Overpronation and Orthotics

I saw this article at Active.com (@active). I retweeted it (@2CFC). I posted it to the Second Chance FitCenter Facebook page.

But overpronation and overuse of orthotics are both big problems, so I thought I’d give it a post as well.

The article is Overpronation: Why it Happens and What You Should Do About It. It is full of great information, but it’s in slightly technical language. Let me give you a quick glossary so you can read the original for yourself, and then I’ll give you a summary. (If there’s anything you’d like explained in layman’s terms, let me know.) These definitions are given in the article itself — and those are the definitions I’m using — but they’re not given until almost half-way through.

foot pronation: turning downward or inward (weight on the inside of the foot)

ankle flexion: leg moving forward on top of the foot; or, same as the foot bending backward toward the leg — if you stand with your feet flat and move into a squat, one of the movements is ankle flexion

foot supination: turning upward or outward (weight on the outside of the foot)


Most of the time, orthotics to correct over-pronation are given after a simple gait analysis: someone with equipment and/or a trained eye watches you run, sees that you’re overpronating, and recommends special shoes or orthotics to stop the overpronation.

The problem with this method of diagnosis is that it does not look for or address the causes for the overpronation.

Often, the problem is a lack of flexibility in the ankle (flexion). Properly-functioning ankles will allow you to squat to a 90-degree bend in your knees without your feet turning out, your knees turning in, or your heels coming off the ground. (Watch a toddler examining something on the ground to see how our bodies are designed to squat.) Ankles that aren’t flexible are a very common problem.

If you are overpronating because of inflexible ankles and, through shoes or orthotics, you take away the body’s ability to compensate, the body finds another way to compensate. This is why pain pops up somewhere else.

Not all over-pronation is due to tight ankles, but a simple gait test will not give you the answers you are looking for.


One response to this post.

  1. Great post! Thanks for sharing!

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