What is overpronation of the foot?

Overpronation is a phrase that causes a lot of angst among podiatrists and running footwear shops mainly because it creates a great deal of confusion and argument. Pronation is actually a movement of the foot where the ankle rolls inwards and the arch of the foot collapses. This is a normal healthy movement that is essential for normal foot biomechanics and impact moderation. Overpronation is meant to be the word employed to describe when there is an excessive amount of this normal pronation. The first part of the controversy is just what is normal and what is abnormal and where may be the threshold of the split between normal pronation and overpronation. There are formidable opinions on every side of this debate and there doesn't seem to be any solution in the discussion in the near future.

The key reason why the topic creates a huge amount of debate is that overpronation continues to be thought to be a key factor in overuse injuries in athletes. Podiatric doctors frequently use foot orthoses to treat the condition and running shoe producers make running shoes to help athletes which have the condition. This means there is lots of vested interest in it. The problem arises is that the research evidence demonstrates that, yes, overpronation is definitely a risk factor for a running injury, but it is not a big risk factor. It can be further complex by a lot of athletes who have fairly severe overpronation and do not develop any problems and do not need foot orthoses or running shoes with the motion control design features. That will not help take care of the debate nor help clinicians make judgements re foot supports and for running footwear retailers on advice as to what needs to be the right running shoe. It really comes down to clinicians and running shoe retailer’s individual experience and expertise and making choices in the framework of what exactly is ideal for the individual runner.