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What is pronation and how does it matter?

Search for the term ‘pronation’, and it’s easy to get confused. You can overdo it, and you can underdo it. You can even stretch your arms forward. Does pronation bring barefoot tribes to mind and Ultra athletes Or flat feet and fallen arches? Is it good or bad? In this article, you’ll learn what pronation is and what it means for your running.

What is Pronation?

Pronation is a physical term that describes the movement of the foot. The opposite movement is known as supination.(1,2)

Pronation refers to the rolling motion of the foot at the ankle so that weight is shifted toward the inner edge of the foot (toward the big toe). Imagine pushing your ankles inward.

Supination occurs when the foot rolls in the opposite direction, shifting weight to the outer edge of the foot (toward the little toe). Imagine pushing your ankles outward.

To better understand the movement, try standing on one leg and shifting your weight from left to right. As your foot rolls to maintain balance, it pronates And supinates

Although pronation has negative connotations, a certain range of pronation during walking and running is normal and healthy. It is only insufficient or excessive amounts that cause problems with our feet. Very small (Under the– pronation (or too much (finished-pronation) is detrimental to joint health and running performance.

Like many things, pronation is best in moderation. As part of natural running style, shock absorption and improved running performance is called pronation. neutral pronunciation

Neutral pronunciation

In neutral pronation, our feet are rotated slightly inward (supinated). Ground connection – That is, the outer edge of the foot hits the ground first.

As our body weight moves forward over the foot, the foot rotates downward and outward so that the entire foot remains in contact with the ground. This is pronation. At this point in mid-stance, the foot is now in a neutral position – neither open nor supinated and flat on the ground.

This movement is a natural part of walking from a supinated position at ground contact to a neutral position at mid-stance. This is called neutral pronation – essential for effective shock absorption during running.

Excessive use

For some, the foot rotates outward too much. This is over-degradation, and it is more common than under-use. Excessive or Excessive Transfers weight to the inner edge of the foot, including the big toe and second toe. As the foot rotates outward under extreme tension, the arch of the foot flattens. Over time, this can cause or exacerbate flat feet. This affects weight transfer and balance during running and power transfer during toe-off.

Overpronation can cause injury by increasing the risk of heel spurs (bony structures that grow from the heel on the bottom of your foot) and Plantar fasciitis (pain and inflammation in the band running from the heel to the forefoot). A flatter foot is less rigid, putting more stress on other joints and muscles, including the tibialis anterior. Tightness of this muscle can lead to shin splints. Excessive stress also alters the rotation of the tibia (shin bone), which can cause Different types of knee injuries through overloading.

Underpronation (supination)

A smaller group of people are ‘underpronators’, also known as ‘supinators’. In other words, their feet are rotated inward, putting pressure on the outside (little toe) edge of the foot. Runners who run less vigorously usually have a pronounced high arch.

The problem with underpronation is that forces are not distributed across the entire foot through ground contact as with neutral pronation. Instead, ground contact forces are absorbed by smaller and weaker structures in the foot, such as the little toe. This type of running gait puts extra stress on the plantar fascia, tibia and knee, increasing the risk of this condition. Common running injuries

How do I know if I overpronate or underpronate (supinate)?

Now to the main question. What is my foot type? Am I a Pronator or a Sprinter? There are two simple ways to help determine whether you are overweight or obese.

Wet footprint test

Walk on a flat, dry surface with wet feet. Dry concrete or cardboard works well for this. Your footprints show which parts of your feet contact the ground. If the footprint is wide/oval with no obvious dry area where your foot should arch, this indicates over-pronation and flat feet.

If the footprint shows a curved connection between the heel and the ball of the foot, this indicates a neutral/moderate arch with a normal arch.

If the footprint shows little or no contact between the heel and the forefoot, this indicates underpronation (supination) and a high arch that does not contact the ground.

Wear and tear test

The next test you can do to determine if you are under or over is to check the tread on the soles of your shoes.

Wear on the inside edge of the heel and big toe indicates excessive wear. Wear on the outer edge of the foot from the heel to the little toe indicates underpronation. For neutral pronation, wear shoes in an S shape, from the outside heel to the big toe.

Gate analysis running

For best results, professional gait analysis gives you accurate feedback while running. Running gait analysis is usually performed by acquiring slow-motion footage. Treadmill running from different angles. Motion analysis software is used to provide accurate data on joint angles and distances.

With the right guidance, gait analysis can help you adjust your running technique. Choose the right running shoes. Running gait analysis is becoming increasingly available and is often a free service that comes with shoe fitting.


You can analyze your gait yourself with the help of video analysis apps – though be sure to have your results verified by a professional before making any major changes.

How do I correct overpronation or underpronation (supination)?

In most cases, excessive and invasive damage can be corrected non-invasively and inexpensively.

Well-fitting shoes with arch support can help achieve neutral pronation. A wide variety of shoe inserts and insoles are available to correct pronation problems. These can help reduce pain and improve heel alignment when walking and running. Kinesiology tape to brace the foot is also an effective way to control foot prolapse.

Simple foot strengthening exercises and barefoot running can help correct overpronation by strengthening the arch of the foot. Try the following exercises as part of your training routine:

Flexors of the foot

‘Crunch’ Or flex your foot to bring the heel and toes together. Hold this position for two seconds. Repeat for eight reps and three sets.

Raised the calf

In a standing position, lift your heels off the ground and hold for two seconds. Repeat for eight reps and three sets.

In more severe cases, overpronation and flat feet may require custom orthotics, pain medication, ice, physical therapy, and, as a last resort, surgery. This can happen if you have long-standing problems with your feet or if injury and scar tissue have affected your foot’s movement.

Which shoes are best for overpronation and underpronation (supination)?

Choosing shoes is a big deal. For runners, running shoes are simultaneously considered the root of poor performance and injury and the source of success and healing. Barefoot evangelists preach zero cushioning and ‘natural’ techniques. Podiatrists prescribe arch supports and corrective orthotics. Both agree that achieving neutrality reduces pain, reduces injury, and improves performance.

A popular way to achieve neutral pronation is to wear shoes that actively encourage it. These usually incorporate motion control features such as arch support to prevent overpronation or lateral support to prevent underpronation (supination).

While these properties may reduce pain in the short term, it is unclear whether they reduce injury in the long term. In some studies of motion control shoes, injury rates were reduced(3 4)while in others, they were unchanged.(5,6) or possibly increased.(7) To complicate matters further, one study found that those who wore neutral shoes without motion control had the lowest injury rates.(8)

Criticisms of cushioned, supportive shoes are that they reduce sensitivity to the running surface and weaken the foot by providing support instead of bone, muscle, and connective tissue. This is counterproductive from an injury perspective.

An alternative solution is to wear shoes with less cushioning. Walk barefoot. This can help strengthen the arch of the foot and naturally correct overpronation. Unfortunately, there is little evidence to show whether this results in fewer injuries.

Conflicting evidence proves one thing. The relationship between foot type, performance and injury is complex. There are no ‘one size fits all’ solutions to pronation problems. Except maybe the ‘comfort filter’.

Recent evidence suggests that runners intuitively select the most appropriate footwear for performance based on injury prevention and comfort.(7,8) After all, pain is a good indicator when something is not right.

So until a definitive answer is found, choose shoes that feel comfortable while allowing for sensitivity on the running surface.

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