What is it?
The term pronation is actually a description of directional movement that can be used in reference to various body segments. For instance, a tennis player should pronate the hand while serving and a pitcher should pronate the hand during delivery. In the foot, pronation describes an in-rolling or collapsing of the longitudinal arch during weight bearing. This sounds pretty bad doesn't it? Well, maybe yes and maybe no. Some pronation is good because it allows our foot and ankle to function correctly and makes it possible for us to walk effectively on an uneven ground surface. Pronation only becomes a problem when it exceeds the normal range. If the foot remains in-rolled or collapsed for a longer time period then it should, then we have an unstable foot, which can lead to a wide variety of clinical problems. Bunions, corns, calluses, heel pain, shin splints, knee pain and the list goes on and on, can all be caused directly or indirectly by excessive pronation. In a sense, excessive pronation should be the potential public enemy number one and the possible cause of a good deal of our foot grief.
What causes it?
As stated earlier, we pronate out of necessity, in order to adequately adapt to uneven ground surfaces. In short, our ability to walk, stand, and function throughout normal gait is largely dependent upon our capacity to pronate. However, in some instances, our mechanics or functioning capabilities become abnormal and excessive pronation is a common result. A two hundred-pound man standing on his feet all day on cement floors with two poorly supported ankles due to excessive pronation is predictably waiting for clinical problems to occur.
How do you treat it?
The treatment of excessive pronation is more difficult than what it might seem. A thorough examination by a foot specialist is necessary in order to identify not only the degree or extent of pronation but also the source of the excessive motion. Orthotics or supportive functional devices are the chief means of treating this condition. The foot specialist will prescribe and utilize a specific product to address the particular needs of the patient. It is important to keep in mind that pronation is much like candy...a little bit is good while too much can cause decay.