Overpronation is the exaggerated inward rolling of the foot and ankle, which can lead to a collapsed arch and flat feet. Many people overpronate and do not even realize it; one way to tell is to simply look at the foot and see how it is placed on the ground when standing in a neutral position. Another way is to wet the bottom of the foot and step on a piece of paper. If the entire imprint of the foot is shown, it means you overpronate.
Underpronation, or supination, is another common foot problem that is the opposite of overpronation. The feet will roll out to the side too much, and if performing the water and paper test, only the outline of the outside of the foot will be shown. Both of these foot issues place undue stress on areas of the feet and legs that are not meant to absorb impact. The good news is that overpronation and underpronation can be easily corrected.
One of the simplest ways to avoid overpronation is to purchase orthotics for the shoes. These do not need to be custom made, and many shoe stores sell relatively inexpensive orthotics that can be inserted into most pairs of shoes. They create a higher arch in the shoe, which in turn keeps the foot in a more neutral position. These insoles can be inserted into shoes for exercising or shoes for everyday wear.
Damage to the feet from overpronation can easily occur during exercising, as well as ankle injuries and shin splints. For that reason, it is important to purchase shoes that fit well and are supportive, and to replace them when they become worn. Keep in mind that any orthotic inserts in the shoes need to be replaced periodically as well.
In addition, some people find help for overpronation from stretching. Yoga is particularly helpful, as well as stretches concentrated on the feet to relax the muscles. Remain conscious of how you stand naturally, and try to consciously correct the inward rolling of the feet as much as possible. If the overpronation causes severe pain, it might be necessary to visit a podiatrist, though surgery is not usually necessary. Keep in mind that correcting the rolling of the feet as well as the walking gait can also improve posture, so it is important to correct this problem as much as possible if you do have it.