You're an ankle sprain. You're not clumsy and you don't drag your feet when you walk, yet your ankles seem to turn when you least expect it, even when you're being careful. The problem probably has nothing to do with how light you are on your feet or how graceful you may be. You may, in fact, be a supinator.
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Definition of Supination
To understand the causes of supination, you must first understand its definition. Supination occurs when the foot rolls outward during a walking or running stride; this causes the leg to bow out and the heel to turn in toward the body. When a person supinates, the foot provides inadequate shock absorption for the leg. At the same time, muscles of the lower leg are torqued and become tight as they attempt to adapt to the unnatural position of the foot.
Causes of Supination
Heredity is the major cause of supination. The gene for high arches, whether inherited from an immediate family member or an ancestor, accounts for most cases. The Internet site, Our Health Network suggests that the position of the developing foot in utero may also be a cause. Other reasons for supination may be neuromuscular disorders, weak lower leg muscles and weak ligaments from earlier ankle sprains.
Symptoms Caused by Supination
The supinated foot cannot provide proper shock absorption for the lower leg; this causes shin splints, weakness of the ankle and knee and hip problems. Because the body is a chain, with each part linked directly to another, supination may also cause pain in areas of the body not directly associated with walking or running. Lower back pain may occur as a result of imbalance in hip muscles. This, in turn, causes poor posture, which then effects the neck, upper back, chest, abdominal and core muscles.
Simple Home Tests for Supination
If you suspect that your muscles have become unbalanced because of supination, you can easily test yourself at home. The wet foot test is one of the most common methods for determining foot type. Wet your feet thoroughly, then step onto a piece of brown packing paper or a very sturdy paper towel. Using a waterproof pen or pencil, trace the outline of your foot. If you foot print shows the front of the foot and back heel, but no arch, or just a thin ribbon of arch, you are probably a supinator. Also, check your shoes to see if they are worn down more on the outside than the inside.
Treatment for the Effects of Supination
Children younger than 5, whose muscles and bones are in early growth stages, may have their supination problems corrected by a physician. Treatment could include braces, physiotherapy and exercise. For adults, cushioning sports shoes and insoles for street shoes may be purchased at most athletic shoe stores. Chemists and pharmacies also carry insoles for street shoes. For more serious supination problems, a physician may prescribe special orthotics.
Warning About Delaying Treatment for Children
Because genetics are a major cause of foot supination, children do not outgrow the problem. If you recognise that your child is a supinator, do not wait to see if the problem will correct itself. If the child is treated early enough, the condition might be improved; waiting too long for treatment could mean that supination will become a permanent part of your child's life.
Only 5 to 10 per cent of the population experiences foot supination, but it is still an easy condition to recognise and treat. Consult your physician first for advice on orthotics and ask if you are a good candidate for cushioning sports shoes and insoles. Do not run or jog if you realise that you are a supinator until you have received treatment.
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