Everyone’s foot supinates and pronates when they walk. In a normal gait, supination is the outward movement of your foot, while pronation is the inward movement. Oversupination or overpronation, however, can lead to tension or strain on other joints and muscles. Oversupination is rare, but is typically linked to high arches. Understanding the symptoms of oversupination can help you to discern if your gait could be causing your muscle pain.
Supination, sometimes called underpronation, places extra stress on the foot, especially on the outside. One indicator that you oversupinate is that the outer edge of your shoe will wear out more quickly so when you place your shoes on a flat surface they lean outward.
Oversupination, or an extra outward movement of the foot when you walk or run, can cause an increase in the rotational force on your shins, knees, and hips. People who have a high level of supination can have pain in their feet, knees, hips, or back. In some cases, oversupination can lead to inversion ankle sprains, heel spurs, or hammertoes. Supination can also lead to iliotibial band syndrome, an overuse injury of the tissue that connects the hip to the knee.
Orthotic insoles can help to treat the symptoms related to supination. Insoles that help support high arches and stabilize the movement of the foot can help balance your gait and take the pressure off your muscles and joints. Heel cups and arch braces can help to correct the movement of your foot and prevent too much outward movement.
If you have a high degree of supination in your gait, doing extra stretches on your calves, hamstrings, and quads before running or other exercise can also help prevent injuries and pulled muscles.
If you are having chronic muscle pain that you suspect is related to supination, visit your doctor or podiatrist to have a foot-strike and running gait analysis. These tests can help to better understand the problem and these professionals can recommend the proper footwear and insole options for you. They might also create an orthotic insole specific for your foot.
Because some degree of supination is a natural part of regular gait, the best prevention is good footwear. To prevent injuries related to oversupination, choose shoes that allow foot flexibility but also support the arches. In athletic shoes, look for a shoe that has a thick sole and plenty of support for the heel and arch. Remember to continue to check the outer edges of your shoes for wear and replace your running shoes regularly. For everyday shoes, make sure there is plenty of room to accommodate your natural gait and consider a discrete arch brace to help support your foot.
Remember, supination doesn’t have to be a problem. Take preventative steps to keep your gait from putting too much strain on your muscles and you’ll keep the spring in your step.