What Does Pronation Mean?
Pronation refers to the biomechanical function involving the joint of an extremity that shifts inward parallel to the body’s center of gravity, usually resulting in an uneven distribution of weight where surrounding connective tissue including ligaments, muscles, and tendons become susceptible to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Pronation can apply to the wrists/forearm region in which the palms face downward in a horizontal position, or it can also pertain to the slight pivoting of the foot toward the midline axis of the body between alternating steps to maintain firm contact with the ground while walking or running.
WorkplaceTesting Explains Pronation
Many people can incur MSD conditions via pronated positions (i.e., typing, walking) characteristic of physical constraints that limit or preclude one’s capacity to execute duties and tasks deemed as essential job demands. Flat feet or low arches cause overpronation to occur, where misalignment of the foot and corresponding ankle lessens the shock absorption necessary to withstand the load-bearing weight of the body during a natural stride. Biological and physiological variables can influence a disproportionate gait pattern including aging, arthritis, previous injury(s), tendinitis, and weight gain, which are concomitant factors of overpronating of the foot where the lack of cushion from the impact radiates to other areas of the body such as the hips, knees, legs, and spine.
In sedentary positions, frequent computer use is an essential job task involving pronation of the forearm and wrists where individuals are predisposed to fatigue and chronic pain, potentially leading to repetitive muscle injuries. Employers can introduce ergonomic measures designed to mitigate the detrimental consequences of sustained pronation via adjustable equipment (i.e., keyboard) that elevates the hand at an angle tailored for the individual’s comfort level. Because carpal tunnel syndrome is a common MSD condition, recognizing symptoms including joint inflexibility, inflammation, redness, and persistent flare-ups of aches or pain warrant immediate medical attention in finding a remedial solution.
Since pronation carries etiological implications for both the wrist/forearms and feet, a physician can help determine if an individual is a candidate for a specific MSD condition through a battery of diagnostic testing including a regular physical examination and X-ray imaging to assess connective tissue structures. Moreover, some individuals may qualify in receiving social security disability benefits contingent on the severity of pain that hinders the otherwise normal functioning of job requirements.