Running - Knowledge

Know Your Feet and Pronation

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Running is something that brings happiness and satisfaction to millions of people around the world. Whether we run to compete in the Olympics, run to test our limits, run to free our mind, or just run for the sheer joy of it, we must make sure that this wonderful experience does not get hampered by injuries like pronation, that can be prevented. Injury-free running should be the prime goal of any runner. Staying injury free keeps us motivated and makes running much more enjoyable.

In this article, let’s understand how our feet and their alignment with our legs can be a cause of injuries and how we can prevent them.

Our feet are the basic foundation of any running form. It is thus extremely important to understand one’s feet to avoid the possible injuries that stem from these forms. One of the major problems in this foundation occurs because of pronation. Pronation is a major reason for injuries among runners in spite of having methods in place to correct it. This is because most of the beginner runners are not aware of such a problem. So let’s first understand what pronation is.

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What is Pronation?

Pronation is the rolling of the foot when it strikes the ground, to reduce the pressure on one part of the foot and redistribute it on the entire sole. Let’s try to simplify what that means.

While running, if a particular side of the runner’s foot touches the ground first and then rolls so that their entire foot goes on to make contact with the ground, they are pronating. In this case, the runner is prone to injury and must use a correction in order to prevent this rolling motion.

Types of Pronation

Let’s have a look at the basic types of pronation:

1. Overpronation

In this case, the person lands on the outer side of the foot and goes on to roll the foot inward during each step. This causes the entire leg, up to the hip, to twist inward. This type generally occurs in people who are flat-footed or have a weak arch that straightens on landing.

2. Under Pronation (also called as Supination)

A supinated runner lands on the inner side of their foot and goes on to roll outward during each step. In this case, the entire leg will twist outward.

3. Neutral

Neutral runners land with their feet parallel to the ground, and there is no rolling motion after contact with the ground. Hence, there is no twist in the leg and these runners never suffer from injuries due to pronation.

The red dots in the pictures below show the contact between the foot and the ground in the different cases of pronation.

Types of Pronation
Types of Pronation: (Source)

Effects of Pronation

So how exactly does pronation injure runners? When the foot rolls on the ground with every step, the leg has to adjust to that motion by twisting itself. These continuous twisting and untwisting motions cause many repetitive stresses which result in the following injuries:

  1. Repetitive stress on the shin bones which results in shin splints.
  2. Continuous inward and outward motion of the motion of the knee causes knee pain.
  3. The hip, which has to repeatedly stabilise this twisting motion, also gets stressed which causes hip pain.
Effects of Pronation
Consequences of Pronation: (Source)

As seen from the image above, due to this unstable foundation of the feet the entire leg, up to the hip, is under constant stress. It is thus important to correct this foundation and avoid possible injuries.

Preventing Pronation

To prevent the twisting motion of the leg, we must ensure that we stop the rolling motion of our feet. To do this, we must use a correction in our shoes to stabilise our feet. Most shoe companies have shoes which provide built-in arch supports to prevent feet from rolling. Some famous shoe brands, like Asics, provide models for different types of pronation on their website. Also, upon consultation with experts, they can provide custom made insoles that are made to support the runner’s feet perfectly.

To further reduce the risk of injury, we can practice arch strengthening exercises that can prevent the arch from flattening after contact with the ground, which in turn provides support to stop the rolling motion of our feet. Some arch strengthening exercises are explained here .

So don’t let these injuries take away your motivation of running. With a little effort, and a little research to Correct Your Running Technique , you can avoid injuries and enjoy running to the fullest.

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