Why is overpronation important for runners to understand?

The way in which the foot functions or works may have a significant impact on the rest of the body. The feet are widely considered as the foundation of the body and just like the tall building analogy, if that platform is not right, then something can go wrong above. There are various kinds of alignment problems that can impact that platform and how the feet interact with the surface. That interaction will have numerous affects further up the body.

Among the problems that can go wrong is something that is generally called “overpronation”. This phrase can often be used and misused, so should probably not be used. The phrase refers to the feet rolling inwards at the ankle joint as well as the mid-foot (arch) of the foot flattening. This is actually quite a normal movement and is only a issue if there to an excessive amount of it. The reason why the term is such a problem is that there is no agreement as to what is too much and what is normal. This leads to plenty of uncertainty in research as well as in clinical practice, especially when decisions have to be made if the overpronation should be addressed or not.

The outcomes that this problem may have on the body are alleged to vary from hallux valgus and plantar fasciitis in the feet to lower leg and knee joint problems in runners. There are several methods to treat it, again with a lot of disagreement between health care professionals as to the best way to manage it. Logically the treatment of the overpronation should really be geared towards the cause and there isn't any such thing as a one size fits all. If the problem is due to tight calf muscles, then stretches of those tight muscles would be the rational treatment. When the issue is the control of muscles at the hip, then the treatment ought to be aimed towards that. If the condition is caused by weak foot muscles, then that is the best place to start the therapy with exercises. When the problem is because of a bony alignment issue in the foot, then foot supports are often prescribed.