PRONATION VS. SUPINATION

Does this sound like something which has happened to you recently? You went to your local running store in search of a good, basic running shoe. Nothing fancy. You looked at all the shoes on the shoe wall and were amazed at the number of great shoes.

 

Soon, a store associate asked if you needed help, and when you said yes, you were probably asked to take off your shoes and socks and walk or jog either around the store or on a treadmill. Your stride was closely scrutinized by one of the experts on the shoe floor who pronounced that you are either a pronator or a supinator.

 

I’m a what?

 

For crying out loud, you just wanted to get some shoes so you can begin running and now, before you even bought a pair of shoes, it appears that you have some mysterious, unknown condition, requiring extra attention and special shoes.

 

Don’t fear. You’re just fine.

 

We’re here for you. And what we’ll do is explain this pronation/supination quandary in clear, simple terms and set you up in the perfect Mizuno shoe.

 

Before we even get started, let’s set the record straight: Pronation is not a bad thing. As a matter of fact, pronation is actually good, and it’s perfectly natural. It occurs when the foot contacts the ground. After that, the arch then collapses—pronates—and acts as your body’s shock absorber. Being a pronator does not make you a bad person, it doesn’t even make you a bad runner!

 

Nearly everyone pronates to some extent. However, all people are different, and therefore some folks pronate much more or much less than others. If your feet didn’t pronate at all, your body wouldn’t be able to absorb the shock of walking, running or jumping.

 

The opposite of pronation is supination. You will hear some runners who claim to be supinators, but that’s a misnomer. Just like pronation, everyone supinates to some degree. You must supinate in order for your feet to push off and move into the next step.

 

Without getting too technical, when you supinate, the bones in the foot form a rigid lever which is necessary to push off into the next step in the running or walking stride.

 

When we walk or run, we land in a supinated position and then move to a more pronated position to absorb the shock of contacting the ground. From there, the foot then moves into a final supinated phase which leads to the foot pushing off into the next stride.

 

So pronation and supination are not only good, both are absolutely necessary. What is not so good is when the foot pronates too much–or too little.

 

First, too much pronation is termed overpronation. This occurs when the arch collapses either at too great an angle or it stays collapsed too long through the gait cycle. Overpronation is common enough though, occurring in more than half of the running population.

 

But overpronation–the distinctive inward collapse of the arch–is hard to see with the untrained, naked eye at full speed. On video it’s very apparent. It’s impossible for you to see it in yourself without video. That’s why it’s especially important to have your running gait analyzed by an expert at your favorite running shoe.

 

The problem is when overpronation is left unchecked, energy is lost and even worse, torque is placed on the lower part of the body and transmitted right up the legs. Uncontrolled overpronation is most often associated with all sorts of lower leg injuries such as shin splints, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, hamstring strains and hip pain. That’s why if you overpronate and wear the wrong type of shoe (i.e., an unsupportive one), there’s a strong possibility of injury.

 

Don’t despair. Many of today’s modern running shoes are designed to reduce the rate of overpronation while still allowing the feet to pronate adequately and work as shock absorbers.

 

These types of shoes are labeled as either support, stability or motion control shoes. Though the terms are different, the end result is the same: These shoes will reduce the degree of overpronation and thus, minimize the injuries associated with it.

 

Most running brands offer shoes that reduce overpronation by using various devices. Most common is two-density midsole which incorporates a firmer section of midsole foam on the medial (inner) side to reduce overpronation. Brands also use external and internal heel devices to stabilize the rearfoot at heel strike as well as crash pads in the heel to slow the rate of pronation.

 

At Mizuno, we attack overpronation in a completely different way. Rather than use   multi-density midsoles to reduce overpronation, all Mizuno running shoes use our exclusive Wave technology which cushions and stabilizes the foot. By using different Waves Plates (different sizes, shapes and materials), Mizuno running shoes are designed to accommodate different foot gaits, including overpronation, so the shoe adjusts to your specific foot and running style.

 

For example, our support shoes such as the Wave Inspire and Wave Paradox utilize a Wave plate—the Fan Wave–which stabilizes the foot and reduces the amount of overpronation to a safe, acceptable level.

 

At the opposite end of the spectrum from overpronation, is something which is typically called supination or oversupination. In actuality, this condition should be termed underpronation. This is when the foot is very rigid and stiff and doesn’t bend, flex or pronate enough.

 

Often, the runner who underpronates has a foot with a high arch (or no arch) which places more weight on the outer edge of the foot. Since the foot is often so rigid, it doesn’t absorb shock well. The runner tends to run on the outside edge of the foot (often on the midfoot or forefoot) and doesn’t roll inward enough (pronate) like a normal foot does to absorb shock. Injuries commonly associated with an underpronating foot are an exceptionally tight Achilles tendon, knee problems, ankle sprains, stress fractures and tight hip muscles.

 

True underpronation is much less common than overpronation (less than 10 percent of the running population). But getting the right shoe type is just as important. For a runner who underpronates, the shock absorption (i.e., cushioning) qualities of the shoe is critical since the foot doesn’t do a good enough job of absorbing that shock on its own.

 

The type of shoes that work best for this runner is often called a neutral, cushioned shoe. These shoes emphasize cushioning and flexibility without restricting the foot’s movement at all with external or internal devices. At Mizuno, our family of neutral shoes use the Parallel Wave which is an entirely different Wave shape than the support shoes. The Parallel Wave does add some inherent support, while encouraging natural foot movement.

 

Finally, the majority of runners have “normal” arches and pronate neither too much or too little. These runners are lucky because they can wear pretty much wear whatever shoe fits well and feels comfortable without any pronation concerns.

 

Are you an overpronator, underpronator or do you just have a normal foot type which pronates an acceptable amount? Unfortunately, there’s no reliable way for the average runner to determine this.

 

Contrary to popular belief, shoe wear is not a reliable indicator. The best way to determine your foot type/gait (and thus, the type of shoe you need) is to go to a specialty running store and have a shoe expert watch you run. Many stores offer a treadmill and will make a video of you while running. If you underpronate or overpronate or pronate normally, this will be immediately apparent (more so if a video is made) and the shoe expert will fit you in the proper type of shoe.

 

If you don’t know of a store, ask around! Most runners can easily recommend the best store with the top fitting experts that will get you on your way to safe and enjoyable running that is specific to you.

 

The key to determining your foot type is to go to a reputable running store with experts in fitting runners in the proper shoes. If you don’t know of a store, ask around. Most runners can easily recommend the best store with the top fit experts.

Maximum support with cushioning (overpronators) : Wave Paradox

Moderate support with cushioning (moderate overpronators) : Wave Inspire

Maximum cushioning (for underpronators needing extra cushion) : Wave Enigma, Wave Creation and Wave Prophecy

Moderate cushioning (for underpronators) : Wave Rider and Wave Sayonara

Lightweight with cushioning (for underpronators looking for a lighter option) : Wave Hitogami

Posted By: Mizuno USA