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What's the Deal With Pronation?

What's the Deal With Pronation?

"Pronation" may sound like a country inhabited entirely by paid athletes, but it's actually a concept that all amateur runners need to understand. The word refers to the way your foot rolls as it hits the ground, and understanding your pronation type is crucial when choosing a pair of running shoes.

Are you an overpronator or an underpronator? And why does it matter? To find out,


Everyone pronates, since the term refers to the way your foot progresses during a stride, from heel impact to toe push off. But as your foot rolls forward, it can also roll sideways, and that determines the kind of pronator you are.

  • Normal pronation occurs when the foot turns inward by about five percent and shock absorption is distributed equally. If you have normal pronation, you are probably not flat-footed or high-arched, and you can buy a neutral running shoe.
  • Overpronation means that when your foot rolls forward, it turns too far inward. This is common in flatter-footed people, and if you fall into that category, be sure to look for running shoes that offer medium to high stability.
  • Underpronation refers to a foot that doesn't roll far enough inward — anything less than four percent — and this condition often affects runners with high arches. If you underpronate, be sure to look for flexible shoes with extra cushioning.
  • Fit's Tip: To determine your pronation type, take a look at your old running shoes; if they slant inward or out, that could be a sign of over- or underpronation. Better yet, when you go to buy running shoes, ask an employee to analyze your running gait and help you determine what type of shoes you need.


Join The Conversation
hc8706 hc8706 8 years
Kadiya, I also have high arches and overpronate. The only thing that I've found that works is getting orthotics for the high arches and Asics Gel Cumulus sneakers. They are around 90 dollars, but most good running shoes are that expensive.
taylorbath taylorbath 9 years
I have high arches and deal with underpronation- normal for the most part until you factor in my tiny feet. I'm a size 5. Trying to find size 5 shoes used to be a major ordeal, but thanks to the internet and retailers like ZAPPOS that carry a wider range of sizes, I'm finding cushioning shoes in my size more often. Sometimes when I find a style I like, I try to buy multiple pairs/colors. That's what I did for my sneakers. I bought a pair of New Balance 741s that felt so great I went back and bought another pair. They're super comfortable.
sofiaroca sofiaroca 9 years
i underpronate a lot, not only when i run, but when i walk as well, people have told me that i need to correct that because it will deform my column, knees and feet, they already hurt frequently but i have not found a doctor or specialist who could give me a satisfactory treatment. a couple of doctors have prescripted somo sort of molds for the feet to put inside the shoes but they end up hurting even more than usual. anyone has had a similar experience?
QueenSki QueenSki 9 years
Pronation is normal, shoes can help the pronation and a good insole makes all the difference. I really like my berry Superfeet insoles with my Brooks Adrenaline shoe. Everyone has to pronate, but you want to slow down the rate of pronation. I really think going to a running shoe store where they take the time to fit you makes a difference. I know which shoes are cute but they know which shoes will work with my biomechanics and feet. If you are ever near a Fleet Feet get out of your car and go in. They are amazing and will really help you out.
Swedeybebe Swedeybebe 9 years
flames- i would suggest going to your local running specialty store. they usually have you go thru a number of tests to see what your problem areas are, and then they suggest a few pairs of shoes to try. the store i frequent (running revolution in campbell CA, they are awesome!) actually utilizes a treadmill for you to run on, and they use video analysis to help choose a shoe for you.
lovelipgloss lovelipgloss 9 years
Any other good brands for problem feet? I need good arch support. I've looked into New Balance, and I've had some Saucony's but wasn't that impressed.
Kadiya Kadiya 9 years
LOL - I just love these types of articles. I am in a special class of people. I overpronate badly but I also have very high arches. Yes, I know that's not the norm but it is true... just ask my physical therapist. LOL These shoes are useless for me since neutral hurts, shoes made for overpronaters hurt because they are for flatter footed people and the only shoes I've ever seen that I *could* wear are hundreds of dollars.
Swedeybebe Swedeybebe 9 years
i overpronate pretty badly- enough to the point that i get peroneal tendonitis if not running with correct shoes AND added insoles with arch support. i found that brooks adrenalines work best for me, and i use sofsole arch support insoles. without these, i would be in pain! PS- the only time i have ever heard of running on your toes is when you are running up a hill.
TidalWave TidalWave 9 years
@blue_skies: i'm happy for you! and jealous that your Aasics are awesome and mine put me in traumatizing pain. ALSO, run on asphalt, not concrete. Running on the road is a ton better for you than running on a sidewalk. Why do you think paved park roads are always asphalt.
blue-skies blue-skies 9 years
I'm not sure what I do, but I bought a pair of Asics with gel cushioning and my feet feel fine. I've only run outdoors twice now, as my gym shoes were way too flimsy, but I absolutely love it. I was worried that running mostly on concrete/asphalt would be hard on my feet, but I haven't felt anything bad so far. I love my Asics shoes :D They are the most comfortable and supportive shoes I've ever owned.
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
I'm not really sure...
kia kia 9 years
I am neutral even after two knee surgeries. I am really lucky. With my last running shoe purchase I almost went for a shoe with too much structure but ended up getting four gait analyses done on video to determine my foot strike patterns and am really happy with my Asics Gel Nimbus. If you aren't sure be sure to go to a good running store that can help put you in the right shoe.
angelfromlsu angelfromlsu 9 years
Shoes can't correct kinda allows you to cheat. You really need to force yourself to have good form, not run with ankles flopping. Remember, people used to and continue to run with very thin soled shoes and were perfectly fine. I think we were meant to hit midball while running. I never strike with my heels.
TidalWave TidalWave 9 years
junkotokiio: that is a huge debate. most say that is how our bodies are designed to run. however, shoes are designed for us to run heel first. just do what is comfy for you. i think that running ball->heel means less injuries. anyway, i just wanted to say that "stabilization" shoes are bs. I overpronate but every pair of "stabilizing" shoes I have bought that are designed special for overpronators gave me the worst muscle cramps and pains that i have ever experienced running. i actually stopped running for a month because i would just cry thinking about it, since i would be in so much pain but i thought that it was just my running form since i was wearing these special shoes. I decided to ditch the shoes and go to track flats that have no support whatsoever, and my legs liked that a lot better!!
junkotokiio junkotokiio 9 years
Is running on your toes (only the front of the foot) normal??
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