Overpronation – An Over-Rated Condition

In my last blog post, I mentioned overpronation being a factor for causing heel pain.

The thing is, overpronation is a catch-all diagnosis that runners are given when they experience injuries due to poor running mechanics. Instead of focusing on fixing running technique, doctors/PTs/shoes-salesmen tell others that they’ve got the dreaded overpronation, like it’s some sort of disease that needs to be remedied with medication. Except, in this case, the remedy is either orthotics or special running shoes.

If you don’t know what overpronation is, it’s basically excessive inward rolling of the foot during walking or running. The ankles roll inward, and the arch of the foot flattens out under the weight of the rest of the body. It places additional strain on the feet, ankles, and knees because our way f running is inefficient.

Like I said before, the most common “solution” to this is either orthotics or special running shoes. It also conveniently makes doctors and shoe manufacturer’s much more money. Plus, it only ends up being a band-aid solution to the problem. The cause of overpronation is never addressed.

Imagine your grip-strength going wayside because of muscle weakness – holding or gripping objects becomes a much more difficult task, to the point of causing the ligaments in your hands to bear the load instead of the muscles bearing it. Wouldn’t the obvious solution here be to strengthen the weak muscles? Now, if that makes sense, why can’t we apply the same solution to overpronation.

What needs to be done here is to determine which muscle are responsible for preventing overpronation, and then to re-activate and strengthen these muscles.

Posterior Tibialis

Well, it’s seen that overpronation is excessive inward rolling of the ankle. Well,  there’s a muscle named the posterior tibialis that rolls the ankle outward, and resists inward rolling. Re-activating this muscle would be a very important first step to fixing overpronation. Here’s a video covering a basic activation exercise for the posterior tibialis.

I prefer performing this movement while standing. I just stand up straight, and prop-up onto the lateral (AKA outer) sides of my feet. After a few repetitions, I start to feel the burn in my ankles and medial (AKA inner) shins.

Glutes

Another thing that deserves attention is the excessive internal-rotation and adduction of our femurs. Basically, if you stand up straight, then let your knees collapse inward, that motion is what I’ve just described.

If you let your knees collapse inward (go ahead, stand up and try it), look at what happens to your ankles. Your feet while roll inward and overpronate. We’ve got to make sure that the muscles responsible for resisting internal-rotation and adduction are active and strengthened, too. These muscles happen to be our gluteus medius and minimus, amongst other muscles.

Here’s a video showing a very simple but very effective exercise to activate the glutes.

On a side-note, lordosis and anterior pelvic-tilt can also compound the problem of underactive glutes. If you’re interested at all, I’ve written up a piece on these issues.

Wrapping It Up

At this point, after the muscles have been re-activated and strengthened, the body should be taught how to apply what it’s been freshly taught. That is, we’ve gt to use our glutes and posterior tibialis when we really need to – while we’re running.

But before we jump into running, we’ve got to learn how to crawl. Well, learning how to stand will suffice. A good drill to practice what we’ve learned is to balance on one leg, and to maintain alignment of the leg whilst balancing. Basically, we don’t want our ankle to collapse inward and we don’t want our knee to collapse either. That will challenge the hell out of our posterior tibialis and glutes.

In the video above, the woman is balancing and maintaining perfect alignment of her leg by utilizing her glutes and posterior tibialis. There’s minimal collapsing here, as her muscles have been train to resist it.

Once someone is good at that, it’d be a good idea to move on up to walking. The same principle applies here – don’t let the ankles or knees collapse inward. Keep the knees in line with the feet, and distribute the force evenly across the sole of your foot as you walk. The arch will collapse just a bit, but it shouldn’t flatten out completely.

Once that becomes second nature, practicing this while running is the final step. Of course this all sounds easier said than done, but I was able to do it myself. Establishing the motor-control to do all of these things takes time, but is well worth the effort in the long run.

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6 Comments

  1. Photo Credits
    Ankle anatomy. Author: public domain. commons.wikimedia.org

  2. Mark,

    I really like your breakdown on this. I myself have postural issues and a snaping triceps/ulnar subluxation problem that I’m currently adressing. That’s how I found this site.

    You seem to be interested in the whole picture like me. I’m also a long time follower of Danny Roddy. That guy’s a real inspiration.

    I’m curious to hear your thoughts on biomechanical disadvantages due to structural imbalances. Meaningly teeth alignment and sphenoid positioning. I’m currently undergoing expansion and correction with bracers and advanced ligjtwire functionals. I read Dr. Weston E Prices’ work, alongside with the information found on http://jawpain-tmjtreatment.com/ (I’m in no way affiliated with Plato) which in turn sent me to read up on Neurocranial restructuring and Advanced biostructural correction.

    Are you familiar with these theories and if so, what’s your take on them? I myself firmly believe that an individual with so many things out of alignment needs to attack the problem from multiple angles (nutritional, structural and muscular).

    Just trying to provide some food for thought. I love it that you’re experimenting with different solutions to your problems and sharing your conclusions with the public. It’s extrodinary helpful.

    Thank you for your site.

    /Andreas from Sweden

    • Andreas,

      Thank you for commenting. What did you think of my write-up on subluxating ulnar nerve? As I’m writing you this, I was previously writing the draft of my e-book on subluxating ulnar nerve.

      Oh, and Danny Roddy is an awesome guy. I’m glad his latest edition of Hair Like A Fox came out. It’s honestly really good stuff.

      As for the biomechanical disadvantages due to structural imbalances, in terms of weight-lifting and exercise, a number of my posts address this issue. As for the teeth and the jaw, I have read parts of Dr. Price’s book, nutrition and physical degeneration. I must admit my knowledge is limited on the subject, however. I skimmed through the website you posted – boy, that’s a lot of information, but it seems intriguing. I’ve got a lot on my plate currently, but I will read all of the info on that site and digest it, in time.

      Thank you for sharing this.

      • Thank you for your quick reply, Mark!

        I’m going to read the rest of your posts and see what I can learn. My mind was set on correction through excercise until I could no longer work out. Thats’s when I started looking into other means of correction. I belive that both are needed. It’s hard to work through injuries.

        About your post about snapping triceps I totally agree with you that extreme soft tissue manipulation is the way to go. My problem has not been resolved yet. I don’t have the snaping any more but I still have a subluxating nerve and/or triceps. I got mine from a direct blow during practice and have had it for almost FIVE YEARS.

        The Dr.s in Sweden are Seriously retarded. Tennis elbow was their mantra. Thankfully I too found Cresseys post and managed to find a practitioner who goes medieval on my arm/elbow. He uses his knuckles to break up scar tissue, graston like tools and nerve gliding. I belive that I have a torn ligament (possibly osbournes).

        If a person developes the condition without any trauma. Soft tissue manipulation should be able to resolve issues, mainly since subluxatio by itself isn’t a problem without symptoms. Symptoms are the real problem. I think.

        /Andreas from Sweden

        • Oh, I forgot to add that the soft tissue manipulation is what solved the snapping.

          • Andreas,

            I feel like many doctors in each country are inept, but there’s nothing we can do about it. It makes sense that a busted Osbourne’s ligament would be the problem if it was a direct blow to the elbow that caused the issues.

            I do also believe that snapping without a cause is soft-tissue/fascia-related. It’s what helped me improve initially.

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