overpronationDid you know that overpronation can have negative effects on your body and feet? Have you ever been told by a podiatrist, sports coach, or friend that you do it? If so, it's important to be aware of this issue and take steps to address it.

What Is Overpronation?

All of us pronate when we walk, run, or move. It’s the natural movement of our feet when we go through a gait cycle--including a slight rolling in when we do so. People who overpronate roll their feet excessively inward causing them to flatten out more than they should. Feet that flatten out too much and too often can put a lot of strain on a person’s muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Ultimately, this can lead to many different foot and ankle problems as well as musculoskeletal issues.

Causes of Overpronation

The primary cause of overpronation is a low arch or flat foot. People with these foot types naturally roll their feet inward more than those with a higher arch. Other causes of overpronation are:

1. Overweight or obesity

2. Pregnancy

3. Certain medical conditions – eg. Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction and Charcot foot

4. Tight calf muscles – people with tight calf muscles are prevented from moving properly through the gait cycle when they move, causing overpronation.

5. Non-supportive footwear

Signs and Symptoms of Overpronation

Your podiatrist will be able to tell if you overpronate by examining your feet, watching you walk, and analyzing your gait with a device like GO4D. He’ll also check your shoes for signs of uneven shoe wear, particularly on the inner side of the heel and forefoot.

You can determine if you have a low arch or flat foot (a foot type with a higher likelihood of overpronation) by wetting the sole of your foot and stepping onto a blank sheet of paper. When you step off the paper you can compare it to the photo on the right.

heel pain from overpronationIn addition, you may develop foot and ankle conditions due to overpronation such as:

Problems in other parts of the body can also arise due to the constant inner rotation of the foot including:

  • Shin splints and stress fractures of the shins
  • Ankle pain
  • Hip pain
  • Lower back pain

Overpronation in Athletes

Athletes who overpronate are at higher risk for foot, ankle, and musculoskeletal problems due to repetitive motion and high impact.

Treatment of Overpronation in Seattle

Because many factors impact how you walk and run, your podiatrist will take these into consideration when putting together a treatment program for overpronation. While treating the overpronation alone will help reduce many of your symptoms, those conditions that are more advanced (eg. excessive bunions, hammertoes, and posterior tibial tendon dysfunction) will require a higher level of care including surgery.

Treatment modalities may include:

custom orthotics to treat overpronationOver-the-counter or Custom Orthotics

Depending on the level of pronation finds your podiatrist will either recommend over-the-counter inserts (less pronation) or custom orthotics (for great pronation). These devices will help tremendously in keeping your feet aligned when you move.

Supportive Footwear

Purchasing footwear that is stable and supportive is essential for keeping your feet properly aligned. It’s important to buy footwear that will accommodate an orthotic since it’s likely you’ll need one. I’d recommend downloading an eBook I’ve written in conjunction with Jason Brown of Sole Perfection Shoes called “How to Buy Shoes to Prevent Plantar Fasciitis and Other Foot Pain”. If you’re also a hiker, you’d also benefit from downloading my other eBook, “How to Buy Hiking Boots to Prevent Plantar Fasciitis.”

Reducing Tight Calf Muscles

It's critical for patients with tight calf muscles to participate in a program of daily stretching.  And this is not simply doing a calf stretch against a wall a couple of times a day, put prolonged stretching for 30 mins. Learn more by clicking on the link in this paragraph.

taping for overpronationTaping

Taping your feet before you get your orthotics can be a great way to keep your feet aligned. While your podiatrist will tape your feet in the office you can also do it at home with the help of Quicktape, an easy-to-use self-tape. In addition, you may want to use this tape to keep your feet more stable before you participate in sport

Exercises to Strengthen Your Arches

Strengthening your arches can also help with overpronation. Some exercises you can try are:

  • Picking up marbles with your toes
  • Towel curls – moving a towel towards you with your toes.


The medical conditions mentioned above that result from overpronation will require special bracing. Eg. Arizona brace

Overpronation doesn’t have to result in foot and body pain. Many of the treatments to stop overpronation and the resulting physical problems are essential in preventing overpronation in the first place.

Dr. Rion Berg
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A podiatrist in North Seattle treating families for over 40 years.