Anyone who enters the world of running is bound to come across the term pronation sooner or later.
If you’re new to running and you’re not sure what pronation is, then read on. Even if you’re an experienced runner, stick around, too — you just might learn something new today.
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What Is Pronation?
Pronation refers to the way your foot rolls inward to distribute the force of impact when you run. Part of the natural movement of the human body, pronation helps with shock absorption and enables you to push off evenly from the front of the foot.
When your foot strikes the ground, it rolls inward about 15 per cent and the arch supports three times your body weight on average. This is normal, and shouldn’t cause any problems.
However, some runners have feet that roll inward too much (overpronation) or too little (underpronation or supination). Both conditions are less effective at absorbing shock and can lead to running injuries.
How Does Pronation Work?
The size of your foot arch defines your pronation type. Runners with normal-size arches have neutral pronation. Individuals with low arches or flat feet tend to overpronate. Those with high arches are likely to underpronate.
Landing And Pushing
Neutral pronation: The foot lands on the outside of the heel and rolls inward. The entire front of the foot then pushes off the ground evenly.
Overpronation: The foot lands on the outside of the heel and rolls inward excessively. Instead of the ball of the foot, the inner edge catches most of the weight. The big toe and second toe have to work harder when pushing off.
Underpronation: The foot lands on the outside of the heel and does not or barely rolls inward, sending a shock through the lower leg. This also puts pressure on the smaller toes during push-off.
Overpronating or underpronating puts a runner at risk for various injuries. Overpronation injuries include shin splints, bunions, heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, calluses, runner’s knee, Achilles tendinitis, while underpronation injuries include plantar fasciitis, ankle strain, shin splints, Achilles tendinits and iliotibial band syndrome.
The Right Shoes
Wearing the right shoes can help prevent running injuries.
Overpronators should look for shoes with:
- Structured cushioning and stability
- Straight or semi-curved lasts
- Multidensity midsoles
- Medial post support
- Arch supports or over-the-counter orthotics may be used as well.
Underpronators require shoes with:
- Curved lasts
- Plenty of cushioning—in the midsole, outer edge, and heel
- Lightweight shoes are also recommended for more foot motion.
Determine Your Pronation Type
There are a few ways to determine your pronation type. You can find a running clinic or shoe store that offers video gait analysis or 3D foot mapping. Or, you can look at the wear patterns on your running shoes. While not as accurate as a video gait analysis or 3D foot mapping, checking wear patterns will give you an idea of your pronation type.
Wear on the soles is in an S shape that can be traced from the outer heel to the big toe. Shoes do not tilt if put on a flat surface.
- Wear is on the inside of the heel and under the ball of the foot, particularly the big toe.
- Shoes may tilt inward if placed on a flat surface.
- Wear is mostly on the outer edge of the sole.
- Shoes may tilt outward if put on a flat surface.
We hope this article has given you a better understanding of pronation. You should now know the difference between neutral pronation, overpronation, and underpronation.
Remember, you can’t change your pronation type, but you can change your running shoes to avoid pronation-related injuries.