Overpronation: What It Is and Which Shoe Insoles Will Help

by Mark Paigen

Overpronation and what to do about it

You've probably heard the term "overpronation" before, especially if you've ever been fitted for running shoes. And even if you already know what overpronation is, you may not know why it happens or that there is an easy way to solve it. Read on to learn why pronation occurs and what you can do to mitigate it.

Over Pronation Explained

Pronation is the inward rolling of the foot as a step is taken. Over pronation occurs when the foot rolls too far inward before you push off to move forward. When this inward rolling motion goes too far, the alignment of the foot is compromised and there is a loss of efficiency in every step you take.


Basic Foot Biomechanics

Here is a non-video version of what happens when you take a step.

  1. Heel strike happens on the outside of your heel. (Yes, this is normal.)
  2. The weight distribution moves to the center of your heel before progressing forward along the outside of your foot.
  3. When the weight reaches the ball of your foot, it moves across the ball towards the inside of your foot. This inward rolling motion is pronation – a valuable shock-absorbing feature of the foot.
  4. As the foot rolls inward, the ankle, knee and hip follow suit.
  5. For an efficient stride, push-off happens when your weight is just behind the second toe.
  6. Unfortunately, most people continue to roll their feet to the inside. This is overpronation.
When your foot overpronates, the arch flattens, the toes pivot toward the outside and the ankle, knee and hip rotate inward. None of these motions are positive for your body.
  1. When the arch flattens, it puts stress on the connective tissue between your heel and the ball of your foot, causing fatigue and in some cases plantar fasciitis. In addition, your foot now has a lower instep and tends to slide forward in your shoes.
  2. As the toes pivot outward, the bones of the foot are no longer in a stable position and forward motion is much less efficient.
  3. The inward roll of the ankle, knee and hip can cause discomfort and alignment problems, especially if you are on your feet all day.
There is an excellent control point to limit pronation for an efficient, comfortable stride. There is a "shelf" on the inside of the heel bone, towards the rear of the arch. This is the calcaneal shelf. Support beneath it is the best way to limit pronation.
  1. By providing support under the Calcaneal shelf, pronation can be controlled.
  2. Spreading the support forward into the arch makes thesupport much more comfortable.
  3. The most effective support is firm, with a spring-like feeling. An accurate fit is necessary to insure that this firm support is matched to the contours of your foot.

The Negative Effects of Overpronation

  1. Arch Collapse - As the arch flattens, your foot slides forward in your shoe. This causes friction resulting in blister and/or calluses. When hiking, your toes can hit the end of your shoes causing blackened toe nails and no small amount of discomfort.
  2. Plantar Fasciitis - Constant elongation of the arch puts stress on the connective tissue (plantar fascia) on the bottom of your foot. Plantar fasciitis affects 1 in 10 people at some point in their life and can be excruciatingly painful.
  3. Inefficiency - We all want to get the most out of our efforts. If each step you take is inefficient because your not properly aligned, you're wasting your energy. 
  4. Pain in the Kinetic Chain - Your kinetic chain is the series of joints that are affected by a particular motion. The rolling in of your foot, twists your ankles, knees, hips and back - all in ways that may cause pain or overuse injuries.

The Best Over Pronation Insoles

Pronation is a powerful force. Firm support from overpronation inserts is necessary for proper alignment. There are 2 options:

  1. Custom orthotics - Ideal for people with complicated, clinical issues, custom orthotics are expensive. Do you research to make sure that custom is necessary for you and choose a orthotic supplier carefully.
  2. Non-prescription insoles - Many over-the-counter insoles do not provide the firm support to limit pronation. Look for strong molded plastic or carbon fiber arch supports and multiple arch height options.

Overpronation is a common issue with an easy solution. By adding shoe inserts for pronation to your footwear, you'll improve your alignment and the efficiency of every step you take.


Mark Paigen
Mark Paigen

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