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April 13, 2009 12:08 AM   Subscribe

How can I fix my over-pronation?

Someone pointed out to me today that my ankles sag inwards. After looking this up on the internet, looks like I over pronate, and will suffer horrible crippling deformaties in my legs and back as a result, or something.

How do I fix this? If I consciously try to walk more evenly on my feet, with more weight on the outward edge, will they get better? I already do yoga and stretch, but I'm probably not focusing on my legs/feet the way I ought to.

I'm not sure that I can afford to buy orthotics at the moment--are they really the only way to deal with this?

Also, I've seen the exercises in this thread . Frankly, it makes me nervous. Do I have to do all that to fix this?
posted by stray to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I went to a specialty shoe store, had my walk analyzed and bought some regular-priced running shoes that have extra support in the heel/ankle: Adidas "Supernova Control". However, my pronation isn't that bad, and is only in one foot.

Physiotherapists can also help with this sort of thing, but it depends if you can afford to see one.
posted by sinderile at 12:36 AM on April 13, 2009

I noticed I had a problem with pronation during high school, I think as a result of running track, cross country, and training for a mini marathon. When I stopped running so much, my foot problems (they would sometimes ache terribly and swell up) went away. I recently went on a backpacking trip for a week, and sure enough with the extra weight of the backpack the problems came back.

But! I have been practicing yoga my whole life and have never felt problems with my feet as a result. So I imagine that unless you're doing the stupid things I've done (excessive running, weight-bearing) you'll probably be fine, at least for a while.

I'm seconding what sinderile said about getting your feet analyzed at a specialty running store. I did, and the shoes I got allowed my long distance running to be relatively pain-free. I remember that when I first started wearing them I got shin splints though, probably just as a result of using new muscles to run. Eventually you might want to look into orthotics, but in the mean time I wouldn't worry too much.

Regardless, good luck and happy feet!
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 1:23 AM on April 13, 2009

I walked around barefoot for a summer and pretty much cured my overpronation. A lot of gait/pronation problems are actually due to footwear--shoes, especially the "control/support" type, tend to provide too much support over our feet and can ruin our natural gait. The small stabilizing muscles of our feet, ankles, and legs weaken and our walking and running gets messed up as a result.

I would see if you can work walking around barefoot or in socks into your routine as much as possible. If not, the foot/ankle strengthening exercises in the other thread really will help.
posted by schroedinger at 3:57 AM on April 13, 2009

I was diagnosed with pronation pretty young, and I got orthotics. To be honest I think they were more of a hindrance than anything else. When I stopped wearing them, it forced me to build up the muscles in my ankles and now I can walk barefoot or in flip flops for long distances without pain.

I am not a runner, a doctor, or an expert. YMMV.
posted by miss tea at 4:19 AM on April 13, 2009

I had a significant overpronation until I was in my early 30s. I would wear out my shoe heels at a 45 degree angle. I tried a lot of different things, some of which provided modest relief but nothing solved the problem. A few years of regular yoga later, which has also helped me heal somewhat from a lot of repetitive sports injuries, and my normal, natural gait is much more even. My heels probably wear at a 10 degree angle now.
posted by mrmojoflying at 4:27 AM on April 13, 2009

I overpronate really badly and have my entire life, so does my dad and my grandmother. No shoe has ever fixed it. Special shoes and orthotics only help while you're wearing them and tend not to correct jack when it comes to permanent changes in how you stand or walk. Shoes with so much arch support to "correct" it just make the pain much worse for me. I have bad knees, and will probably have a bad back when I get older as a result (my father and grandmother do). The most comfortable shoes for me are ones with basically no sole at all. The thinner the sole, the better they feel.
posted by fructose at 6:45 AM on April 13, 2009

My experience matches schroedinger's - I had knee pain when running for many years, due to overpronation, but when I switched to barefoot-style shoes (Nike Frees for a couple of years, then went whole-hog with the Vibram Fivefingers) the knee pain went away entirely.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:50 AM on April 13, 2009

I have bad pronation too, and do a lot of running. It got to the point where I was wearing Brooks "the beast" shoes and still getting knee pain. I went to a knee doctor and he told me to get Superfeet inserts (green), which I now wear with Sauconys. They take some getting used to , as they jack up your arches fairly high, but I haven't had the knee pain since about three weeks into wearing them. Good luck!
posted by Kafkaesque at 9:07 AM on April 13, 2009

I wear orthotics and brooke's beasts, but one of these exercises helped insanely well:
(the scorpion)

I do three extra ones, too:

(I call this the reverse scorpion. There's probably another name.)
1) Lie on your back, straight legs.
2) Swing a leg over your other leg and tap the ground with your around knee level
3) Switch legs mid-air and tap the other side.

Eventually you'll be tapping each side around hip level.

Finally, spiderman walk and glute bridges--google them.

I do one more stretch where I'm squatting with one leg and the other leg is straight and to the side, then I switch back and forth. During the switch I pass through what looks like a squat, without changing where my feet are.

I cannot emphasize enough how helpful this has been, and I've tried everything under the sun. You'll notice that these exercises dynamically stretch and engage your hip flexors, IT band, quads, glutes, hip adductors, and more.

You may have collapsing arches, but 70% of the problem is in your legs and core. I don't stand with a wide, pronated stance anymore. I stand straight, legs and shoulder width, feet pointed forward--and I don't have to think about it or remind myself. (Again, I still have to wear orthotics or I eventually get foot pain. But when I'm standing bare foot, I have noticeable arches now, even if they're pretty weak. YMMV) I hope this works for you!
posted by zeek321 at 9:26 AM on April 13, 2009 [4 favorites]

If you have health insurance, they may cover orthotics. Mine does.
posted by justcorbly at 1:09 PM on April 13, 2009

FSA's often apply to orthotics too. I'm un-nthing most of the comments above: my orthotics have helped me greatly and ended my chronic foot and knee pains.
posted by chairface at 9:48 PM on April 21, 2009

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