Foot pronation describes the motion of the foot after it strikes the ground. It is part of a person's natural movement that helps the lower leg deal with shock. Every person pronates to some extent and it is necessary in the normal walking cycle as it allows the forefoot to make complete contact with the ground. Some people pronate more (overpronation) or less (underpronation) than others.
What are the different kinds of pronation?
Normal pronation: The normal running gait strikes heel first, rolls to the arch, and then pushes off with the ball of the foot and allows for a more efficient push off. A person with a normal arch tends to have normal pronation.
Overpronation: When you pronate too much, your weight is transferred to the inner part of the foot, and as the runner moves forward the load is borne by the inner portion rather than the ball of the foot. A person with a flat or flattish arch tends to overpronate.
Underpronation (supination): If you underpronate, the feet roll outwards (or remain highly rigid) when in contact with the ground. A person with a very high arch may tend to underpronate.
What are the risks for injury?
Excessive pronation that is not addressed can lead to a wide range of overuse injuries, affecting ligaments in the feet, ankles, hips, the achillies tendons, knees and lower back.
Is knowing your pronation type important?
Since pronation is an essential part of running mechanics it tends to be a focal point for many runners. When your natural motion becomes abnormal, it can cause alternations in the running mechanics of the entire leg which can potentially lead to a running injury. There are a few injury prevention methods available, orthotics for example, and finding a running shoe that matches your pronation patterns.
If you are unsure what your pronation type is, the best way to find out is to get running gait analyzed by a podiatrist or sports therapist. This way, you can be sure that you will get an accurate diagnosis of your running style, which will ultimately help you determine the best training methods and products that suit your individual needs.
References from the SIRC Collection:
1. Cheung R, Ng G. Influence of Different Footwear on Force of Landing During Running. Physical Therapy. May 2008;88(5):620-628.
2. Efficacies of different external controls for excessive foot pronation: a meta-analysis. British Journal Of Sports Medicine. July 15, 2011;45(9):743-751.
3. Gojanovic B. Foot pronation is not associated with increased injury risk in novice runners wearing a neutral shoe: a 1-year prospective cohort study. Schweizerische Zeitschrift Für Sportmedizin & Sporttraumatologie. December 2013;61(4):52-53.
4. Halvorson R. Does Foot Pronation Cause Injury?. IDEA Fitness Journal. October 2013;10(9):11.
5. Zambelli Pinto R, Souza T, Maher C. External devices (including orthotics) to control excessive foot pronation. British Journal Of Sports Medicine. February 2012;46(2):110-111.