The foot is designed to pronate / roll inwards a little when we walk or run. This slight pronation is NORMAL PRONATION. The pronation is a shock absorption mechanism of the foot.
SO IT IS NORMAL. When the foot pronates too much – excessive pronation – it can cause or contribute to injury in the foot or higher up.
So if you pronate NORMALLY then you do not do anything about it.
If you pronate excessively AND IT IS CAUSING OR CONTRIBUTING TO INJURY then get an antipronation / supportive shoe. If necessary get an orthotic device to support you.
I am going to try and simplify this matter of pronation / overpronation and underpronation / supination.
The foot has a complex anatomical structure but in motion it has an even more complex biomechanical function.
When running the heel contacts the ground in a turned in position called inverted. From there the foot rolls inwards (pronates) and the forefoot contacts the ground. This normal pronation can be measured to be between 2 and 4 degrees. This phase of the foot function is to absorb shock. From this pronated position the foot rolls to the outside and this is called supination. As this happens the foot locks into a rigid lever to propel us forward. The foot should move into these various positions at the right time for it to function efficiently and normally.
This type of foot is called a neutral or normal functioning foot.
In the running population out there most runners do not have these neutral / normal feet.
The most common biomechanical malfunction is that of excessive pronation. This means that when the foot is meant to pronate it does not stop at the normal amount and keeps on rolling into an abnormal position called excessive pronation. This abnormal biomechanical malfunction may cause a variety of injuries. There are many runners out there that excessively pronate and do not have any injuries.
The opposite of this excessive pronation is excessive supination. This means that the foot does not pronate when it should and the foot stays turned out excessively to the outside. This is also abnormal and may be a cause of injury.
To see if you pronate excessively or supinate excessively you need a full biomechanical by a professional. This will include a running shoe examination, a static clinical examination and a running examination.
My best advice for you to see what you feet are doing is to see a sports podiatrist to examine you. Your local specialist running shoe shop can also help you in this matter. Your running shoes will also show signs of distortion and that will direct you as to what you are doing in your feet.
LOOK AT YOURSELF
What you can do yourself is try the wet foot test (See Runners World . …..)
to see if you have low or high arches.
Also try and see how much space you have under your arch. If there is no space then you have flat feet and possibly pronate excessively. If you have loads of space under your arch that you have high arches and you may oversupinate.
Also look at the wear patterns of your old running shoes. If the upper of the shoe collapses inwards then you are probably pronating excessively. And if the upper of the shoe collapses to the outside then you may be supinating excessively.
The outersole will also give you clues as to what your feet are doing. Excessive wear on the medial (inside) of the outersole shows excessive pronation and similarly excessive wear on the lateral (outside) of the outersole shows excessive supination.
This information and / advice is the opinion of the author in his capacity as a qualified and registered podiatrist.
The information and advice is meant as a guide only and is intended to be easily understandable to the lay person.
Anyone seeking health and/or medical advice is strongly advised to consult a qualified professional of their choice. If you have any specific questions about any podiatric or medical matter or are in need of treatment you should consult your podiatrist, doctor, or other professional health care provider.