What is overpronation?
Overpronation happens when your gait (the way you walk or run) eventually causes the arches of your feet to flatten more than they would normally. That puts strain on muscles, tendons and ligaments that support your arches. Overpronation increases the risk you’ll injure your foot and leg. But you can correct the problem with exercise and by adding orthotic insoles to your shoes.
Who is likely to develop overpronation?
People who have slightly flattened feet are more likely to develop overpronation. Other conditions or activities are:
- Having obesity.
- Running or walking on hard surfaces for long periods.
What is the difference between overpronation and flat feet (flat foot?)
Overpronation refers to your gait, or the way you walk, which can cause flat feet. Flat feet (flat foot) is a medical condition when you have little to no arch in your foot. Flat feet can be hereditary or develop over time.
In some cases, people have flat feet (flat foot) because they never developed arches in their feet. In other cases, your arches suddenly fall or collapse after injuring the leg tendon that supports your arches. This condition is fallen arches or adult-acquired flat foot.
What is the difference between overpronation and underpronation?
Both terms describe the way you pronate, or walk. Overpronation and underpronation happen when your foot lands on your heels’ outer edges. Ideally, your feet transfer the landing impact to the balls of your feet. In overpronation, your feet shift the impact too far. In underpronation, also known as supination, your feet don’t shift the impact far enough. With overpronation, your foot rolls inward when you walk. With underpronation, your foot rolls outward when you walk.
Symptoms and Causes
What causes overpronation?
Overpronation can cause your feet to flatten. Most people who develop overpronation often start with slightly flattened feet. If you already have flat feet, you’re more inclined to develop overpronation.
What are overpronation symptoms?
The soles of your shoes might provide the first clue you have overpronation. If the inside section of your shoes’ soles show more wear than the outside section, you might have overpronation.
Other signs are conditions you might develop because you have overpronation. Overpronation is linked to several conditions and symptoms, such as:
- Achilles tendinitis: This happens when you put stress on your Achilles tendon.
- Bunions: Bunions are painful bony lumps on the outside of your big toe.
- Heel pain: You can have pain behind, beneath or within your heel bone.
- Iliotibial band syndrome: This is inflammation of a ligament on the outside of your knee.
- Plantar fasciitis: Your plantar fascia is the tendon that stretches from your heel to your toe.
- Shin splints: This is a common injury caused by overuse.
- Hip pain: Overpronation may make your hips hurt.
- Knee pain: You can develop knee pain if you have overpronation.
- Back pain: Sometimes, overpronation causes back pain.
Diagnosis and Tests
How do healthcare providers diagnose overpronation?
Your healthcare provider will start by checking your arches, including how well your arches function when you put weight on them. They may evaluate your gait or the way you walk, too.
Management and Treatment
What is the treatment for overpronation?
Treatment for overpronation usually includes:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication.
- Supportive taping or bracing.
- Orthotics inserts.
- Physical therapy.
How can I prevent overpronation?
You can prevent overpronation by wearing shoes that fit well and support your arches. If you’re still concerned, ask your healthcare provider for a formal diagnosis.
Outlook / Prognosis
What can I expect if I have overpronation?
Most people who have overpronation can manage symptoms by making a few changes to their routines:
- Put orthotic inserts into your shoes. Inserts help support your arches, which helps avoid overpronation.
- If you often run or walk, try to do your running or walking on soft surfaces or grass.
How do I take care of myself if I have overpronation?
There are several ways to take care of yourself:
- Add orthotic inserts to your shoes.
- Wear shoes that support your arches.
- If you run or walk a lot, pick places where you can run on grass or other soft surfaces.
When should I see my healthcare provider?
You should see your healthcare provider any time you have persistent foot, ankle or leg pain that doesn’t go away after rest.
What questions should I ask my doctor?
- Do I have flat feet?
- How did I develop flat feet?
- What is overpronation?
- How can I avoid overpronation?
- Will my flat feet go away with exercise?
- Can I still run with flat feet?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
If you don’t have flat feet, overpronation increases the chance you’ll develop flat feet. If do you have flat feet, overpronation can cause serious injuries that require treatment and time to heal. If you think you might have flat feet, talk to your healthcare provider. They’ll diagnose your condition and recommend ways to help you keep your feet in good shape so you can stay up to speed with your daily activities.
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