n a normal functioning ankle and foot there should be 15- to 20-degrees of ankle dorsiflexion present (leg moving forward on top of the foot; or, same as the foot bending backward toward the leg) as well as 60- to 65-degrees of first toe extension (bending backward). Foot pronation (turning downward or inward) and supination (turning upward or outward) are normal and needed movements for proper function during the gait cycle. All feet must do this and do it well in order to minimize the forces that the body has to deal with during walking or running, and also to create the lever that is needed for propulsion.
A common cause of pronation is heredity – we can inherit this biomechanical defect. The second most common cause is due to the way our feet were positioned in the uterus while we were developing; this is called a congenital defect. In either instance, the following occurs in our feet during our development.
Due to the laxity of the soft tissue structures of the foot, and the fact that the joints are not held together properly, the bones of the feet shift. When this occurs, the muscles that attach to these bones must also shift, or twist, in order to attach to these bones. The strongest and most important muscles that attach to our foot bones come from our lower leg. So, as these muscles course down the leg and across the ankle, they must twist to maintain their proper attachments in the foot. This twisting of these muscles will cause shin splints, Achilles Tendonitis, generalized tendonitis, fatigue, muscle aches and pains, cramps, ankle sprains, and loss of muscular efficiency (reducing walking and running speed and endurance). The problems we see in the feet, which are due to over-pronation include bunions, heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, fallen and painful arches, hammertoes, metatarsalgia (ball of foot pain), and calluses.
Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms, medical history, and activities and examine your feet. Your provider may watch you walk or run. Check the motion of your feet when they strike the ground. Look at your athletic shoes to see if they show an abnormal pattern of wear.
Non Surgical Treatment
Over-Pronation can be treated conservatively (non-surgical treatments) with over-the-counter orthotics. These orthotics should be designed with appropriate arch support and medial rearfoot posting to prevent the over-pronation. Footwear should also be examined to ensure there is a proper fit. Footwear with a firm heel counter is often recommended for extra support and stability. Improper fitting footwear can lead to additional problems of the foot. If the problem persists, call your doctor to schedule an appointment.
Calcaneal “Slide” (Sliding Calcaneal Osteotomy) A wedge is cut into the heel bone (calcaneus) and a fixation device (screws, plate) is used to hold the bone in its new position. This is an aggressive option with a prolonged period of non-weightbearing, long recovery times and many potential complications. However, it can and has provided for successful patient outcomes.