All About Oversupination
Posted by Jenn F. on Friday, June 15th, 2012
Remember yesterday when we talked about the oft-used-in-running term overpronation? That was fun. Today let’s cover a related word, supination.
First, a review of overpronation. Pronation is the way your foot naturally rolls inward a little bit to help your feet absorb shock as you stand, walk, or run. Overpronation is when a person’s foot rolls in more than normal, causing strain not only on their feet, but also on the muscles that run from their feet up their legs. The result is an increase in injuries to their feet and legs.
Supination is when your foot rolls outward. Like pronation, supination is also part of your natural motion. When you supinate, you lift your arch and shift your weight to the outer edge of your foot.
Supination can be broken down into three parts:
- Inversion, or when your sole turns inward;
- Plantarflexion, or when you point your toes away;
- Adduction, or when you point your toes across your body (think on a diagonal).
So while you’ll often hear people use the term supination in terms of running as if it’s the opposite of overpronation, it’s actually not. The problem is oversupination, or when a person’s foot rolls outward too much; you could also probably describe this as under pronation.
(Note: I’ve seen it as both oversupination and over supination, with an occasional over-supination thrown in for good measure. I’m sticking with oversupination.)
Oversupination isn’t as common as overpronation. But like its more popular opposite, oversupination can also lead to injuries. The foot isn’t able to absorb shock as well, forcing your leg to deal with it. It also causes the whole leg–thigh, knee, and shin–to twist, making those muscles more vulnerable to strains. Typical oversupination injuries include:
- Plantar fasciitis
- Shin splints
- Sprained ankles
- Stress fractures (the tibia, or smaller leg bone; the calcaneus, or heel; the metatarsals, or long foot bones)
You can test for oversupination pretty much the same way as you test for overpronation, just looking for different results. Do a “wet foot test,” where you look at your wet footprint–you can do this on a piece of paper, or make it a project for a day at a sandy beach. If there’s only a thin line connecting the forefoot to the heel, or no mark of any connection , than you may be an oversupinator. Another easy way to check for oversupination is to look at the soles of your shoes. Noticeable wear on the outside edge of the sole as compared to the outside edge of a sole is a sign of oversupination.
You can also find running stores that will analyze your gait, or a podiatrist at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900) will also be able to accurately diagnose any running problems such as oversupination.
What can you do to solve the problem? Since more shoes are made for overpronation, you should make sure you tell employees at running stores that you oversupinate so they can point you towards shoes that are made specifically for your foot motion. Look for shoes that provide some additional shock absorbency and stability, but not too much–shoes that overstabilize can be a problem because they tend to be too stiff and heavy. Lighter shoes are better. And of course, there are people who say that barefoot running or minimalist shoes will correct both oversupination and overpronation problems. Podiatrists at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900) can custom fit orthotics to help correct the imbalance. You may also be able to get some help from a running coach who can help you adjust your style.Finally, stretching may help cut down on the injuries associated with oversupination.
Hooray! You now are a pronation expert, both the over and the under. If, however, you’re still unsure of whether you’re an over-pronator or an over-supinator, or you have any other foot issue, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. Katherine Lai, and Dr. Ryan Minara have helped thousands of people get back on their feet.
If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.