Do you notice something feels off when you walk or run? If you find your weight tends to roll onto the outer edges of your feet, you’re likely suffering from supination. Supination (also known as under pronation) can be the result of having a naturally high-arching foot, ill-fitting running shoes, muscle weakness, or previous injuries. Since it places excessive strain on the ankles and outer toes, it can lead to frequent ankle rolls and strains. Take a look at how to correct supination with our best tips!
Supination vs Pronation: What’s the Difference?
Pronation and supination refer to the foot’s natural inward and outward movements when walking or running. These movements enable the feet and ankles to move properly and walk without pain or discomfort. However, you may find your feet pronate or supinate more than they should, leaving you with an awkward or painful gait.
Pronation is the foot’s tendency to roll inward as it makes contact with the ground. For most people, the entire foot barely touches the ground before you push off from it. Over pronation (when the foot rolls inward) places excessive weight on the side of the foot, increasing your risk of injury.
Supination is the opposite of pronation. It’s an outward rolling that causes the foot to rise above the ground as you walk. In a normal step, your foot should pronate a bit so that your weight is on the ball of your foot. Then you push off your big toe. With supination, most of the weight falls on the outside of your foot and you push off from your outer toes instead. It can place excessive strain on the ankle and outer toes, causing the ankle to roll or sprain. It can also lead to knee stress and pain, back and hip pain, and plantar fasciitis.
What Causes Supination?
Most people with excessive supination have an inherited problem with the structure of their feet. Inherited traits include differences between the lengths of the legs, width of the foot, and ankle stability. The shape of the foot’s arch may also increase the risk of supination. For example, runners with high arches are more prone to supination than others.
The wrong type of shoe- especially rigid or tight shoes, can lead to supination, as can wearing shoes that are worn out or have no arch support. Poor form when exercising can cause certain muscles and bones to overcompensate, leading to supination. Old injuries can also result in instability and weakness in bones and soft tissue, which can put you at risk of supination.
Certain lifestyle factors can also lead to supination, including being sedentary, a restricted range of motion, standing for long periods of time, stiffness due to aging or arthritis, and too much exercise.
7 Signs of Foot Supination
- Shoe wear, mostly on the outer edges
- Weight rolling to the outer edges of your foot when you walk or run
- Little or no visible arch when you make a footprint
- Frequent ankle rolls or sprains
- Shin pain or shin splints
- Tighter calf and achilles
- Stabbing pain on the underside of your foot
How to Correct Supination
1. Calf Stretch
Stretching your calf will relieve the strain in the feet and help realign your supinated foot. Place your hands on the wall, moving one leg back, a few feet behind the other. Keep both feet firmly on the ground. Keeping the back leg straight, bend the front knee forward. You should feel a stretch in the calf muscle and ankle of the back leg. Hold for 30 seconds, and repeat three times on each leg.
2. Shin Splint Stretch
If you experience shin splints due to your supine, try this stretch (also known as the tibialis anterior stretch). Stand barefoot with your hands against the wall, and one foot a little towards the back. Bend your front knee slightly. Move your back foot so that the top of your toes bend towards the ground. Bend your front leg slowly until you feel your shin muscle stretch. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat on the other foot.
3. Hip and Glute Strengthening Exercises
Hip and glute strengthening exercises can help improve the stability of your ankles and feet, reducing supination strain. These exercises include step-ups, side steps with a resistance band, speed skaters, deadlifts with a resistance band, side leg raises, and the clam. Improving your glute strength will also help stabilize the hip and improve foot position. Do these exercises regularly to help correct supination.
4. Plantar Fascia Stretch
The plantar fascia is the ligament that connects your heel and toes. Excessive supination can lead to excessive strain on the plantar fascia, resulting in a condition called plantar fasciitis. To do this stretch, sit on the ground with your legs straight out in front of you. Place a towel around your foot, just under your toes (hold the ends of the towel in each hand, with your hands above your knees). Pull the towel back so that your foot stretches toward you. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat two to four times on each foot. You can do this up to five times a day.
5. Jump Rope
Jumping rope will help retrain your body on how it interacts with the ground. You can practice jump rope with bare feet on a carpeted or soft floor to reorient how your weight hits the ground. It requires your feet to land in a proper, flat position since it doesn’t incorporate the rotational motion aspects of running. Light jump rope is also a great warm up for other activities.
6. Use an Insole
Supination can be corrected with orthopaedic insoles that help prevent your foot from rolling outward. Insoles support your feet from beneath and promote a natural, equal distribution of pressure across your foot. Look for insoles with lateral support, or support that runs down the outside of your foot. Insoles will help your feet and ankles work at optimum efficiency and help prevent alignment issues in your body.
7. Wear Proper Footwear
Proper footwear will keep the foot properly aligned and supported in the heel, arch, and ankle areas while you walk and run. It’s especially important to wear proper footwear during high-impact activities like jogging, sports, or exercise classes.
You should always wear your correct shoe size, make sure they’re not too big or small, and that there’s room for your toes. If you’re unsure of your shoe size, you can visit a shoe store to get properly fitted. Your shoes should be comfortable and closely fit the contours of your feet without being excessively tight. They should have thick, flexible soles with plenty of tread, and a layer of cushioning throughout to help absorb impact.
If you’re dealing with supination, try these tips, stretches and exercises to correct it.
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