Biomechanics may sound like a fancy term, but it is simply a matter of how your body moves. The “bio” part is concerned with a living organism—like you!—and “mechanics” focuses on movement. One biomechanical process that you do approximately 10,000 times every day is pronation. It’s such a common action, but there’s a good chance you might not even realize you do it. Well, we are here to let you know what it is and how to know when yours is a little bit off.
What is Pronation?
This is an inwards-rolling motion that your foot performs every time you step. It starts with the heel, particularly the outside part, making contact with the ground. As the rest of your foot lowers, it should roll roughly fifteen percent inwards throughout the duration of the process, followed by an even push-off from your toes. We use the term “should” because not everyone pronates the same way.
The Different Types
Given the variability of inherent foot structure from person to person, it only makes sense that not everyone has an identical rolling motion when they step. Here are the different varieties that are experienced:
- Normal. This is simply the normal, fifteen percent rolling. With regards to efficiency, this type is the best, and it does not have any corresponding issues.
- Supination or underpronation. Whereas the ideal amount is a fifteen percent roll, supination is less than that and this means the forces that accompany impact are not distributed in an efficient manner. Instead, they are concentrated on the outside areas of the feet.
- Overpronation. When the rolling motion is excessive, we refer to it as overpronating and this gait abnormality can lead to various problems.
The Arch Style Factor
The manner in which you pronate has a lot to do with your specific arch style. Given that each foot has 26 bones, 33 joints, and over 100 tendons, ligaments, and muscles, there is obviously room for variance in everyone’s foot structure. One area where this is particularly evident is the foot arch.
There are three styles of foot arches:
- Normal or moderate. This is the most efficient of the arch types and leads to a natural rolling motion when you step.
- High. When foot arches are high, additional stress is placed on the outside of the feet and it leads to supination. You can identify high arches in your footprints when you observe full heel and ball of foot areas, but only a thin—if any at all—line connecting the two. Also, your shoes will likely show greater wear on the bottom, outside edges.
- Low. Flat feet typically result in overpronation. If you have this arch style, your footprint will be wide across the middle and your shoes will have excessive wear on the inside edges, especially in the front and back.
Problems That May Arise
Keeping in mind that a moderate pronation style is normal, there are issues that can be caused either by supination or overpronation. Common issues that arise with either of these biomechanical abnormalities include:
- Plantar fasciitis
- Stress fractures
- Achilles tendinitis
- Foot, ankle, knee, and back pain
The good news when it comes to pronation issues is that they are often treated with conservative, nonsurgical methods. Whether you supinate or overpronate, you may benefit from shoes that are engineered for your particular arch style. Footwear manufacturers, especially for athletic shoes, produce models that provide stability, control motion, and offer appropriate arch support.
In addition to switching your footwear, custom orthotics can be particularly helpful. Our office can create a pair that works for your unique feet. We will take measurements, analyze your gait, and use the data to craft medical devices that correct the gait abnormality behind your problems.
When you experience any pain as a result of pronation issues, Foot Specialists of Long Island can help. We will provide you with the effective care you need and put that pain behind you! Simply contact our Long Island, NY office by calling (516) 804-9038 or use our online form and request your appointment today!