Have you recently decided to start running or going for long walks? Perhaps with the spread of Covid and courtesy of everyone locked at home, you finally have the free time that you wanted to start getting fit. Or maybe you have always been an active person. Regardless of your lifestyle, do you find that your feet hurt when you run or take long walks? Do you feel pain in your lower back?
Maybe your job requires you to stand on your feet all day or move too much and the pain in your legs and feet is now affecting your ability to concentrate on your job. So, if you are wondering, what is are different pronation issues and how to correct supination and over-pronation, then read along because we have the answers to all of your questions.
All these problems might just be related to your gait cycle. Your gait cycle is how your feet move and all the changes that take place in your feet from when your foot hits the ground until your toes kick off from the ground again – rolling into the next step.
Since our bodies vary greatly from person to person, it is safe to say that people are built differently. This carries with it the implication that how we move and use our bodies is also different. Some walk faster and harder, some slower but take longer strides. And some people just have to move fast.
There are a lot of reasons why people move differently and thus have different types of gait cycles, it could be:
– A person’s height
– Their weight
– The structure of their bones or how their bones developed
– An injury that affected the muscles, bones, or nerves
– Their habit of using certain postures
Phases of a Gait Cycle
There are two phases in a gait cycle.
Phase 1- During the first phase your foot lands on the ground. This is when the heel makes contact with the ground, the rest of the footfalls down. Ankles and knees bend, to absorb the impact from the ground and balance the upper body weight.
Phase 2- This is the phase where the impact from the ground will lift the thighs up, pulling the leg up and by extension lifting the foot while kicking off the ground from the toes. The foot swings forwards.
The other foot then follows this same pattern.
As mentioned, people move in different ways for multiple reasons. However, certain movements lead to foot pain and injuries or in some cases serious foot conditions that have long-term implications. Gait cycles that lead to such problems are referred to as Abnormal Gaits. If you don’t walk or run in the “correct pattern” but experience no pain or problems then you don’t necessarily have an abnormal gait. It’s only an issue when the movement leads to pain in the feet or parts of the body that relate to making movements.
What is Pronation?
In order to get the necessary information you first need to know what is pronation. Digging deeper into the gait cycle we get to Pronation. This refers to the way your feet roll inwards to distribute the impact from the ground. During pronation, the foot splays but doesn’t fully flatten across the ground and the ankle moves inwards. The arch of the foot is also involved in the distribution of the impact and affects movement.
What are Supination and Over-pronation?
There are three types of pronation:
Supination or Under-pronation:
The heel hits the ground at a sharp angle, there is very little pronation leading to most of the impact is absorbed by the outside of the foot, and arch collapse is very little. Due to the sharp angle, the push-off pressure is mainly on the smaller toes and a large part of the impact affects the ankle and lower region of the foot instead of moving upwards.
The heel hits the ground, pronation takes place, and the foot splays absorbing the impact evenly. The arch collapses an average amount. The ankles roll forwards, leading the absorbed shock up the leg and then the foot kicks off from the toes, with the pressure distributed across the toes.
The foot lands on the ground towards the outside of the heel, the outer side of the foot makes contact with the ground. This is followed by excessive pronation, the arches collapse excessively and ankles roll inwards at a sharp angle. This transfers the pressure to the inner edge of the foot instead of the balls of the feet and the kickoff is from the big toe and second toe.
How do I identify my pronation?
You can identify your pronation by performing the Wet Foot Test. All you need is a container or bucket (something you can dip your feet into, water, and a flat piece of cardboard.
Ist Step) Fill the counter with water. Just enough to make the lower region of your feet wet, 2-4 cm is enough.
2nd Step) Dip your feet in the container or bucket to get your feet wet.
3rd Step) Lift your feet and shake off the excess water.
4th Step) Step on the cardboard with your wet feet.
5th Step) Step off the cardboard and analyze your foot’s imprint.
If you have neutral pronation, the imprint left behind will show the distinct ridge from heel to the front of your foot, along with four to five toes.
In case, if you overpronate when moving, the imprint left behind will show most of the foot, the imprint will seem almost flat.
If you under-pronate or supinate, the imprint left behind will show overreliance on the outside of the foot. The arch of the foot will hardly be visible in the imprint.
How to correct supination and over-pronation
You might be wondering how to correct supination and over-pronation or if that’s even possible. You can get started on correcting the pronation in your feet by three methods:
Wear supportive Shoes
Now that you have identified your pronation is time to get started on changing a few things. Starting with your shoes. Do some research online for shoes that are designed to support your exact pronation. You will be surprised by how many companies manufacture shoes for all types of gait cycles and movements. Many brand websites also provide a list of models and versions of their shoes that are specific for supination or over-pronation.
If you visit the store, ask your helper if they are familiar with your kind of pronation and ask them for your problem related shoes. There is a very good chance they will be well aware of the needs of different feet. Many shoe stores educate their employees in major foot conditions as there are many customers with special podiatry needs.
Feet with supination or over-pronation often offer more stability, support, and cushioning to help ease the movement. Some shoes are designed specifically to help correct or adjust the movement of the feet.
Visit your nearest Podiatrist or Orthopedic for a consultation and ask them to help in correcting supination and over-pronation. They will be able to suggest an orthopedic sole insert for your shoes that will help with cushioning and providing support for your feet.
Some of these require your shoes to have a removable insole so make sure to check what kind of shoes you have and provide this information to the specialist so they can give you the right measure of assistance. It is also possible they might refer you to an appropriate form of Physiotherapy which will help strengthen your muscles and adjust your gait cycle.
Exercises to strengthen your muscles
There are exercises you can do that can help to adjust your pronation too.
First position demi plié:
If you have ever seen a Ballerina, you have seen this exercise. Stand and connect your heels together then move the feet apart, without moving your heels, as far as possible as long as you are comfortable. Now, slowly bend your knees as far as possible while still keeping your heels on the ground.
Rolling the feet:
Stand in front of a fall with your feet apart. Put the palm of your hands against the wall for support and then roll your body up from your heels. Make sure to roll your weight to the edge of the foot when rolling up. Now, roll your body down to the center of your foot.
Seated Calf Stretches:
Sit on a chair with your feet stretched in front of you. Flex your feet until you feel your calf muscle tighten. Now bend forward at your waist, reaching towards the toes. Hold the stretch for one to two seconds and then release. Your muscles should stretch but you shouldn’t be feeling pain during this exercise.
People move differently with their kind of gait cycle. Some kind of pronation can cause injuries or have painful long-term consequences. However, it’s not the end of the road as there are options to make changes to your gait. Medical specialists and shoe experts are also available, who can help you understand to correct supination and over-pronation in your feet.