Over Pronation

Over Pronation does it exist?

So I was recently asked about over pronation. I thought that my blog might be a good forum to begin this discussion.  I will probably break this subject down into numerous blog posts as there is a lot to discuss on this topic. I will tackle the actual definition first, then I will go on to talk about the controversy that surrounds this topic. 

Over pronation, does it really exist, and if so is it really bad?  I mean the running shoe industry has created a whole classification of shoes based almost exclusively on this one single variable.  I recently attended the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine (AAPSM)conference, and at the conference, a half a day was spent on this term. 

Pronation can be defined as the rolling inward of the foot as it comes into contact with the ground during the gait cycle.   Most runners (or about 98% of you) pronate, meaning landing on the outside of the heel as the foot contacts the ground and then rolling inward from the heel strike to toe off.   Here is a little known fact for you, only 2% of runners supinate, landing on the inside of the heel during contact phase and then rolling out during toe off.  Another way to put it is the rolling from the inside/out instead of outside/in.

Also, those of you who do pronate (most of you runners), will pronate to different degrees depending on how your foot, ankle and leg work together (our body’s bio-mechanics) during the gait cycle. Without getting to technical, pronation is simply the body’s way of dissipating the forces associated when the foot strikes the ground during the gait cycle.  So pronation spreads the ground’s reactive forces during contact phase over a large group of muscles and tendons and bones. If you did not pronate during contact phase of the gait cycle, your foot’s contact with the ground would cause one intense thud which would likely break your ankle.

So, is the industry’s wrong to classify the degree at which you pronate?  And is there a threshold where you go from normal pronation to over pronation?  That’s the million dollar question!  These running sneakers that are designed to “correct” this so called issue of over-pronation, are they wrong?  Are they actually causing more issues than they were designed to fix?  The truth is that there is not one simple answer.

Stay tuned for my next post where I will go over some of the philosophy on this subject.