As a runner it’s important to understand how the body works. Running with proper form will not only make you faster, but help prevent injury, and add years of running life to your body. So today we’ll be looking at pronation of the foot. And more specifically, overpronation vs underpronation. Which are responsible for a large number of injuries amongst runners. A shame, because there are treatments for both. Below we’ll go over pronation, overpronation, and underpronation. How they are different and how correct any issues you may be having.
Overpronation Vs Underpronation – Causes, Injuries, & Treatments
What is Foot Pronation
Pronation of the foot is its natural motion of rotating inward while flattening during a cycle of your running gait. Whether you’re walking or running, your foot does this natural inward roll to help defuse the shock and impact of the ground. With this, foot pronation is typically classified in three different ways. Normal pronation, overpronation, and underpronation. Let’s look at each.
Neutral Pronation – The natural and correct way (for your body) the foot should roll and flatten while running. This is ideal for runners.
Overpronation – When your foot rolls inward too much while running / walking. Which can cause foot, arch, and lower leg issues.
Underpronation (or Over Supination) – When your foot doesn’t roll inward enough while running / walking. Which causes more impact on the lower leg and can lead to lower leg injuries over time.
We’ve already discussed what foot pronation is. But below I’ll break down under and overpronation in more detail below.
Overpronation – Causes, Resulting Injuries, & Treatments
What causes overpronation of the foot?
A few of the more common causes of overpronation include:
- Genetics, some people’s bodies are just more susceptible to overpronation than others.
- Being overweight can place more pressure on the foot causing more inward roll than usual on impact.
- Muscle imbalances in the foot, ankle, and lower led can result in excessive inward roll.
- Wearing shoes that are the wrong size or lack the needed support can also result in overpronation.
Injuries Resulting from Overpronation
Continuing to run with overpronation can result in a variety of foot injuries, including pain from anywhere from your foot, ankle, knee, to lower back. Along with increased risk for collapsed arches, tendonitis, planters fasciitis, and shin splints. If you are having any of these symptoms, it’s important to either have our running gate examined or talk to a doctor. Talking to a physical therapist may be the next step.
Treatments for Overpronation
- Wearing Support Shoes – Wearing shoes that offer corrective support for runners with overpronation.
- Physical Therapy – Working with a physical therapist to recover from injuries and work on proper running for.
- Massage and Bodywork – Getting bodywork like massage and chiropractic work may help speed recovery and help with loosening the area.
- Strengthening Your Muscles – Adding a strength routine, building strength slowly will go a long way to helping support proper running form.
- Work on Flexibility – Working on your foot and ankle mobility is important to help treat and prevent overpronation.
Underpronation – Causes, Resulting Injuries, & Treatments
Note that the technical term for underpronation is over supination. And you will hear or see this a lot in image and video examples.
What causes underpronation of the foot?
Common causes of underpronation include:
- Genetics, some people are genetically predisposed to lacking inward roll in their running gait . This is typically due to their specific body mechanics.
- Higher arches can make it difficult for the food to be stable when it rolls inwards. Causing the body to compensate with underpronation.
- Lack of foot flexibility of plantar fasciitis can prevent the foot from rolling inward naturally. Causing underpronation.
- Running in flat or rigid shoes can rodent the foot from rolling. And force to run un-naturally.
Injuries Resulting from Underpronation
Underpronation when running can cause a lot of problems in the body by increasing the impact you take with every step. Resulting in injuries including pain anywhere from the foot to lower back. And lead to shin splints, tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, stress fractures in the foot. Please go see a doctor of physical therapists if you feel like you have any of these issues.
Treatments for Underpronation
Common treatments for underpronation include:
- Wearing Support Shoes – The first thing you can do is get shoes with support specifically designed for people with underpronation.
- Added Arch Support – You can add arch support by looking for shoes specifically designed with higher arch support. Or by using an added orthopedic insole for the added support.
- Strengthen the Ankle – Work on building strength in and around the foot, ankle, and calf area to help support your body when running.
- Increased Mobility – Focusing on increased foot and ankle mobility will help let the ankle roll inward while running.
- Physical Therapist or Doctor – If you are having any of the mentioned leg issues associated with underpronation, then consulting a physical therapist or doctor is a very good idea.
Conclusion – Overpronation vs Underpronation
In short, overpronation is the excessive inward roll of the foot and ankle while running. And underpronation is the lack of any normal inward roll (pronation) or over supinating in the other direction.
When it comes to pronation of the foot, and comparing overpronation vs underpronation. It’s important to understand that while the cause of the two is very different, many symptoms of the two start to show themselves in very similar ways. Including pain in the feet, ankles or anywhere in the lower legs. And both can increase your first of more serious injuries like shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and tendonitis. So it’s important if you are feeling pain to seek out a medical diagnosis from a professional.
That said both overpronation and underpronation are very fixable. With many options for most runners looking to get back on track with their running form. And if you have any questions about foot pronation while running. Please let me know in the comments below!