Sunday, February 9, 2014

Pronation vs. Supination

I love shoes and I even spent a brief period of time helping to open up a local running store.  We performed gait analysis on a treadmill using a video camera and I was able to learn a lot about different brands, styles and running mechanics.

One thing we stressed was that running shoes shouldn’t just be about appearance and color choices!  There is a science that goes into choosing the right running shoe.  You will be spending a lot of time in them (the approximate life of a running shoe is 300-400 miles) so it is crucial to buy a shoe that fits your foot and running style.


Everyone’s gait naturally goes through some pronation and supination.  It’s normal.  A healthy foot strikes the ground and slightly rolls inward to absorb shock.  During the push off phase, the foot rolls toward the outside of the foot to propel you forward.

Neutral runners would benefit from a neutral shoe or even one with light stability.


Having flat feet is a major indicator of an over-pronator.  Fallen arches and an inward roll can have a significant effect on your susceptibility to injuries.  Common problems that can occur include plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, stress fractures, medial knee issues, hip and lower back problems. 

Over-pronators should look for a shoe with mild stability or a motion control shoe depending on the severity.  Having a little support can prevent over-pronation and simulate a more neural stride.


Supination is the exact opposite of pronation.  High arches with a landing on the outside of the foot.  Over-supination can lead to extra stress on the lower limbs.  Typically when the foot is over-supinating it is also under-pronating and the foot isn’t as efficient at absorbing shock.  This can cause shin splints, plantar fasciitis, lateral knee issues, lateral ankle instability, ankle sprains, or even stress fractures of the tibia, calcaneus, and metatarsals. 

A supinator might look for a cushioned shoe to add extra support and comfort to the arch.

Most specialty running stores will go through their own version of a shoe fitting.  It is definitely beneficial to experience the whole process at a specialty running store instead of buying your shoes at a sporting good store or online!  Happy feet = happy running!

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