What is the Difference Between Foot Pronation vs Supination

What is Foot Pronation?

Pronation is how your foot rolls inwards when your foot hits the ground as you run.  What is the difference between foot pronation vs supination?  In a normal stride, your foot should roll inward a bit so that your weight lands on the ball of your foot.

When you run 3 or 4 times, your body weight lands on your feet, so you must land correctly.  If we land properly on our feet when we run, it prevents many injuries; we will go into these in more detail later.

How do we know if we overpronate or supinate? foot pronation vs supination

Water test – Get a bucket of water and a piece of cardboard, stick your feet in the bucket and place them on the cardboard leaving a print.  If you can only see an image of the ball of foot and heel, you are a supinator.  You are an overpronator if you can see a print of your whole foot.  You have a normal arch if you can see an image of most of your foot except for the arch.

Look at your running shoes.  If they wear the arch side on the shoes’ sole, you are an overpronator; if the wear pattern is on the outside edge of your shoes, you supinate.

Gait analysis is a process of determining how our feet react when we run.  Some sports shops do this with a machine, which is most accurate; other people do it with their eyes.


Overpronation means that your foot rolls inwards as you run.  If you overpronate, the outer edge of your heel hits the ground first; then, your foot rolls inwards on the arch.  Overpronation in runners can cause a lot of injuries; these include the following

  • plantar fasciitis
  • shin splints
  • Achilles tendonitis
  • bunions
  • lower back pain
  • IT band syndrome
  • heel pain
  • stress fractures in the lower leg or foot.
  • arch pain
Causes of Overpronation

There are a few causes of overpronation.  There are

  • genetically – some people have overpronation since childhood
  • flat feet – people who have very flat feet or a collapsed arch generally overpronate
  • wear and tear –  overuse of ligaments, especially plantar fasciitis, will lead to overpronation
  • unsupportive or worn footwear –  when shoes don’t fit properly, or when they don’t have proper support, and when worn away on the sole, these can also result in overpronation.
Treatments of overpronation
  • choosing supportive shoes – all major runner manufacturers make runners specifically for people that overpronate.  I have written another article on overpronation running shoes with my recommendations.
  • Wearing orthotics – Orthotics are supports that slip into your shoes or runners, which help prevent overpronation.  It’s straightforward to pick up orthotic supports, but it might be better to get them custom-made as they will be made specifically for your feet.
  • Other runners swear by running barefoot as this helps lift the arch of the foot, as it generally changes the way we run.
  • Doing exercises that will help strengthen the arches and muscles helps overpronation.  These exercises include
    • clamshell – lie on the floor on your side with your knees bent and your legs stacked; keep your feet together, open your legs from your knees, and keep your hips stacked.
    • rolling the feet – stand on your feet and move your weight to the outside of your feet and then roll them back to regular
    • seated calf stretch – sit on a chair with your legs straight out in front with toes pointed, then hinge forward at the waist and reach for your toes


Supination means that your foot rolls outwards as you run.  This can cause many injuries in runners.  These include

Causes of Supination 

There are a few causes of supination.  These are

  • genetically – this can be as a result of a  difference in leg lengths or ankle issues
  • shoes that don’t fit well –
  • very high arches –
  • tight Achilles tendons and calves – this tends to reinforce the problems caused by supination
Treatments for supination
  • choosing the correct supportive shoes – most running shoe manufacturers make shoes for people that suffer from supination.
  • Orthotics – Runners can buy orthotics directly off the shelf, but it may be more beneficial to try and get them custom-made as they will be created for your feet only.
  • Stretching regularly – we would recommend that you do the following stretches regularly.
    • Quad stretch – stand up straight, holding on to a wall with your left hand and catch your right leg by the foot and pull it up towards your bottom, putting all your weight on your left leg, keep both knees together and keep your chest out to get a good stretch.
    • Leg raises – lie on your back on an exercise mat, lift both legs straight up at 90degrees from your hips, or as straight as possible, then drop your legs at the same pace that you raised them, stopping a couple of inches above the ground and repeat.
    • Jumping or skipping rope – try skipping barefoot on a soft carpeted floor.
    • Calf or Achilles tendon stretch – place both hands on a wall, place your right leg a couple of feet behind the left leg keeping both feet pointed forward, and keep your right leg straight while bending your left knee until you feel a stretch in your right calf and ankle.


A neutral runner is a runner that neither overpronates nor supinates.  Instead, they land correctly on their feet as they run.  More than half of all runners are neutral runners.  They buy runners without stabilizing features, so they have a more extensive choice of running shoes.

Final Thoughts

After reading this article on overpronation and supination, I hope you have a much greater understanding of both of these terms.  Until I started running, I had no idea what these meant, but after quite a few injuries from running, it did not take me long to learn.  It is essential to know that just because we overpronate previously doesn’t mean we will always overpronate as our feet change.  I have looked at both treatments, so I hope this article will benefit many people.  If you would like to comment on any other remedies, you may have found helpful, and I would greatly appreciate it.

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