Does the pain in your arch, ankle, or leg keep you from doing all the activities you love? Pronation can make getting from place to place difficult, and also lead to serious injuries, so it is a condition that should not be ignored. We have created this comprehensive injury guide to help you on the road to recovery.
Foot pronation is the natural movement of the foot during walking or running. How your foot moves, lands, and absorbs the pressure of each step can be categorized into one of two groups.
Underpronation occurs when you take a step and instead of your ankle slightly rolling inward it rolls outward. The outward motion that happens during the step can greatly impact your whole body. People who overpronate are prone to back pain and plantar fasciitis.
Another term for overpronation is hyperpronation. People with hyperpronation tend to have low arches and flat feet. This abnormal motion can lead to many different conditions like heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, and shin splints.
P eople who have hyperpronation of foot, also known as overpronation, typically can link the causes to either a structural problem in the foot or a weakness in their foot, leg, or ankle. The weakness can be caused by poor fitting shoes, an injury to the foot, or poor body alignment. The most common causes of hyperpronation are flat feet, pregnancy, and being overweight.
Underpronation is usually caused by an inherited problem or structural issue within the foot. Similar to overpronation, underpronation can also be caused by a weakness of muscles within the foot, ankle, or leg. Other common causes are poor shoes, previous injury, or a misalignment within the body.
Injuries Caused by Underpronation and Overpronation
If you are experiencing pain in your body it could be caused by excessive pronation of foot and ankle. Anything from mild to severe overpronation and underpronation can cause multiple issues. Below is an extensive list of many of the injuries improper foot pronation can cause.
The symptoms you experience with underpronation and overpronation can help guide you in developing a treatment plan. Your unique symptoms will be helpful in guiding your doctor and getting you back to running and walking without pain.
For overpronation, symptoms may include flat feet, arch pain, lower joint pain, and hammer toes. When your body is placed out of alignment with poor pronation of the feet it will affect the rest of your body.
Underpronation symptoms are typically caused by ankle instability. You will develop tightness within your ankle which can cause ankle sprains and poor foot mobility. This all will lead to pain in your hip joints, lower back pain, and shin splints.
If you suspect that you have overpronation or underpronation your first step should be to get a proper diagnosis from a professional. They will be able to assess your gait to determine if you need further evaluation. Your doctor or a podiatrist may assess you for pain, swelling, or deformities in your foot and ankle that could be contributing to the poor pronation and supination of foot and ankle.
If you want to do a quick self-assessment before you seek a professional opinion we have a helpful plan for you!
First, take a look at your shoes. Is the wear pattern on the bottom of your shoe on the arch side or outer foot side? If it is on the arch side than you most likely overpronate and if it is on the outside you probably underpronate.
Second, take a look in the mirror as you stand to examine your arch. Is there space under your arch or is it flat on the ground? If it is flat on the ground you most likely overpronate.
Lastly, get your feet wet. Step onto concrete or ground that will leave a watermark. If you see a complete footprint than you probably overpronate.
A gait analysis is a quick, non-invasive way to check how your feet pronate. This can usually be done at a running shoe specialty store or with a podiatrist or physical therapist. They will watch you from behind while you walk and run to look at your foot and ankle movement. This simple analysis from an expert can be incredibly helpful in choosing the best shoes for overpronation and underpronation.
3D Foot Mapping
3D foot mapping is a system that analyzes your foot using laser and micro cameras. Your foot length, arch height, ball girth, and forefoot width are measured. This scan is used to help find the best shoes for your feet.
Pain from overpronation and underpronation doesn’t have to stop you from doing the things you love. There are multiple types of pronation treatment, from overpronation shoes, pronation insoles, and ankle brace for pronation to just name a few. Your doctor, physical therapist, or podiatrist will be able to help you develop the right plan for your gait.
Ankle braces are ideal for all day support while dealing with pain and fatigue. ( See Product on Amazon )
An ankle brace is a great way to stabilize your ankle and foot to prevent further damage. The ankle brace will prevent your foot from rotating inward or outward too far during each step. By preventing your ankle from rotating, any already present overpronation or underpronation will not worsen.
The best orthotics are made to fit a variety of shoes while still delivering comfort and support. ( See Product on Amazon)
Orthotics are inserts for pronation that slide into your shoe and are designed to support your foot and arch. By reducing the impact, the shoe insole will improve how your foot lands during each step. You can buy over the counter orthotic insoles for overpronation and supination or they can be prescribed by a doctor or podiatrist.
When you are searching for the perfect full length orthotic for your shoes keep an eye out for one that works for your specific needs. Overpronation inserts should have a high arch to support your flat feet and cushion your heel. We like full length orthotics for shoes that you will wear frequently. The support you receive from these cannot be matched.
¾ Length Orthotics
3/4 length orthotics are perfect when trying to fit smaller shoes, or toeless footwear. ( See Product on Amazon )
As you look for the best insoles for pronation, you’ll need to take into account the shape of your shoe. These 3/4 length orthotics are the perfect versatile orthotic that can be used in almost any shoe, even those shoes with pointed toes. These orthotics will give you the arch support for overpronation and thankfully will fit into almost any shoes.
Full Length Gel Orthotics
Add soft gel padding to your orthotics to ensure every step is as comfortable as you need it to be. ( See Product on Amazon)
Overpronation insoles are the perfect first step in treating your foot pain. We know how tough it is to find both a comfortable orthotic and one that supports your arch. That is why we recommend full length gel orthotics. Gel orthotics can be trimmed to be a perfect fit for both your foot and your shoe!
When choosing the best shoes for pronation, we recommend finding a store that specializes in running shoes.Underpronation running shoes should have plenty of room in the toes and a stable base. This will allow your foot to move back into a more neutral position.
The best running shoes for overpronation are often referred to as motion control shoes. These shoes have added support for people with flat feet and more cushioning. For added support, use your favorite underpronation or overpronation orthotics in your new shoes.
The best pronation exercises will help stretch your leg muscles and strengthen your arch. People who overpronate need exercises that will improve their flat feet and bring their arch back up. Those who underpronate tend to have tight calf muscles and achilles tendons.
Calf and Achilles Tendon Stretch
Step 1: Stand up facing a wall.
Step 2: Move one foot towards the wall and the other foot back.
Step 3: Place your hands onto the wall.
Step 4: Bend your front knee.
Step 5: Move your weight onto the front leg and keep your back heel down.
Step 6: Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.
Kinesiology tape can be used to fix overpronation. When applied, the tape will support your foot’s arch and reduce the excessive pronation and help your joints get back into alignment and reduce pain.
Your road to a full pronation recovery will vary based on the amount your underpronate or overpronate. Keep in mind, the sooner you fix pronation the faster you will recover. For many people, abnormal pronation will be a lifelong issue. For these people, they will need to wear orthotics or use another treatment device.
Preventing Overpronation and Underpronation
Pronation is an extremely common condition. If you are looking to prevent pronation the best way to do so is use orthotics, replace old shoes, and keep your legs and ankles strong and flexible. Foot and ankle pronation doesn’t have to happen to you, and if you look after your body you can prevent all the aches and pains that come with it.
Taking Pronation in Stride
Pain in your foot and legs caused by pronation doesn’t have to slow you down. Have a professional analyze at your gait to see if you overpronate or underpronate. Once you have a diagnosis, take a look at our list of treatments to support you on your road to a full recovery. Your foot is the base of your body, don’t ignore your aches and pains it can lead to more problems!
Patty Weasler is a freelance health writer and nurse. She is certified in critical care nursing and has been practicing for over 10 years. Patty lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband and three children. She enjoys spending her time with family and educating people about their health.
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