Surgery or exercise for foot pronation

Updated June 13, 2017

Pronation is a good thing. You naturally pronate as your foot rolls inward and your foot arch flattens when standing. It is also a normal part of your gait cycle when running or walking, helping to provide shock absorption for your foot. Pronation becomes a problem when it is excessive, which is called overpronation. Overpronation is most common in runners and can lead to many problematic injuries such as shin splints, plantar fasciitis, bunions and Achilles tendinitis. There are many options when it comes to correcting overpronation, including exercise and surgery. .

Pain and Injury

Excess stress that is caused by overpronation can cause your foot and ankle to suffer injuries and pain. The repeated rotational forces due to overpronating put strain through your shin, knee, thigh and pelvis. It also affects the muscles, tendons and ligaments of your lower leg. This is the reason overpronation has to be corrected. If not treated properly, it can lead to chronic pain and more restrictions on your physical activities.

Overpronation can lead to injuries such as plantar fasciitis, ankle and Achilles tendinitis, heel and kneecap pain, shin splints and heel spurs. The pain can be severe and debilitating. There are many conservative treatments available in treating the injuries caused by overpronation. Icing, resting, corrective footwear, orthotics and use of anti-inflammatory medications are often enough to treat minor injuries due to this condition. However, you can also decide to incorporate an exercise regimen to help correct your pronation or undergo surgery if you are suffering from a chronic pain.


Consult your physician before you start to do exercises to treat foot pronation. Your physician will be able to administer a medical examination that will reveal any existing pronation, biomechanical problems and physical restrictions you may have.

With your doctor's approval, you should aim for exercises that will help stop overpronation by strengthening your ankle muscles. The use of shoe inserts or orthotics can help ove pronation and you should consider wearing them while doing your exercises.

Wear motion control shoes while doing your workout to help correct your pronation. Make sure that all the exercises are performed in a safe non-weight bearing position to avoid causing more damage to your ankles. Avoid high-impact activities like running, tennis and racquetball.

Exercises like yoga can be very beneficial for your ankles if done correctly. Other gentle exercises that can help correct overpronation are calf raise, quadriceps stretch, hamstring stretch, calf stretch, lying leg lift and bent and straight leg raises.


Individuals who have foot structural imbalance such as flat feet and high-arched feet are mostly affected by injuries associated with pronation. If you have a structural foot imbalance, you are particularly sensitive to stress fractures and tendinitis. When the pain is too severe and the symptoms of your injury fails to respond with more conservative treatments for at least nine months, then surgery might be an option to consider with your physician.

Ask your health care provider about possible options for surgical procedures that will permanently correct overpronation. Know all the risks and complications and important information such as recovery time and any physical therapy that may be needed.

A common procedure entails making a small incision near your ankle bone and the insertion of implants to stabilise abnormal excessive motion. Most patients prefer to have the least-invasive procedure available, which includes no bone cutting and no casting needed post-procedure. Consider procedures that are approved by the FDA and ones that are covered by your health insurance.

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About the Author

Rona Aquino began writing professionally in 2008. As an avid marathon runner and outdoor enthusiast, she writes on topics of running, fitness and outdoor recreation for various publications. Aquino holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications and English from the University of Maryland College Park.