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When you take a step, your foot typically hits the ground heel first and rolls toward your toes, flattening the arch slightly. As you push off the ball of your foot, your arch springs back and does not touch the ground. That's how normal feet are supposed to work. Unfortunately, many feet aren't normal.
Overpronation occurs if your foot rolls too much toward the inside. This can cause arch strain and pain on the inside of the knee. Underpronation occurs if your foot rolls too much to the outside. Underpronation can lead to ankle sprains and stress fractures. You can relieve foot pain by compensating for these tendencies, but first you need to determine which way your feet roll.
One method for determining which kind of pronation you have is the watermark test: Put your feet into a bucket of water, then make footprints on a piece of dark paper.
- If your footprint looks like an oblong pancake with toes, you pronate excessively or may have flat feet. Try molded-leather arch supports, which can be purchased in many drug stores. And when shopping for athletic shoes, ask a sales clerk for styles with "control" features—soles designed to halt the rolling-in motion. If arch supports or sports shoes don't help, please contact our office for a custom-molded orthotics.
- If there's little or no connection in your footprint between the front part of the foot and the heel, you under-pronate or have a high arch. This means a lot of your weight is landing on the outside edge of your foot. Ask for "stability" athletic shoes, which are built with extra cushioning to remedy this problem. If you are prone to ankle sprains, wear high-top athletic shoes that cover the foot and ankle snugly to minimize damage from twists.