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Foot Overpronation and 10 problems it may cause

Your feet form the foundation of the body.  It is from these 52 bones, 66 joints, 214 ligaments and 38 muscles that we are able to propel ourselves through our daily lives.

Further, the average person takes 8,000 to 10,000 steps per day.   It is no wonder that when the foot begins to hurt, we take notice and want it resolved quickly.

In the work and sports world, the foot takes the brunt of the everyday stresses on the body.  Think about the role the foot plays in sports like basketball, soccer, and squash or in jobs such as construction, teaching and letter delivery, and it is easy to understand how acute injuries occur.  But, if we take golf as another example, one might be surprised that foot pain is as debilitating to a golf game as golfer’s elbow or a rotator cuff injury.  If you can’t walk to the 1st hole, it’s tough to get the ball, let alone oneself, down the fairway.

People often think that it is normal to have sore feet.  By the end of this post we hope that you have a better understanding of some common foot ailments that are the result of faulty foot mechanics.

The Purpose of the Foot – Foot Mechanics 101

The foot offers the body two very important functions.  The first is stability.  It provides a solid base of support (keeps us up against gravity) and a rigid lever for moving the body forward.  The second function is mobility.  This allows for shock absorption, maximum contact with the ground with uneven terrain and allows unusual forces in the hips and knees to be absorbed.

The anatomy of a normal foot allows for both to occur at the same time.  Approximately 30% of the population have a normal foot.

The remainder of people either overpronate (95% of abnormal feet) or oversupinate (5% of abnormal feet).  The important thing to know is that all feet pronate and supinate, but abnormal feet do one of these things too much or at the wrong time.

When the foot overpronates or oversupinates, several foot ailments can develop.

A foot that overpronates stretches and shortens structures in the foot and contributes to:

  • 1. plantar fasciitis (heel spurs)
  • 2. hallux valgus (bunions)
  • 3. achilles tendonitis
  • 4. corns, calluses and hammer toes
  • 5. navicular apophysitis
  • 6. shin splints
  • 7. fractures in the 1st and 2nd toes
  • 8. medial knee pain and patellofemoral dysfunction (improper tracking of the knee cap)
  • 9. hip pain
  • 10. low back pain.

Todays Lesson: Overpronation

It is the most common abnormality found in the foot, and for this reason, is the most studied.

The term that most people attribute to overpronation is “flat feet.”  Pronation is the rolling in of the foot and the collapse of the arch.  Every person pronates to some extent and this is a necessary moment in the normal walking cycle as it allows the forefoot to make complete contact with the ground.  Overpronation is when a person pronates too much and for too long.  This places excess stress on the tendons and ligaments in the foot and ankle.flatfoot-fade

A foot that overpronates acts like a loose bag of bones during the walking cycle.  This makes this type of foot very flexible but inefficient.  The foot has to work much harder to propel the body, fatiguing easily and placing mechanical stresses on the lower body.  We like to use the analogy of digging a hole in the dirt.  Overpronating feet are like using a broom to dig the hole.  It won’t break down quickly, but you will be digging for a very long time, or until eventually wear and tear will take effect.  Wouldn’t you rather have a shovel to work with.  This is in essence what an orthotic can do for your feet.  This is why orthotics have become an evidence based treatment for so many foot ailments, as they can effectively manage overpronation.

In this authors opinion, not all “flat feet” need to be treated, but they should all be evaluated.

Posted by Grant Fedoruk

This information is not meant to replace the advice or treatment of a qualified physician or physiotherapist.  It is meant for information only.  Please seek an assessment and discuss your treatment options with your caregiver prior to making a decision about your treatment path.


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28 comments on “Foot Overpronation and 10 problems it may cause”

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  • Victor lopez says:

    I’ve been lLimping for about a year and a half now due to I got run over by a forklift on both feet And now I am my hip hurts from Limping , trying to figure it out

  • Lucie says:


    I was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis a few years ago, I have stared studying sports massage and after doing some research I started to realise that my foot and knee pain could be treated by massage. Today we did some work on soft tissue release and trigger points. This is the first time I cannot feel pain in my foot. My tibialis posterior and flexor digitorum were worked on both on my leg and on the sole of my foot. It’s done something magical. Maybe worth a try on other cases?

  • Hayley says:

    I have been having severe aching in my hips and legs for some time now. I have flat feet. No orthotics ($$$). Anyway, my hips have gotten so bad that the discomfort is keeping me up at night. I haven’t slept for three days. It feels like my muscles in my hips and legs are constantly being stretched. I can’t get comfortable. Does anyone know what may be causing this?

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