As a group fitness instructor, you may have opportunities during classes to identify and correct musculoskeletal deviations in participants. Honing this skill will keep you at the forefront of the developing corrective-exercise trend and help participants reach their health and fitness goals in a positive way. Be sure to stay within your scope of practice.
Assessing Overpronation During Class
Pronation is a normal bodily function, in which the foot collapses inward toward the midline of the body. When people overpronate, the foot collapses too far inward. As the foot pronates, the leg also rotates inward toward the midline, affecting knee and hip alignment. When the leg rotates inward, the pelvis usually moves into an anteriorly rotated position.
Yoga Class. There are many standing poses in yoga. It is imperative that the feet and ankle complex is properly aligned in these poses. An easy way to help students become aware of the correct foot and ankle position is to teach them how to perform a simple hands-on assessment.
Instruct students, while standing, to bend forward to touch their toes and place the thumb of their left hand on the dimple on the inside of their left ankle (just forward of the ankle bone). Then ask them to place their forefinger on the dimple on the outside of the ankle bone. When both thumb and finger are in place, ask them to overpronate and flatten their feet. Coach them to feel the increase in pressure from the talus bone, which will have moved toward the thumb. Then ask them to oversupinate and shift their weight to the outside of the foot. They will now feel more talus bone pressure on the forefinger. Coach them to pronate and supinate until the pressure of the talus bone is even between the thumb and forefinger. Perform this technique on both ankles. Your students will now know how to get their feet and ankles into a neutral position for all standing poses.
Step/Cardio Class. The Achilles tendon attaches the calf muscles to the heel. When you look at the back of a person’s lower leg, you can determine whether he is overpronating by the alignment of his Achilles tendon. If he overpronates, the heel rolls inward toward the center of the body and the Achilles tendon appears to bow inward. When teaching, walk around and coach participants whose Achilles tendons are bowing in (overpronating) to raise their arches slightly to a more neutral position.
How to Correct Overpronation
Yoga Class. Use the assessment technique detailed above to make students more aware of the neutral foot and ankle position when beginning each pose. As students shift their body weight forward and transfer weight onto the foot, coach them to push down with their big toe. This will act as a braking mechanism, giving the arch of the foot more stability and preventing the foot and ankle from collapsing incorrectly.
Step/Cardio Class. Use creative visualization techniques to help participants be more aware of their feet and avoid overpronation. Have them imagine there is a raw egg or baby chick under the arch of their feet when they are moving. This imagery will remind them to keep the arches up so as not to “crush” the egg or chick. It will also help strengthen their arches and prevent them from overpronating.
For information on how to correct two other common musculoskeletal imbalances, plus some visual examples, see the full article in the February 2009 issue of IDEA Fitness Journal or read it online in the IDEA Library.
To purchase the DVDs Integrating Corrective Exercise and Personal Training and The Fundamentals of Corrective Exercise, presented by Justin Price, MA, visit the online IDEA Store.