What Is Pronation, Overpronation, And Supination?

Updated: Oct 19

Pronation and Supination are natural and essential for healthy feet and ankles. The truth is the natural functional foot is an incredible piece of kit and is designed to pronate and supinate when you walk and run. Your movement skill shapes your anatomy, you are how you move. Pronation and Supination are necessary shock absorption and stability mechanisms for healthy functioning feet and ankles.

What about pronation and running shoes?

It is very normal to go to your local running store to have your gait checked and shoes prescribed according to your level of pronation and foot type. But does controlling pronation reduce injuries? According to research funded by Nike in 2010, “our current approach of prescribing in-shoe pronation control systems on the basis of foot type is overly simplistic and potentially injurious.” Further “It is noteworthy that every runner who trained in the motion control shoe with a highly pronated foot posture reported an injury compared with only 2 runners in this same foot posture category wearing the neutral shoe” (1). That’s right, shockingly every runner prescribed a shoe designed to control their severe over pronation got injured. Pronation control is not the answer! 2015 research concluded, there is no evidence that foot pronation (eversion) is a variable responsible for running injuries”. And despite the supposed advances in footwear over the last 40 years, injury rates haven’t really changed”. (2)

Given they are natural, what are the right amounts of Pronation and Supination?

Pronation describes the movement of weight from the outside towards the inside. When the centre point of your bodyweight, known as your centre of mass, is moving inwards, you are pronating. Pronated defines one point in time. Pronated describes the centre of mass being on the inside of the midline of the foot. Stand and roll your feet inwards to feel pronation. When walking and running, pronation is a necessary part of the foot’s shock absorption mechanism, enabling it to be a mobile adapter.

Supination describes the opposite journey to pronation, the movement of the centre of mass from the inside towards the outside. Anytime the centre of mass is moving outwards you are supinating. Supinated describes the centre of mass being outside the midline of the foot. Stand and roll your feet to the outside to feel supination. When walking and running, supination is a necessary part of the foot’s stability mechanism, enabling the foot to be a rigid lever.

Whilst they are natural, Pronation and Supination are complex dynamic movements. When walking, your body moves over our feet from heel to big toe and at the same time your weight moves inside and outside (and inside) of the midline of the foot. Over Pronation, where your centre of mass rolls inside your big toe, and excessive Supination, where your weight stays along the outside of your foot, occur when you have insufficient strength and mobility in your ankles, feet, and toes to balance your centre of mass along the outside and inside of the midline.

When you walk with skillful natural technique, you will pronate and supinate as your bodyweight travels over your foot. It is natural to contact the floor just to the outside of the midline of the heel in a supinated position. Your weight moves inwards pronating as part of the body’s natural shock absorption mechanism. This encourages a smooth heel stroke before you roll outward supinating until contact is made through the balls of your feet, you then roll in again pronating across the balls and finally, as you leave the floor through the big toe and second toe, you roll outward and supinate.

Natural pronation and supination describe your weight moving inside and outside the midline of the foot. Your body weight is distributed half on the big toe and half on the other toes when you lift off into your next step. The human foot is a biomechanical marvel!