“Overpronation” is a term that gets bandied around a lot and really has no meaning. Pronation is a normal motion that occurs in the foot in which the ankle rolls in medially and the arch collapses. Overpronation is obviously when there is too much of that. The assumption of this is that too much is associated with problems.
- There is no real consensus as to what is normal and what is excessive (ie what is overpronated)
- The actual evidence linking overpronation to symptoms is either just not there or very weak
Too many people are pretending to be experts on it, making statements about it and wishing those statements were true when they really and quite clearly do not understand it. This leads to so many nonsensical claims being made for it and so many ‘one-size-fits-all’ approaches to it which is destined to fail when applied to all. There is so much nonsense, quackery, mythology and poor advice that gets written about it.
Basically, overpronation is only a problem and needs treating if the loads in the tissues are high enough to cause damage. In many feet that overpronate, the forces are not high and they will generally never need an intervention. Not all overpronation is the same.
Overpronation is caused by many different thinks and the treatment should be directed at the cause of the overpronation and not directed at the ‘one-size-fits-all’. For example:
- If it is caused by tight calf muscles then the only thing that will work is a heel raise and stretching of the calf muscles
- If it is caused by weak muscles, then the only thing that will work is strengthening those muscles.
- If it is caused by a bony alignment problem, then the only thing that will work are foot orthotics.
This is of course based on the assumption that the overpronation needs to be treated in a specific individual. In some it will and in some it won’t. The challenge is working out which one is which.
The evidence is clear, overpronation is a risk factor for injury and the evidence shows that this is statistically significant. However, that evidence also shows that it is a small risk factor, meaning that a lot of other factors are at play.
Please, when it comes to reading something on overpronation, please use your critical thinking skills and no not fall for the nonsense, quackery, mythology and poor advice.
Credit: some of the above is based on the writings of Craig Payne.