Pes planus is the medical term for flat feet. It comes from Latin, Pes = foot and Planus = plain, level ground. Very few people suffer from this condition, as a true flat foot is very rare. Less than 5% of the population has flat feet. The majority of the population, however, has fallen arches (an estimated 60-70% of the population) known in the medical profession as ?excess pronation? or over-pronation. Over-pronation means the foot and ankle tend to roll inwards and the arch collapses with weight-bearing. This is a quite a destructive position for the foot to function in and may cause a wide variety of foot, leg and lower back conditions.
For those not familiar with the term pronation, you might be familiar with terms related to shoes and pronation such as ?motion control?, ?stability,? and ?neutral cushioned.? The terms motion control and stability are typically associated with the word ?over-pronation? or a foot that is supposedly pronating too much and needs correction. According to the running shoe industry, ?over-pronation? is a biomechanical affliction evident when the foot and or ankle rolls inward past the vertical line created by your leg when standing.
People with overpronation may suffer from pain in the knees, hips, and low back. Overpronation itself does not necessarily cause any other symptoms but is a contributing factor of many foot conditions such as Plantar Facsiitis, Heel Spur Syndrome, Posterior Tibialis Tendon Rupture or Tendonitis, Hallux Valgus, Bunion Deformities, Metatarsalgia, Hallux Limitus or Hallux Rigidus, Hammer Toes, and Morton?s Neuroma.
Look at your soles of your footwear: Your sneaker/shoes will display heavy wear marks on the outside portion of the heel and the inside portion above the arch up to the top of the big toe on the sole. The "wet-foot" test is another assessment. Dip the bottom of your foot in water and step on to a piece of paper (brown paper bag works well). Look at the shape of your foot. If you have a lot of trouble creating an arch, you likely overpronate. An evaluation from a professional could verify your foot type.
Non Surgical Treatment
Pronation and supination are bio-mechanical problems, and are best treated and prevented with orthotic inserts. But before you run out to buy orthotics it makes sense to get the right advice on footwear, and the best advice I can give you, is to go and see a qualified podiatrist for a complete foot-strike and running gait analysis. They will be able to tell you if there are any concerns regarding the way your running gait is functioning. After your running gait has been analysed, have your podiatrist, or competent sports footwear sales person recommend a number of shoes that suit your requirements. Good quality footwear will go a long way in helping to prevent pronation and supination. And, if needed, invest in a pair of orthotic inserts to further prevent excessive pronation or supination.
Many of the prevention methods for overpronation-orthotics, for example-can be used interchangeably with treatment methods. If the overpronation is severe, you should seek medical attention from a podiatrist who can cast you for custom-made orthotics. Custom-made orthotics are more expensive, but they last longer and provide support, stability, and balance for the entire foot. You can also talk with a shoe specialist about running shoes that offer extra medial support and firm heel counters. Proper shoes can improve symptoms quickly and prevent them from recurring. Surgery can sometimes help cure and prevent this problem if you suffer from inherited or acquired pes planus deformity. Surgery typically involves stabilizing the bones to improve the foot?s support and function.