Pronation refers to the inward roll of the foot during normal motion and occurs as the outer edge of the heel strikes the ground and the foot rolls inward and flattens out. A moderate amount of pronation is required for the foot to function properly, however damage and injury can occur during excessive pronation. When excessive pronation does occur the foot arch flattens out and stretches the muscles, tendons and ligaments underneath the foot.
Flat feet don’t automatically mean you have a problem. The problem can be divided into a flexible flat foot or rigid flat foot. The rigid flat foot is one that does not change shape when the foot becomes weight bearing. i.e. it does not go through the excessive motion of pronation. Generally speaking this foot does not provide too many problems. The flexible flat foot is the type that when it becomes weight bearing the foot and ankle tends to roll in (pronates) too far. This type of person will often say I have great arches but when I stand up much of this arch disappears as the foot excessively pronates When the foot is excessively pronating and causing problems like sore ankles, feet or knees when standing or exercising then arch support is extremely important to restore the foot structure.
Eventually, over-pronation can lead to a full list of maladies including flat feet, plantar fasciitis, plantar fibroma, neuromas, heel spurs, shin splints, ankle sprains, bunions, hammertoes, calluses, and pain in the arches, knee, hip and lower back. But it doesn?t have to go that far, because there are steps we can take to correct the over-pronation. In the vast majority of cases, we?ll prescribe custom foot orthotics, which will realign your ankles, redistribute the weight, support the arch and reduce the twisting. Many orthotics will fit snugly into your normal shoes. Although we?ll also take a look at the type of shoes you wear to see if they are contributing to the problem.
Bunions, calluses and crooked toes may indicate alignment problems. So, it is important to ascertain the condition of a client’s toes. Check the big toe to determine if the first joint of the toe is swollen, has a callus or bunion, and/or looks as though it abducts (i.e., hallux valgus) rather than pointing straight ahead. Also, look to see if the lesser toes seem to “curl up” (i.e., the person has hammer or claw toes). This may be indicative of damage to, or inflexibility of the plantar fascia caused by excessive flattening of the foot.
Non Surgical Treatment
Adequate footwear can often help with conditions related to flat feet and high arches. Certified Pedorthists recommend selecting shoes featuring heel counters that make the heel of the shoe stronger to help resist or reduce excessive rearfoot motions. The heel counter is the hard piece in the back of the shoe that controls the foot?s motion from side-to-side. You can quickly test the effectiveness of a shoe?s heel counter by placing the shoe in the palm of your hand and putting your thumb in the mid-portion of the heel, trying to bend the back of the shoe. A heel counter that does not bend very much will provide superior motion control. Appropriate midsole density, the firmer the density, the more it will resist motion (important for a foot that overpronates or is pes planus), and the softer the density, the more it will shock absorb (important for a cavus foot with poor shock absorption) Wide base of support through the midfoot, to provide more support under a foot that is overpronated or the middle of the foot is collapsed inward.
Subtalar Arthroereisis. The ankle and hindfoot bones/midfoot bones around the joint are fused, locking the bones in place and preventing all joint motion. This may also be done in combination with fusion at other joints. This is a very aggressive option usually reserved for extreme cases where no joint flexibility is present and/or the patient has severe arthritic changes in the joint.