As you walk, your feet and legs propel your body forward. During a normal gait cycle, your feet land on either side of an imaginary line that moves forward in the direction you’re traveling. You begin to walk with one leg extended in front of the other. As the heel on your forward leg hits the ground, your knee should be slightly bent. Your landing foot will roll forward, stabilize and allow your body’s weight to be shifted to this foot. Your bent knee on this leg will absorb the shock of the step. As your leg moves straight over your foot, this is called mid-stance. As your leg continues to move forward, the knee straightens. The heel on your forward foot will lift off of the ground, transferring all the force of the step to the ball of your foot. While this action occurs, your rear foot forcefully pushes off from your toes. This motion, called propulsion, moves your body forward. Your rear leg and foot will then swing forward like a pendulum, becoming the forward leg and foot. This process is then repeated rhythmically with every step you make and is known as the gait cycle.
Every step you take involves some degree of pronation (tilting inward) and supination (tilting outward). Your ankle joints must pronate at mid-stance; and they must supinate at propulsion in order for you to have a biomechanically efficient gait cycle.
During overpronation or excessive pronation, your heels or ankles tilt inward too much when you’re standing or walking. The muscles in your lower legs will pull, and your knees will turn inward (also known as knock-kneed). Plus your feet may point outwards.
As you walk, the arches of your feet will collapse when they bear your body weight, allowing your feet to make full contact with the ground. Overpronation is very common in people with flat feet, but people with medium-arched feet usually overpronate, too.
When you overpronate, it pulls your knees and hips out of alignment and twists your back. Over time, overpronation can lead to fatigue and microscopic tears in the muscles and tendons that may trigger inflammation, swelling, pain, and even scarring throughout the lower half of the body. Most people who overpronate have decreased stability in their knees, a shorter stride and poorer balance. Eventually, they suffer from knee, hip and lower back pain.
Overpronation causes up to 95% of all foot problems, including bunions, plantar fasciitis, heel pain, arch pain, heel spurs, metatarsalgia, and tendonitis.
What Can I Do for Overpronation?
If you suspect you overpronate, you should have your feet and gait evaluated by a certified professional.
You should wear supportive, properly fitted footwear. Refer to our Shoe Fitting Guide for more information on how to fit your shoes properly. Also, extra-wide fitting shoes can improve any symptoms you may have.
Custom orthotics, like ezWalker® Performance Insoles, strategically raise the arches of your feet to provide you with the proper biomechanical support needed to correct overpronation. Your feet will be guided to walk from lateral heel to medial forefoot. And since your feet will be better biomechanically aligned, each step will be controlled throughout the gait cycle. So, you’ll have reduced stress and strain on your feet, knees, hips and lower back. Also, these arch supports will help you maintain balance, stability and proper posture while providing pain relief.
Because … when your feet feel good, you feel good.
If you follow these guidelines and problems persist, visit your doctor for a thorough evaluation, diagnosis and treatment.