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running feet

Published on January 29th, 2018 | by Start Fitness

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Understanding Pronation and The Running Shoes You Should Go For

What is pronation

Pronation is the natural movement of the human body. In running the term refers to the way that the foot rolls inwards for impact distribution upon landing. This is vital for proper shock absorption and for pushing evenly from the front of the foot at the end of the gait cycle.

The size of a person’s foot arch can affect the natural movement of pronation and cause them to either underpronate or overpronate. In normal pronation the foot rolls inwards at about 15%. The foot also comes in complete contact with the ground and can support your body weight without any problems.

It is important to understand pronation and what type of pronator you are to get the right fitting running shoe that will support your arch and pronation tendencies.

How does this affect the runner?

Underpronation and Overpronation can affect a runner’s technique and form. If the correct shoe type isn’t worn runners are more susceptible to injuries such as stress fractures, muscle pain, calluses and much more.

The different forms of pronation

There are three types of pronation to take into consideration. These include Underpronators, Neutral Pronators and Overpronators.

Underpronators:

underpronator

Credit – http://www.asics.com

Underpronation also known as Supination is the insufficient rolling of the foot after landing. When you overpronate the heel is makes first contact with the ground but the foot rolls at less than 15%. This results in the force of impact being concentrated to a smaller area of the foot (the outside part) rather than being evenly distributed.

Underpronators are susceptible to a range of injuries…

  • Iliotibial Band Syndrome: Swelling and pain on the outside of the knee caused from damage to the Iliotibial band, a ligament that runs down the outside of the thigh.
  • Achilles Tendinitis: The overuse of the Achilles tendon causing pain in the back of the leg and above the heel.
  • Plantar Fasciitis: Inflammation of a thick band of tissue running across the bottom of your foot. This causes a stabbing sensation and pain in the heel area.

Runners can help to prevent these injuries by completing extra stretches of the calves, hamstrings, quads and the iliotibial band. They can also ensure that they wear a running shoe suited to the underpronator and that they are replaced once worn.

Neutral Pronators:

neutral pronator

Credit – http://www.asics.com

A Neutral Pronator is where the foot rolls as it should. This type of pronation is best for runners and is the least likely to be struck by injury. As mentioned earlier a Neutral Pronators foot will roll inward at about 15% and make complete contact with the ground for the even distribution of impact forces.

Overpronators:

overpronator

Credit – http://www.asics.com

Overpronation is where the foot rolls inward more than the normal 15%. This causes the foot and ankle to have trouble stabilising the body and prevents the even distribution of impact forces. At the end of the gait cycle the foot pushes off the ground using mainly the big toe and the second toe, meaning that they must do all the hard work.

Overpronators are susceptible to a range of injuries…

  • Stress and tightness to the muscles
  • Calluses: An area of skin that becomes thick and hard due to repeated friction and pressure.
  • Bunions: A bony bump that forms on the joint where the big toe is.
  • Runners Knee: Irritation of the kneecap where it rests on the thighbone. This causes sharp and sudden pain.
  • Plantar Fasciitis: Inflammation of a thick band of tissue running across the bottom of your foot. This causes a stabbing sensation and pain in the heel area.
  • Achilles Tendinitis: The overuse of the Achilles tendon causing pain in the back of the leg and above the heel.

Runners can help to prevent these injuries by doing extra stretches and by wearing a shoe suited to the Overpronator.

Recognising your pronation type

To find out what your pronation type is there are many things you can do.

Video Gait Analysis:

A video Gait Analysis is where a video is taken of the runners feel while running on a treadmill. The footage is then slowed down and analysed to determine how the foot is rolling. The footage will then be explained to you and advice will be given on the type of footwear you should have.

3D Foot Mapping:

This is an advanced version of a Video Gait Analysis. A video is taken as usual, but the addition of lasers and micro cameras allows the creation of a detailed 3D foot image. From this certain information can be obtained including arch height and alignment of the Achilles with the leg. A detailed scan like this helps runners to find a shoe suited to them and discover what could be causing recurrent injuries.

Check Wear Patterns on Shoes:

The wear patterns on your shoes are a good indication as to what sport of pronator a runner is.

  • Underpronators: The outside of the shoe will show the most wear. When the shoe is placed on a flat surface there may be a slight outward tilt.
  • Neutral Pronators: Wear on the sole of the shoe will appear in a S shaped pattern from the outer heel to the big toe. When the shoe is placed on a flat surface there may be no tilt at all.
  • Overpronators: The inside of the heel and under the ball of the foot shows the most wear. This is particularly noticeable on the big toe. When the shoe is placed on a flat surface there may be an inward tilt.

Seek Guidance from An Instore Expert:

Visit our Start Fitness store and speak to a member of staff in the shoe department. Our staff are trained on pronation and able to assist in finding the right shoe.

Footwear you should be using based on your pronation

There are a huge range of running shoes to choose from. Some are suited to the Overpronator and others to the Underpronator or Neutral Pronator.

Underpronator Footwear:

Underpronators need cushioned running shoes to help prevent shock related injuries. Cushioning should be focused on the midsole, along the outside of the shoe to counteract the outward roll of the foot and in the heel. Running shoes with curved lasts are also good as well as lightweight trainers for better foot motion and flexible trainers.

Neutral Pronator Footwear:

gel nimbus 20

A runner with a normal pronation pattern can wear a wide variety of running shoes. there are however specialised neutral running shoes that offer cushioning and support. Cushioning in the shoe helps to promote natural foot motion and supports the runner.

Overpronator Footwear:

brooks adrenaline gts 18

The Overpronator needs a shoe that’s offer structure and support. This type of shoe helps to distribute the impact of running more evenly to minimise pronation. Medial support extended to the heel is ideal as well as firm midsoles for arch support. Runners may also want to look at running shoes with straight or semi curved lasts. Severe overpronators can consider motion control shoes that offer extra cushioning.

Why this is important

It is important to wear the right running shoe to prevent injuries, maintain proper body alignment and to get the most out of a run.


Written By Start Fitness