Orthotics & Insoles for Overpronation & Oversupination
Whenever you're in motion, whether you're walking, running or hiking, your body performs a sequence of predictable movements designed to help you place one foot in front of the other. These movements are also referred to as the gait cycle or, more simply put, your stride.
Your stride is made up of various individual patterns that are closely intertwined; one small change can have a great effect. For example, when you adjust your stride because your toe has a blister, you also affect the relationship between ankle and knee, knee and hip, hip and spine, and so forth. Over time, incorrect alignment can cause long term damage, which is why it's important to address pains and aches early on before they have a chance to affect other parts of the body. But while some conditions, such as a blister, are temporary and easily treatable, other conditions can be more complex in nature; for example, how you pronate.
The natural motion of your foot while walking or running is called "pronation". Many people exhibit neutral pronation, which is marked by a roll that is neither too far inside nor outside of the normal range of motion.
Pronation occurs during the gait cycle, when your foot moves to push off the ground to help you take the next step. During this portion of the stride, a normal arch will collapse very slightly to help your body absorb the impact of your stride. A normal pronator moves through this motion very quickly since this collapse is so small, and is quick to shift his or her weight forward to continue the cycle of motion. Therefore, people who pronate normally are usually also fairly efficient runners because they don't waste a lot of motion.
Understanding how you pronate is important, since it can help you to become proactive about your health and any potential pain or discomfort you may have from walking or running.
When we refer to "overpronation", we're talking about an inward roll that causes a collapse in the arches that extends beyond the normal range of motion associated with pronation. In overpronation, the foot rolls into the arch, overly flattening your feet.
Overpronation leads to very specific injuries because of a regular disruption in the gait cycle. People who overpronate tend experience pain and fatigue in their big toe and second toe, because these two digits are overworked with each step in which the person's weight is unevenly distributed. People who overpronate also experience instability in the foot and tend to have higher occurrences of knee pain and shin splints.
Flattened and collapsing arches can be present at a young age or can occur later in life, and without intervention, a person who overpronates will only experience an increase in conditions such as shin splints, heel pain, bunions, plantar fasciitis, IT band syndrome, back pain, and tendonitis.
Underpronation (aka Oversupination)
Similar to the overpronators who collapse inward more than is acceptable during a normal stride, oversupinators can't stop themselves from rolling too much in the opposite direction. In a normal gait cycle, supination occurs ever so slightly during the push-off phase of the gait cycle, when the heel lifts off the ground and you begin to propel yourself forward. However, in an underpronator, this movement is exaggerated.
In underpronation, the inward movement that's normally responsible for absorbing and distributing the shock of your step equally is too small and becomes concentrated on the outside edge of the foot. This leads to inefficient distribution of weight as well as an altered push-off phase, leaving the smaller toes working hardest. People who struggle with oversupination tend to be those with higher arches. Runners who underpronate experience pain in the arch and heel, stress fractures and overuse injuries including strains.
Do You Overpronate, Oversupinate or is Your Stride Neutral?
The most common extreme is overpronation. This is when the medial arch of the foot collapses and the major joints in the foot can subluxate, or hyperextend. Over time, repetitive subluxation can lead to pain, damage, and in extreme cases, diagnoses like posterior tibial tendon disorder and adult-acquired flat foot.
In addition to any physical symptoms you might be noticing, a quick and easy way to confirm your suspicions about how you pronate is by looking at your shoes for signs of wear and tear. Use your everyday walking shoes or your running shoes to determine your gait; a telltale sign over overpronation is a sole that is most worn on the inside sole near the big toe and the ball of the foot.
Because underpronators run and walk on the outside of the heel, their shoe wear pattern is also unique. Oversupination causes an uneven wear pattern, which is marked by a more rapid breakdown on the outer edge of the shoe at the toe and the heel. Typically, people who underpronate go through shoes quicker than the average person, and because the wear pattern tends to be so extreme, continuing to wear a broken down shoe strongly reinforces the incorrect gait pattern. This further exacerbates the issue, potentially leading to stress fractures from ankle instability, shin pain and other conditions.
In normal pronation, the foot comes down to form a stable platform, causing the person to strike evenly with the heel and push off slightly from the big toe. This creates a very even wear pattern in the front and the back of the shoe.
When the foot is functioning normally, there is a certain degree of pronation and supination in the gait cycle. Pronation is a combination of dorsiflexion, abduction, and eversion, where supination is a combination of plantarflexion, adduction, and inversion. In general, pronation is the part of gait where the foot is landing on the ground, and the weight of the body is moving over it, where supination is when the foot is lifting off the ground, and the weight is transferring to the other foot. These motions have their happy medium, as well as their extreme versions, which can cause damage and deformity over time.
Correctly sized foot orthotics stabilize the foot during gait, reducing overpronation, oversupination, and the chance of developing ailments that can affect the entire body.
Being a normal pronator doesn’t make your gait cycle perfect. There are various reasons why even a person with a neutral gait might benefit from stabilizing insoles, such as being a heavier weight or recovering from injury.
Our selection of orthotic inserts are designed for all levels of pronation. Our inserts place the foot in a neutral position to correct the gait cycle effectively and comfortably, whether you over or underpronate.