Finding the right running shoes

WHAT IS PRONATION?

Pronation is the way the foot rolls inward when you walk and run. It is part of the natural movement that helps the lower leg deal with shock.

Pronation occurs at the joint below the ankle, the subtalar joint, just after the foot lands on the ground. Some people pronate more (overpronation) or less (underpronation) than others.

Running shoes are designed today specifically for different pronation patterns. When you pick your next pair of running shoes, your pronation type is a very important factor in your choice.

UNDERPRONATION

Underpronation, also known as supination, is when the foot doesn’t pronate much. The outer or lateral side of the heel hits the ground at an increased angle, and little or no normal pronation occurs, resulting in a large transmission of shock through the lower leg. This lateral loading of the foot continues for the entire stance phase of gait, further affecting running efficiency.

OVERPRONATION

Overpronation is when the foot rolls in excessively, or at a time when it should not, for instance late in the stance phase of gait. In this case much weight is transferred to the inner or medial side of the foot, and as the runner moves forward the load is borne by the inner edge rather than the ball of the foot. This destabilises the foot, which will attempt to regain stability by compensating for the inward movement. In a kind of chain reaction, this in turn affects the biomechanical efficiency of the leg, especially the knee and hip.

NEUTRAL PRONATION

You are likely to be a neutral pronator if the soles of your shoes show wear in an S-shaped pattern, from the outer (lateral) heel to the big toe. When you have a normal pronation pattern you can run in a wide variety of shoes, but specialised neutral running shoes offering cushioning and support are most suitable.

SEVERE OVERPRONATION

Severe overpronation is when the foot rolls excessively at a time when it shouldn’t, for instance late in the stance phase of gait, or just while standing. As it’s the case with all overpronation, a disproportionate amount of weight is transferred to the inner or medial side of the foot disrupting the balance of the runner. This destabilises the foot, which will attempt to regain stability by compensating for the inward movement. Severe overpronators should seek professional advice as this condition could contribute to long-term discomfort or injury.