Feet are supposed to roll inward as a part of every step you take. This helps them to mold to the various terrain that they step on (sand, rocks, various obstacles) without injury. This is called pronation. But, when your feet roll inward excessively, problems often arise. Excessive inward rolling of the feet and ankles is called over-pronation. Sometimes, people who over-pronate are told they have ?flat feet?. The term ?flat feet? can be misleading. When standing, body weight causes the arch of most feet to flatten out somewhat. This does not mean they become flat like pancakes (though some feet do). Instead, the arch shape gets longer and flatter and the arch height gets lower.
Acquired "Flat Feet" this develops over a period of time rather than at birth (unlike Congenital "Flat Feet"). In children, many different factors may contribute to the development of this condition such as the type of shoes that a child wears, a child's sitting or sleeping positions or it may occur as some type of compensation for other abnormalities located further up the leg. Compensation may occur due to the rupture (tearing) of ligaments or tendons in the foot. One common reason for this condition is that the foot is compensating for a tight Achilles Tendon. If this tendon is tight it may cause the foot to point downward away from the body. This gives the body the perception that the affected leg is longer in length and the body attempts to compensate for the perceived additional length by flattening out the foot arch in an attempt to provide balance and stability.
If you overpronate, your symptoms may include discomfort in the arch and sole of foot, your foot may appear to turn outward at the ankle, your shoes wear down faster on the medial (inner) side of your shoes. Pain in ankle, shins, knees, or hips, especially when walking or running are classic symptoms of overpronation. Overpronation can lead to additional problems with your feet, ankles, and knees. Runners in particular find that overpronation can lead to shin splints, tarsal tunnel syndrome, plantar fasciitis, compartment syndrome, achilles tendonitis, bunions or hallux valgus, patello-femoral pain syndrome, heel spurs, metatarsalgia.
If you cannot afford to get a proper gait analysis completed, having someone observe you on a treadmill from behind will give you an idea if you are an overpronator. It is possible to tell without observing directly whether you are likely to be an overpronator by looking at your foot arches. Check your foot arch height by standing in water and then on a wet floor or piece of paper which will show your footprint. If your footprints show little to no narrowing in the middle, then you have flat feet or fallen arches. This makes it highly likely that you will overpronate to some degree when running. If you have low or fallen arches, you should get your gait checked to see how much you overpronate, and whether you need to take steps to reduce the level to which you overpronate. Another good test is to have a look at the wear pattern on an old pair of trainers. Overpronators will wear out the outside of the heel and the inside of the toe more quickly than other parts of the shoe. If the wear is quite even, you are likely to have a neutral running gait. Wear primarily down the outside edge means that you are a supinator. When you replace your running shoes you may benefit from shoes for overpronation. Motion control or stability running shoes are usually the best bet to deal with overpronation.
Non Surgical Treatment
Adequate footwear can often help with conditions related to flat feet and high arches. Certified Pedorthists recommend selecting shoes featuring heel counters that make the heel of the shoe stronger to help resist or reduce excessive rearfoot motions. The heel counter is the hard piece in the back of the shoe that controls the foot?s motion from side-to-side. You can quickly test the effectiveness of a shoe?s heel counter by placing the shoe in the palm of your hand and putting your thumb in the mid-portion of the heel, trying to bend the back of the shoe. A heel counter that does not bend very much will provide superior motion control. Appropriate midsole density, the firmer the density, the more it will resist motion (important for a foot that overpronates or is pes planus), and the softer the density, the more it will shock absorb (important for a cavus foot with poor shock absorption) Wide base of support through the midfoot, to provide more support under a foot that is overpronated or the middle of the foot is collapsed inward.
Wear supportive shoes. If we're talking runners you're going to fall in the camp of needing 'motion control' shoes or shoes built for 'moderate' or 'severe' pronators. There are many good brands of shoes out there. Don't just wear these running, the more often the better. Make slow changes. Sudden changes in your training will aggravate your feet more than typical. Make sure you slowly increase your running/walking distance, speed and even how often you go per week. Strengthen your feet. As part of your running/walking warm up or just as part of a nightly routine try a few simple exercises to strengthen your feet, start with just ten of each and slowly add more sets and intensity. Stand facing a mirror and practice raising your arch higher off the ground without lifting your toes. Sit with a towel under your feet, scrunch your toes and try to pull the towel in under your feet. Sitting again with feet on the ground lift your heels as high as you can, then raise and lower on to toe tips.