The normal walking or running cycle begins with your heel striking the ground. As you transfer your body weight onto the front part of your foot, the arch of your foot naturally flattens slightly. This is called pronation.
The tissues that help maintain the arch of your foot are exposed to tremendous stress and may eventually break down. The loss of the normal arch of your foot results in a condition called “overpronation” or flat feet. This condition most commonly develops over a long period of time from repetitive stress.
Overpronation by itself is not painful, but the problem often leads to secondary problems, which may be painful. Plantar fasciitis, foot pain, shin splints and problems in the knee, hip or lower back are all related to overpronation. Patients who carry excess weight are more likely to develop this condition.
To help support your foot, you should wear shoes with good arch supports consistently. In some cases, specially molded orthotics may be needed to help support your arch.
Here is a brief description of the treatments we may use to help manage your problem.
1. Therapy Modalities – We may apply electrotherapy modalities that produce light electrical pulses transmitted through electrodes placed over your specific sites of concern. These comfortable modalities work to decrease your pain, limit inflammation and ease muscle spasm. Hot or cold packs are often used in conjunction, to enhance the effect of these modalities. Another available option is therapeutic ultrasound. Ultrasound pushes sound vibrations into tissues. When these vibrations reach your deep tissues, heat develops and unwanted waste products are dispersed.
2. Myofascial Release – Overworked muscles often become tight and develop knots or “trigger points”. Chronic tightness produces inflammation and swelling that ultimately leads to the formation of “adhesions” between tissues. Your chiropractor will apply pressure with their hands, or with specialized tools, in order to release muscle tightness and soft-tissue adhesions. This will help to improve your circulation, relieve pain and restore flexibility.
3. Therapeutic Exercise – Muscle tightness or weakness causes discomfort and alters normal joint function, leading to additional problems. Your chiropractor will target tight or weak muscles with specific therapeutic stretching and strengthening to help increase tissue flexibility, build strength, and ease pain. Healthy, strong, and flexible muscles may help prevent re-injury.
4. Foot Evaluation – Fallen arches and faulty foot mechanics are common problems that can perpetuate your condition. Our office will carefully evaluate your feet and consider the need for a change in shoe style, arch supports or even custom orthotics.
Some Things That You Can Do To Help Yourself
Wear proper footwear – Improperly supported feet can affect the alignment of all of the structures above. To improve your overall comfort:
• Choose shoes with good arch support.
• Avoid going barefoot or wearing shoes that lack support (i.e. flip-flops). The following brands of sandals provide better than average arch support: Naot, Fit Flops, Orthoheels, Abeo, Vionic and Yellow box.
• Avoid high-heeled shoes or boots (keep heels to a maximum of 1½ inches, especially if you are going to be doing a lot of walking).
• “Cross-trainer” athletic shoes tend to provide the best all around support and shock absorption for daily activities.
• Patients with fallen arches should consider adding arch supports or orthotics.
• Repair or replace shoes with worn soles or heels.
Wear the right running shoes – Running shoes need to be replaced every 250 miles. There are three basic options:
• Motion Control Shoes – Designed for people with low or no arches, these shoes are for runners who strike the ground on the outer edge of their foot. Avoid overly stiff shoes as these decrease you perception of ground strike and lead to new injuries.
• Stability or Neutral Shoes – Designed for people with normal or average arches and running mechanics. The shoe contains some cushioning to absorb shock and prevent injuries and some rigidity to avoid pronation.
• Cushioned Shoes – Designed for people with high arched feet. Their footprint will typically leave a thin band along the foot’s edge. As they run weight is distributed from heel strike to the outer edge of the foot and small toes that bear the brunt of “lift off.” This shoe is more flexible and absorbs the shock created by the lack or rotation (under-pronation) created by their running style.
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