Are you a supinator or pronator?

As I stated in my last post, it is imperative as a runner to establish what type of gait you have and address any deficiencies that are found in the way your feet strike the ground. The terms “over-supination” and “over-pronation” put simply, mean either you are striking the ground too much on the outside of your foot (over-supinate) or the inside of your foot (over-pronate).  Striking the ground unevenly disrupts your body’s ability to absorb shock and will ultimately put unneeded stress on other muscles and joints. Some common injuries that occur from an uneven gait include plantar fasciitis, shin splints, tendontitis of the knee or hip, and stress fractures.

There are several ways to evaluate your gait which I will cover today:

The first of which is to simply look at the tread wear pattern on a used pair of your running shoes. After you’ve put 300-500 miles on a pair of shoes, there should be an obvious wear pattern on the bottom of the shoe. If you notice uneven wear along the inside of the shoe you are most likely over-pronating, if it is worn down along the outside you are probably over-supinating.

Another method of gait analysis  can be done at home as well, follow these directions:

  1. Pour a layer of water into a shallow pan.
  2. Wet the bottom of your foot.
  3. Step onto a paper towel or any surface that will leave an imprint of your foot.
  4. Look at the imprint and match it to one of the arch types below.

Normal arch – After heel strike, this foot type will pronate or roll inward slightly to absorb shock. This is the most common foot type.

Flat arch – This foot type is usually an indication of the excessive inward roll of the foot after heel strike which creates over-pronation.

High arch – This type of foot does not overpronate at all, so its not an effective shock absorber and referred to as over-supination.

These two methods are the simplest and most inexpensive means to gait analysis. However the most effective way to evaluate foot strike, in my opinion, is to find a running specialist who offers “treadmill gait analysis”. What this consists of is the runner (you) being placed on a treadmill and videotaped for a minute or so while running. The videotape is then played back in slow motion so that the specialist can very specifically look at the way your feet hit the ground.

In my next post we will look at over-pronators and what types of shoes, orthotics, and exercises to do. Any questions, feel free to ask!