Shoe choice can affect your whole body, not just your feet. Inadequate or incorrect footwear can lead to problems with your knees, lower legs, hips, and lower back.
A very common condition that is found in millions of people all around the world, that can lead to different kind of foot problems like foot pain, ankle sprains, heel spurs, matatarsalgia etc;
What exactly is pronation, overpronation, and underpronation? How to diagnose your Gait pattern? And what is the solution for problem gaits: overpronation and underpronation?
You do a lot of daily countless motion but you may not focus on how your foot hits the ground when you walk or run. How you take steps actually plays a very important role in your health, and if you are into sports, then this could be a total game changer.
As you walk or run, the foot arch flattens and stretches, while your tendons, ligaments, and muscles come into this active role and are strained. If the flattening or stretching is done more or less, then this can lead to certain injuries.
- Ankle sprains
- Shin splints
- Achilles tendinitis
- Heel spurs
- Plantar fasciitis
your feet’ shock absorption level and bounce back level play an important role in your day-to-day activities, especially your performance.
If your foot rolls too far in or out, you will have to put more energy and can risk injury without the corrective footwear.
Your gait can show a pattern of neutral pronation, overpronation, or supination (underpronation). Researches tell that, if someone is overpronating or supinating, he/she is more prone to injuries.
Movement of the foot under natural motion(pronation)
So let us understand first the natural motion of your foot which is known as pronation and how your foot toes & muscles react.
In Pronation when you are walking or running, your foot normally rolls a bit inward with each step.
- All of the toes aid in push-off in normal pronation, but the big toe and second toe do more of the work while the others stabilize.
- When your heel strikes the ground, your arch begins to flatten and cushion the shock.
- When the foot roll upwards, the arch rises and stiffens to provide stability.
- Your weight moves to the outside of your foot and then comes back to the big toe.
when you walk or run, your ankle rolls too far downward and inward with each step, this is called overpronation.
The ankle continues to roll when the toes should be starting to push off. Due to this, the push-off work is done by the big toe and second toe, and the pressure doesn’t get distributed among all the toe. This also results in more foot twists with each step.
This is found mainly in people with flat feet, although not every person with flat feet overpronate.
Excess wear of the muscles, ligaments, and plantar fascia (arch) of the foot or strain can cause the foot to flatten too much, resulting in inward excessively while striking the ground, leading to overpronation.
Impact of overpronation
Overpronation puts an excessive strain on the big toe and second toe and brings instability in the foot. The excessive inward rotation of the foot leads to more rotation of the tibia, which brings the risk of shin splints and posterior tibialis tendon dysfunction in older adults.
- Ankle sprains
- Heel spurs
- Plantar fasciitis
- when you walk, your weight tends to be more on the outside of your foot. The foot naturally supinates at a certain angle during the toe-off stage of your stride. The heel first lifts off the ground, aids to roll off the toes.
Causes of supination
Supination usually comes in inheritance: an inherited problem with the structure of your foot. It can also be caused by weakness in certain muscles of your foot, ankle, and leg. This may be due to:
- Wearing rigid, tight shoes all the time
- misalignment of the body
- a prior injury that damaged your tendons or muscles
Impact of supination
In supination, the case is a little different. The foot does not pronate enough at the toe-off stage, resulting in the ultimate pressure on the outer edge and small toes.
It is seen more often in people with high rigid arches that don’t flatten enough during a stride.
· ankle injuries
· inflammation of the sole, known as plantar fascitis.
· shin splints, calluses, or bunions on the outer side of your foot.
· Pain in your heels and balls of your feet.
back and hip pain
This also puts stress on the knee
Those who supinate, need to do some exercises to stretch their affected foot muscles & tendons along with the exercises to strengthen them.
How to Diagnose Your Gait Pattern
You can assess this at your home by these two simple methods.
Put on the table a pair of shoes or boots that you have been wearing regularly with the heels facing you. If you notice a tilt towards the inner side from the heel side, chances are you are an overpronator.
If the heels tilt outward, you may be a supinator.
Shoe wears pattern
Now after doing the shoe tilt exercise, take a look at the soles of your shoes. More wear on the inner side of the heel and under the big toe is a sign that you are an Overpronator, while wear on the outside edge of the shoe tells that you may be a Supinator. Neutral runners Soles show wear in an S-shaped pattern, from the outer (lateral) heel to the big toe.
Solutions for Problem Gaits
Neutral runners have a lot of options for shoes. If you have mild to moderate supination or overpronation, and pain while walking or running, there are shoes specially designed for people with such conditions. Selecting the right kind of shoes for your gait can enhance your foot comfort. If the pain persists, you may need prescription orthotics from a podiatrist.
- Overpronators should look for support or structured cushioning shoes.
- Stability shoes for (mild) overpronation
- Motion-control shoes for (pronounced)
- Custom orthotics for (severe)
- Underpronators (supinators) need a lot of cushioning along with good flexibility in shoes to avoid injuries.
- You can also work with a physical therapist to strengthen the muscles and to loosen tight tendons in your legs and feet.
- Custom orthotics who are facing (severe)supination
Note- most running shoes cater to people who overpronate, as overpronation is more common than supination.