The ankle and foot provide a base of support the body, providing a foundation for whole-body movement to occur. Dysfunctions of the ankle such as excessive pronation (see figure 1) has been reported to be related to overuse injuries such as: stress fractures, medial tibial stress syndrome, knee pain, anterior cruciate ligament injury and low back pain (Barwick, Smith, & Chuter, 2012). This is caused by the propagation of abnormal mechanics through the tibia, femur and into the hip. Specifically, excessive pronation of the ankle causes internal rotation of the tibia and femur of the lower leg, knee valgus (knees caving inwards) and altered muscular activation, alongside abnormal hip mechanics. These mechanical changes in the lower limb and pelvic regions will lead to added strain on the plantar fascia, affect propulsive phase mechanics and alter weight movement through the foot and result in propulsive instability. Excessive knee valgus can also lead to the patellar tracking laterally on the femur, resulting in conditions such as patellofemoral pain syndrome.
Figure 1: ankle pronation and supination
It is therefore essential that athletes are screened by a competent professional, and in a collaborative professional approach that integrates physiotherapist/sport therapist and strength and conditioning coach expertise to improve an athlete’s movement and reduce the likelihood of overuse injury. A strength and conditioning coach should be able to identify abnormal movement and prescribe corrective exercises to activate and lengthen targeted muscles and improve biomechanical alignment. If the athlete is already injured, a sport therapist or physiotherapist should be consulted to alleviate the progression of the injury and rehabilitate the athlete. Therefore, it is very important to recognise your professional limitations and seek advice from appropriately qualified coaches/practitioners such as accredited strength and conditioning coaches or sports therapists/physiotherapists.
Barwick, A., Smith, J., & Chuter, V. (2012). The relationship between foot motion and lumbopelvic–hip function: A review of the literature. The foot, 22(3), 224-231.