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Over Pronation and Supination – Not as well understood as the “professionals” want you to believe.

Posted on 6/7/2014 to Basic Body Mechanics & Posture
Over Pronation and Supination – Not as well understood as the “professionals” want you to believe.

Posture Dynamics has now been in business for 19 years, and really all we do with our insole technology is change foot mechanics. We don't support your feet, and we don't cushion your feet. We don't hold your arches up. Instead we teach your muscles to hold your arches up based on you having muscles that can do it. Not everyone can use their muscles to make an arch, so some, albeit not many, do not benefit from our insoles.

Over the last decade and a half we have spoken to thousands of people, most of whom have seen one or several podiatrists for foot and ankle pain, even knee pain, and we are amazed that podiatrists are still telling people they have fallen arches and need arch support.

I think podiatrists deep down know better, just like our politicians knew you weren't going to keep your insurance plan or your doctor under the new health care law, but it served their purpose.

Since most custom orthotics are still based on arch supports, would you spend the $300-500 if you knew arch supports were not the answer to your problems? Far too many people end up throwing their custom orthotics under the bed because they simply can't stand wearing them.

Fact is, most people do not need and should not wear arch supports.

Here are a couple of basic things about your arches and what they do. You have probably heard about pronation and specifically over pronation. Pronation means your arches drop as your foot and ankle rolls inward.

Over eighty percent of us over pronate, Based on over 10 years of experience dealing with over 100,000 people directly or indirectly through our medical providers, we believe over 60% of people who structurally over pronate actually try to subconsciously prevent it by trying to supinate their feet. More about that below.

But why do I say "structurally over pronate"? I say so because for most, over pronation has nothing to do with fallen arches. It has everything to do with the fact that when your hips, knees, ankles and feet are properly aligned, any lay person can observe and feel that the inside of your feet are not on the ground and weight bearing. Specifically, the first metatarsal head which is the base of the big toe joint, is not on the ground and supporting your weight as it should. So, to start with, you don't have an arch, you have a bridge to your big toe. It is not too hard to imaging that something is going to happen to the height of that bridge as you force the far side of it to the ground without changing the shape of it. Just like your arch, it is going to drop, but the structure of the bridge itself has not changed. There is not a fallen arch, there is just an unsupported far side of the arch, and that's why it looks like your arch is dropping while your ankle is rolling inward.

Fallen arches is a myth that has been promoted by podiatrists for a century or more, and it is one of the most lucrative myths most people are buying into—worth over a billion dollars annually. elevated first metatrsal

If you look at your foot straight from the front, when your legs are properly aligned, your first metatarsal head would be slightly elevated. Your skin may be touching your floor, but the bone is not weight bearing. The reason has been documented by a British scholar of anthropology who was studying human and chimpanzee foot bones to document how human feet are different from the monkey and how they might have developed if it is true that we once crawled on all fours and hung from trees, and one day decided to stand up on two to start chasing after things. I really don't believe that theory, but it has no bearing on our feet. Dr. Sewell studied over one thousand samples of human feet, and he found something interesting.

foot model Astragalus
The two bones you see above right are the ankle bone seen from the front of the ankle. The areas marked with pink corresponds to the pink area of the foot model on the left. The human sample makes the big toe less mobile and suitable for pushing off with force when you walk, and the one on the right offers more mobility to the big toe so it can be used to grip, like monkeys do. The human specimen has a streep angle and the chimpanzee a shallow angle.

talus head rotationover pronation Dr. Sewell also discovered there could be a marked change in angle or rotation between human samples, and this is the reason why some people have a significantly elevated first metatarsal (shallower angle) and others do not (steeper angle). The higher the elevation of the first metatarsal, the longer the far side of the bridge has to travel to reach the ground and the more significant is the appearance of a fallen arch.

This is the reason we separate between pronation and structural pronation. The first is behavior and the second is a structural relationship setting up a cause and effect.

Behavior causes some people to follow their structure while most people try to compensate for it. Supination is the ankles having a tendency to roll out when you stand and walk or run. This is an issue that seems to deeply confuse both podiatrists and staff working at the thousands of running stores throughout the country.

They know that people who supinate roll their ankles easily, and often injure badly. They know supinators often have a hard, jarring heel strike and often ask for cushioned shoes to try to alleviate all the pressure on the lesser metatarsals which are not intended to bear as much weight as happens if you are walking on the outside of your feet.

It confuses them because there is usually no structural reason for this problem. It is a neuromuscular problem. It is a subconscious behavior, a response to the structural over pronation you just read about above. So, as we like to say, people who supinate are people who structurally over pronate in disguise.

So why do 60% of people who structurally over pronate subconsciously try to correct it. The answer is proprioception. Proprioception is your subconscious awareness of your body, arms, legs, etc. , their position and movement in space. Since over pronation will make your ankles, knees, hips move incorrectly and distort your posture, it seems a great number of people's brains try to correct the motion by changing their muscle activation patterns—when muscles are turned on and off based on what you are doing. This is probably done in an attempt to protect your body, but because your brain gets all the wrong signals from your feet which are not properly on the ground, the brain fails miserably at this task. The brain ends up over doing it, and you end up unstable, wobbling your way through the day like you were wearing ice skates – your muscles turned on hard. Hello muscle and joint pain and fatigue not to mention severely reduced athletic performance.

No amount of arch support will take care of this situation because the problem is the lack of weight bearing at the base of the big toe. If you are already supinating, you will typically continue to do so with an arch support. If you are over pronating, i.e. you are among the 30-40% of people who are so relaxed they follow their structural over pronation, arch supports do not offer help either because as soon as your heels lift off the ground, your feet straddle the arch support and tilt inward as your first metatarsals and big toes go searching for the ground.

The solution is to change your brain's perception of the ground, and therefore change your muscle activation patterns to stabilize your feet which in turn will align your posture and body mechanics and allow you to relax, even while standing.

That's what our insoles do. You can try them for 90 days risk free.