us to be mobile through shock absorption and at different paces (or ‘gaits’) from walking to sprinting. About 30% of people have a ‘normally’ functioning foot. The rest of us will probably over-pronate (95% of those remaining), or more unusually ‘over-supinate’ (5%).
Pronation – within normal limits – is an entirely normal and in fact necessary function of the foot. It allows the forefoot to make complete contact with the ground
Over-pronation is the most common biomechanical anomaly that we see in our specialist clinic at Dubai Podiatry Centre. Simply put, ‘over-pronation’ is the rolling inwards of the ankle joint (or sub-talar joint) and collapse of the muscles forming the medial long arch of the foot. This makes the foot appear ‘flat’. This is not a ‘true’ flat foot and the biomechanical over-pronation simply causes the appearance of it. The good news is that this can be corrected – the ankle can be realigned to neutral and the arch tightened, toned and lifted back up.
Over-pronation is when a person pronates too much (excessively) and for too long. This makes walking and running for the person inefficient and sometimes can cause a variety of other issues such as heel pain, pain to the arches, ankle, knee and even hip pain. It also causes excessive degenerative wear and tear to the ankle, knee and hip joints.
What are the signs / symptoms?
Over-pronation can be the underlying root cause behind a range of other foot, ankle and leg problems:
• Hallux valgus (bunions)
• Corns, callous and hammer toes
• Shin splints
• Metatarsal / sesamoid fracture
• Medial knee pain
• Hip pain
• Lower back pain
• Achilles tendonitis
• Plantar fasciitis (excess strain on the plantar fascia – heel pain)
How can a Podiatrist help?
The Podiatrists at Dubai Podiatry Centre are biomechanical experts and renowned Chief Podiatrist Michelle Champlin is a biomechanics and orthotics specialist.
Mrs Champlin advises commencing custom orthotic therapy under the supervision of a qualified and experienced biomechanics podiatrist, who will carefully examine and assess you and take a mould / cast of your foot in order to hand-make custom prescription orthotics. These should be corrective, based on your individual prescription and made by the Podiatrist, in order to actually address and correct the mal-alignment. It is important that the Podiatrist sees your child back at regular intervals to change the prescription as required and monitor progress until end of treatment. Check that your Podiatrist is podiatry degree qualified by a recognised University and licensed by the local health authority (e.g. DHA).
Orthotic therapy has advanced greatly in recent years, with Dubai Podiatry Centre being a centre of excellence in developing innovative custom prescription orthotics to be worn discretely within most footwear, from regular sports and school shoes to work shoes. Nobody else will know that you are wearing orthotics.
Why should you correct flat feet?
Flat feet do not just affect your feet, but can also affect the rest of your alignment up to your knees, hips and lower back. This is why foot alignment should be corrected, both to address any foot pain and also to prevent any further problems later in life throughout the rest of the body. This is similar to making sure the foundations of a building are strong and sound, therefore preventing the rest of the building higher up from tilting, like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
The most common symptoms of flat foot are pain associated with joint stiffness and arthritis. Years of walking with flat feet can cause subsequent problems with the ankles, knees, hips and back. Children with symptomatic flat feet should be treated as early as possible to help prevent progression of the condition – we advise starting orthotic treatment at circa 5-6 years old. Flat feet can become progressively worse over time, sometimes leading to Tibialis Posterior Tendinitis (inflammation of the tendon of the tibialis posterior).
If you feel any form of leg, foot or ankle pain, early intervention is key. Similarly, if you notice what appears to be a ‘flat foot’ – may in fact be a collapsed arch, a common symptom of what is in fact an ankle alignment issue and over-pronation. This can generally be corrected by the qualified care and treatment of a biomechanics podiatrist with corrective orthotics.
Contact Dubai Podiatry Centre on +971 4 3435390 | WhatsApp: +971 50 3553024 for an appointment with biomechanics specialist podiatrist Michelle Champlin.