Pronation: it’s the inward rolling movement your foot makes as it hits the ground. Runner’s World explains that pronation is your body’s way of absorbing shock, and everyone’s feet have some degree of pronation.
The amount of pronation in your feet varies based on several factors. One of the biggest contributing factors to pronation is the height of the arch in your feet. If your feet have a “normal” amount of arch, you’re called a normal pronator. Your foot will roll inward about 6 to 10 degrees, optimally distributing and dissipating the ground’s impact before your foot pushes off again for the next step.
For normal amounts of pronation, you’ll do best with a running shoe that features a small amount of stability. Features to look for include insoles that cushion and provide support.
If you have low arches, or “flat feet,” you will tend to overpronate. This means that your foot rolls inward more than 10 degrees, leading to less effective shock absorption. Overpronators also tend to push off for the next step with primarily the big toe and next toe rather than with the entire foot. Overpronation will cause the inside edge of your shoes to wear sooner than the outside edge.
The extra foot motion caused by overpronation can lead to a wide variety of foot issues, from calluses and bunions to plantar fasciitis and even Achilles tendonitis and knee pain.
In a running shoe, those who overpronate should select a style designed specially for feet with little arch. Look for styles with external controls and dense materials that limit foot movement while running. You can also improve your foot’s pronation by adding orthotics and arch supports with pronation control to your running shoes. There are also shoes with a Progressive Diagonal Rollbar that is specifically designed for pronation control.
High arches can lead to underpronation, also known as supination. If you overpronate, your foot rolls inward less than 6 degrees when you take a step. The impact is focused more on the outside part of the foot, and your push-off for the next step will be borne by mostly your smaller, outside toes. If you supinate, the outer edges of your shoes’ heels will wear faster than the inner edges.
Supination has its problems just as overpronation does, notably plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis and iliotibial band syndrome.
Good running shoes for feet that underpronate include those that are lightweight and cushioning, since these allow more foot motion and help to absorb impact forces. Also check for shoes that offer flexibility along the shoe’s inner side.