What Does Pronation Mean in Shoes? Difference Between Overpronation & Supination

What Does Pronation Mean in Shoes

Shoe shopping can be a daunting task. Finding the right pair of shoes that fit your foot and your gait is essential. Since everyone’s feet are different, finding the right shoe for each runner is crucial. What works well for one person may not work well for another, and vice versa. In addition, different shoes are designed for different types of runners and offer different levels of support.

Pronation is one factor you’ll want to consider when choosing shoes. Unfortunately, many runners are unaware of their pronation type, leading to shoes that don’t suit their running style. Researchers have found that around 4 in 5 runners risk injury while wearing shoes that do not fit their particular running style.

What is Pronation?

Pronation is the natural inward movement of the foot and ankle. It occurs when the foot and ankle roll inwards as the heel strikes the ground. This motion plays a vital role in distributing weight evenly across the foot and helps to provide shock absorption.

There are three types of pronation: overpronation, underpronation, and neutral pronation. Each type describes how your foot lands as you walk or run. Knowing which type of pronator you are is essential when choosing a running or walking shoe because it will help to prevent injuries and ensure that the shoe provides the correct level of support.

Typical (Neutral) Pronation

Normal pronation is the foot’s natural inward roll as it hits the ground. This happens when the big toe and second toe help push off the ground, providing power and forward motion. Neutral pronation is natural for your foot to land when you walk or run. This means that as your heel hits the ground, your foot will flatten, and the weight of your body will be transferred to the outer side. This means you can run in any neutral running shoes without worrying about arch support or stability.

People with normal pronation tend to have less common injuries because their feet can absorb shock effectively.


Overpronation is when you roll the foot more than 15 degrees inward or downward, which can cause iliotibial band syndrome (an injury to the ligament that runs down the outside of your thigh). Overpronation is a condition that can cause pain in the foot and ankle. It is caused by the ankle rolling inward and downward when it should be pushing off with the toes. Overpronation is a condition that can lead to various problems, the most common being shin splints and knee pain.

When someone overpronates, their foot rolls inward too much when they walk or run, which stresses the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the lower leg. This can cause pain and inflammation in those areas. If you are experiencing any of these problems, it might be time to invest in a good shoe solution that can help correct your gait and alleviate some of the pain.

Runners with flat feet often wear shoes with a more durable outsole to help them offset the issue. Their natural stride pattern causes them to strike the ground harder on the inside of their foot, leading to problems such as shin splints and plantar fasciitis. Buying shoes designed for runners who overpronate can help correct this issue and bring you back to a neutral stance.

Read more: what does Heel Drop mean in running shoes


Supination (which is also called underpronation)is the opposite of pronation and occurs when the foot rolls outward too much. This causes the foot arch to collapse and puts excessive stress on the muscles, ligaments, and tendons outside the ankle and lower leg. Supination typically happens to people with rigid arches and a higher body mass index (BMI).

Supination is a term used to describe the way your foot rolls when you walk or run. When you supinate, your foot doesn’t flatten enough at toe-off and instead continues to rotate until the heel strikes the ground. This places stress on the foot and can lead to problems for people with high arches or other biomechanical issues.

Supination is a foot condition that can cause injuries, such as ankle injury, iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS), Achilles tendonitis, and plantar fasciitis.

Runners with high arches aren’t usually absorbing the stress of the ground, so they need footwear with extra cushioning and arch support.

The Three Levels of Pronation

How to Find out Your Pronation Type?

You can determine your level of pronation by looking at the soles of your old or current running shoes. If you see a lot of wear on the inside edge of your shoe, you are likely over-pronating. If you see a lot of wear on the outside edge of your shoe, you are likely under-pronating. If there is minimal wear on either side, you are likely in neutral pronation.

Also, you can determine your level of pronation by doing a wet foot test. To do this test, get a bowl of water and place your bare foot in it. Move your foot around so that all of it is wet, and then look at the footprint it leaves in the water. If most of your footprint is on the inside edge, you overpronate; if most is on the outside edge, you underpronate; if there is an equal amount on both sides, you have neutral pronation.

If you are unsure which type of pronator you are, you may get assessed at a specialty running store. When a professional analyzes your feet, they will likely look at your gait pattern. This is how you walk and can indicate areas of stress on your feet. They will also be able to tell you what type of pronation you have and help determine the best type of shoe for you.

Types of Running Shoes According to Pronation Level

  • Neutral Runners: Runners that do not overpronate should choose neutral running shoes.
  • Overpronators: Overpronation occurs when the foot rolls inward too far. The suitable corrective pairs for overpronators are often lighter, have a lower heel drop, and provide most of the cushioning in the heel to help correct foot posture while running. Stability running shoes and motion-control running shoes can assist in reducing overpronation.
  • Under Pronators: Supination (or underpronation) is when the foot rolls too far outward on the other end of the spectrum. Supinators benefit from neutral running shoes with additional cushioning on the outside.


Can overpronation be corrected with exercise?

You can do exercises to correct overpronation and reduce these loading forces. For those with overpronation, a physical therapist may offer strengthening activities. Exercises include heel stretches, Hip CARS, Clamshells, Lateral Band Walks, Glute Bridges, Calf/Ankles Raises and Lunges, Tennis ball rolls, Chain calf stretch,  and Toe raises that can assist support their feet’s arches as well as the muscles that support them.

Read also: top shoes for flat feet runners

What are treatment options for overpronation?

There are a variety of treatment options for overpronation. The best option for most people is custom foot orthotics. These inserts are made specifically for your feet and help correct the alignment of your feet and ankles. Other treatment options include changing shoes, braces or supports, and physical therapy.

When overpronation is severe, ankle bracing can be very helpful. The ankle brace will help to keep the ankle in proper alignment and reduce the amount of pronation.

Physiotherapy is a great place to start if you are looking for treatment options for overpronation. Physiotherapists can help build muscle strength and address weak areas throughout the body, including the foot and the leg. This will help to correct any misalignment in the foot and ankle that may be causing your overpronation.

Can supination cause knee pain?


Excessive supination can result in stress higher up the body, plantar fasciitis, and ankle pain. Knee, hip, and even back discomfort may result from this.

Why do my shoes wear unevenly?

Uneven wear on your shoe heels is an indication that something is wrong. A variety of conditions, such as high or flattened arches, a lack of muscle strength, poor posture, or restricted joint motion might cause it. It’s also possible that abnormal foot structures like clubfoot are to blame.

Can overpronation cause sciatica?

Yes. Overpronation can cause low back pain and sciatica.

Final Thoughts

Pronation is the foot’s natural inward roll as it hits the ground. It is one of three motions that make up the gait cycle. Pronation is not bad, but overpronation or underpronation can cause problems in the feet and ankles. This is why it’s crucial to get a gait analysis to determine your pronation category. Knowing your pronation level is essential to get comfortable running shoes that provide support, durability, and flexibility.

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