Overpronation occurs when the feet tend to roll inwards when running or walking. It may not sound like a dangerous condition, but a Sydney podiatrist warns that it can lead to permanent injuries over the course of time. “About 50 to 60 percent of people exhibit some degree of overpronation,” says Mark Lin, Principal Sports Podiatrist and Director at a podiatry clinic with Sydney CBD and Chatswood offices. “One in five people are severe overpronators, and regretfully, there are those who only seek medical attention and therapy when irreversible damage has been done.”
Injuries Related to Overpronation
While some of the problems caused by overpronation aren’t all that serious and are reversible, Mark Lin and his team cannot always offer a cure. “A good podiatrist wants to see the pain and discomfort that begins with foot issues fully resolved,” says Lin, “for more permanent conditions, we can always still improve it, prevent it from getting worse, offer pain relief and most important recovery of quality of life.”
Time is of the essence, says Lin, “pronation is not a problem, but it becomes a problem when the surrounding structures like muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and joints are forced to compensate, that leads to excessive stress on the feet, ankles, lower limbs, knees, hips, and back. When the tissues are under strain that they weren’t designed to deal with, degenerative injuries would occur over time and can have far-reaching consequences, such as bunions, hammer toes, heel spurs, and toe, ankle and midfoot arthritis. This can happen to a non-active person, but it’s especially true in those who make high demands on their feet, particularly runners.”
According to The Footwork Clinic, a tendency towards bunions, sprains, shin splints, knee problems, and lower back pain are among the warning signs, but people can spot overpronation before discomfort strikes. “One can look for uneven wear towards the inside of shoe soles. Most people who know a little about overpronation equate it with flat feet, and people with flat feet are certainly prone to overpronation, but it’s not quite the same thing. The only way to know for sure is to have it checked out.”
Prevention is the Proactive Option
While Mark Lin says that a little self-diagnosis can go a long way, nothing beats a proper gait analysis performed by a podiatrist. “Overpronation is just one of the gait related problems treated at The Footwork Clinic. It is advisable for people to undergo a functional foot health assessment designed to detect the underlying problem of your feet. Ideally, this should begin when they are children – but if this was not done during their formative years, then a later start is better than no assessment at all. Absence of pain doesn’t mean there isn’t trouble brewing.”
He also notes that his clinic provides its clients with the opportunity to see the reasoning behind any diagnosis. “It’s difficult for someone to believe that they have lower limb issues when they have no pain and all they have is a podiatrist’s word for it. The Footwork Clinic uses functional assessment and diagnostic tools to show exact measurements, allowing its clients to understand any diagnosis and to track their progress in correcting foot-related issues,” he explains.
Treatment for Overpronation
Treating overpronation before it can cause permanent damage – or preventing damage from going further is a process that can involve a variety of therapies. “Some people swear by custom orthotics. The Footwork Clinic is equipped to make them and believes that they are helpful, but they are still artificial supports, they only work by bracing the foot. The aim should be to strengthen the lower limbs and feet so that one can wear any footwear they like, or even go barefoot,” says Lin, “we want to restore the natural foot function and help the feet to work on it’s own”. “We build stronger and healthier active feet instead of just patching the leaks in the house.”
He explains that therapy is “teamwork” between the therapist and the patient. Specific functional hands-on adjustment to create changes in the body, plus exercises that strengthen the muscles which support the feet and ankles are among the ways to permanently improve the foot function and reduce effect of overpronation. While working on the real cause of aches and pains, the therapist can also work to address any uncomfortable symptoms that have shown up as a result of poor gait. These could range from bunions to hammer toes, inflamed tendons, shin splints, backache, and more.
“A person’s feet are their freedom to move; to run; to walk’ and to play,” says Lin who chose podiatry as a profession after suffering sports injuries that could be traced back to foot-related problems. “That’s why the Footwork Clinic exists and that’s why its therapists find fulfilment in their work.”
The Footwork Clinic, situated in Chatswood on Sydney’s North Shore and Sydney CBD, is there to help should you have an injury or condition that you think would benefit from heat or ice treatment. They offer advanced manual therapies and a holistic and corrective care approach, with a proven track record of success in resolving acute and chronic conditions, and they will gladly offer advice to get you on the road to recovery as soon as possible.
For further information, visit the The Footwork Clinic – Leading Sports, Podiatry, Foot And Lower Limb Corrective Services to book online, or call Mark Lin or his friendly team on +61 2 9131 6891.
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The information contained in this guide is provided in good faith and is not intended to be nor is it to be used as a substitute for any sort of professional, medical or podiatric advice. An accurate diagnosis can only be made following personal consultation with a podiatrist. Any users should always seek the advice of their podiatrist, or other qualified healthcare providers before commencing any treatment.
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