The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Getting to the Bottom of Pain: Study Asks if Foot Pronation Causes Running Injuries

Posted by on Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

New York podiatrists at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine are always reading up on the latest research to provide patients with the best possible care. A new study published in The British Journal of Sports Medicine aims to debunk the myth that pronation directly causes running injuries. “Pronation” refers to the foot’s tendency to flatten and roll inward as it lands. Everyone’s foot pronates to a certain degree to absorb shock and offload the stress of the body’s weight. Yet, there have been widespread concerns that pronating too much (or even too little) causes pain and injury. There is still much we don’t know about the inner workings of the gait cycle, but what we now know is that injuries result from a combination of factors, and it takes more than the purchase of a fancy “motion-control” shoe to prevent harm.

pronation running injuries
Pronation and supination may not be as big a problem as was once thought, say Danish researchers. Image Source: Wikimedia.org

Study Findings

Danish researchers looked at 927 healthy adults ranging from 18 to 65 years of age. Each volunteer’s foot was profiled using elaborate measurement systems along with visual exams to assess pronation. They then divided the participants into several groups: severe underpronation, underpronation, neutral pronation, overpronation, and severe overpronation. All participants were given the same model of lightweight, neutral running shoes and a GPS to track running mileage. All injuries were analyzed by their medical team. Over the course of the study, 300 confirmed injuries were observed. Contrary to popular belief, runners who overpronated or underpronated were not more likely to get hurt than those with a neutral gait. The findings mirrored earlier experiments that found special, motion-controlled shoes did not reduce running injury risk.

Risk Factors For Running Injuries

Instead, researchers found that those who covered at least 600 miles over the course of the year were more likely to be injured. Other factors to consider include:

– Body mass: One study found that a BMI over 30 was associated with a greater rate of injury, while a BMI under 20 was protective.

– Training: While tempo work helps runners move faster on race day, it is also associated with four times the injury risk, according to one study.

– Behavior: “Type B” (easygoing, laidback) runners were found to have more sports injuries in a recent study.

– Age: Runners between the ages of 45 and 65 find that their tissues are less forgiving than they were at a younger age.

– Previous injuries: Healed tissues are at greater risk for injury and alteration of gait to accommodate injury increases the load on different tissues.

How A NY Podiatrist Can Help With Your Running

Even though pronation plays less of a role than doctors previously thought, there are still many reasons to see a New York podiatrist and sports medicine specialist if you are an avid runner. Our state-of-the-art gait analysis center can assess how your body moves as you run and find areas of excessive pressure that will eventually cause injury. We can fit you with custom orthotics if a dull, aching pain has been nagging you for a while. We can assist you in finding the right footwear that gives you the stability you need, without providing excessive motion control gimmicks that may wind up hurting more than helping. Our experienced sports medicine professionals are trained to treat running injuries big and small, so don’t live with the pain. Book your appointment without delay.

If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. 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.