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What is pronation, and why does it matter?

Pronation is part of the natural movement of the human body and refers to the way your foot rolls inward for impact distribution upon landing. Understanding your pronation type can help you find a comfortable running shoe.

1) Underpronators (supinators) need a lot of cushioning to avoid strong impact

2) Neutral pronators can wear a wide variety of shoes

3) Overpronators should look for support or structured cushioning shoes

Understanding Pronation

When your foot strikes the ground, it rolls inward to absorb the shock, and the arch supports on average three times your body weight. People who roll inward too much or not enough can experience running injuries due to less effective shock absorption.




How Your Foot Contacts the Ground: outer side of the heel hits the ground at an increased angle with little or no normal pronation, causing a large transmission of shock through the lower leg.

Push Off: pressure on smaller toes on outside of foot.

Considered Injuries: plantar fasciitis, shin splints, ankle strain.

Foot type: high arches.



How Your Foot Contacts the Ground: foot lands on outside of the heel, then rolls inward (pronates) to absorb shock and support body weight

Push Off: even distribution from the front of the foot.

Considered Injuries: less likely due to effective shock absorption, but neutral runners are not immune to injury.

Foot Type: normal-size arches



How Your Foot Contacts the Ground: foot lands on outside of heel, then rolls inward (pronates) excessively, transferring weight to inner edge instead of ball of the foot

Push Off: big toe and second toe do majority of the work

Considered Injuries: shin splints, plantar fasciitis, bunions, heel spurs

Foot Type: low arches or flat feet

How to determine your pronation type

Check wear patterns on your shoe


Wear patterns won't provide the full picture of gait analysis, but they can give additional clues about the impact on your feet. This can give you an idea of where you may need extra support and cushioning in your running shoes.

For Underpronators/Supinators:

- Outside of your running shoes show the most wear

- If you put your running shoes on a flat surface, you may notice a slight outward tilt

For Neutral Pronators:

- Soles of your running shoes show wear in an S-shaped pattern, from the outer (lateral) heel to the big toe

- If you put your shoes on a flat surface, you may not notice any tilt

For Overpronators:

- Extra wear on the inside of the heel and under the ball of the foot, especially the big toe

- If you put your shoes on a flat surface, you may notice an inward tilt

Choosing the right running shoes

Once you understand your pronation type, you can find a shoe with the optimal amount of support and cushioning.



Cushioned Running Shoes

As underpronators (also called supinators) tend to be susceptible to shock-related injuries where you should choose a neutral running shoe with plenty of cushioning.

- Focused on midsole cushioning for extra shock absorption

- Cushioning along outside of running shoe to counter outward roll of foot

- Cushioning in the heel

- Flexible shoes help evenly distribute impact



Neutral running shoes

When you have a normal pronation pattern you can run in a wide variety of shoes, but specialized neutral running shoes offering cushioning and support are most suitable.

- Neutral cushioned shoes promote natural foot motion

- Beginners may want to start with a cushioning shoe for support

- Some runners may like natural running shoes that provide a feeling of more ground contact



Stability Running Shoes

Overpronators need extra support, structured cushioning, and stability.

- Stability running shoes help distribute the impact of running more effectively to minimize pronation

- Medial post support, sometimes extended through to the heel

- Firm midsoles provide arch support

- For severe overpronators, you may want to consider a motion control shoe with extra cushioning



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