Overpronation insoles

What Is Overpronation And Can Insoles Help?

by Mark Paigen 5 minute read

You've probably heard the term "overpronation" before, and even if you already know what it is, you might not know why it happens or how to fix it. It's a lot easier than you think.

The Basics ---

  • Overpronation occurs when your foot rolls too far inward before you push off to move forward as a step is taken. Negative effects of overpronation include arch collapse, plantar fasciitis, inefficiency, and pain in your kinetic chain.
  • Adding firm, supportive insoles to you shoes can counteract overpronation while improving your alignment and efficiency. They should mimic the contours of your arches and provide firm support.
  • If you overpronate and just want to make your footwear more comfortable, we recommend Tread Labs Ramble Insoles. If you have plantar fasciitis or other foot pain, we recommend Pace Insoles. And, if you're an athlete looking to improve your performance, we recommend Dash Insoles.

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What You Need To Know ---

What Is Over Pronation?

Pronation is a complex motion that takes place at several joints of the foot, resulting in the inward rolling of the foot as a step is taken. About 60% of the population pronates more than they need to in order to function properly.

Overpronation 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

To explain overpronation, you have to understand what happens to your feet when you take a step. We've broken down the process step-by-step:


Heal strike area on foot
  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.
Over-pronation area on foot
  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.
Calcaneal shelf area of foot
  1. By providing support under the Calcaneal shelf, pronation can be controlled.
  2. Spreading the support forward into the arch makes the support 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.

How To Tell If Your An Overpronator

Dr. Avanti Redkar, DPM admits that "overpronation isn't always obvious. Most people take the way they walk or run for granted. You can always have your gait analyzed by a foot and ankle specialist, but there are some ways to tell at home."

First, it helps to know your arch height. Overpronators typically have flat feet and flexible arches. Second, it helps to listen to what your shoes are telling you. If you look at the bottom of your shoes, and see a lot of wear on the heel and ball of the foot leading into the big toe, you're probably an overpronator. 

If you decide to see a specialist, here's what you can expect according to Dr. Hamid Sadri. "An evaluation of the pelvis, hip, knee, ankle and foot ranges of motion along with at least a lunge and a squat test to examine other elements of motion such as force production, force dissipation, proprioception, stability and balance."

The Negative Effects of Overpronation

In Podiatry Today, David Levine, DPM, CPed writes, "Everyone pronates and everyone supinates. It is a matter of how much and when each occurs that determines whether lower extremity problems will occur."

If problems do occur as a result of overpronation, they range from not terribly noticeable to seriously uncomfortable. They include:

  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.

How Do I Correct Overpronation?

Correcting for overpronation is easier than you might think. If you're a runner, you'll want to look for a shoe with lots of stability and support. Finding the right pair is easier than ever. You'll also want to add insoles for overpronation to your shoes to make sure your arch has the firm support it needs.

The editors at Runner's World point out, "not so long ago, stability in a running shoe meant a maximalist approach to overcorrecting pronators' strides. But stability shoes now take a less severe approach...Instead of "fixing" your gait, shoes these days are designed to improve your comfort on your runs and reduce your risk for injuries." 

What Are The Best Overpronation Insoles?

Pronation is a powerful force. Firm support from overpronation insoles is necessary for proper alignment. You have two options to consider - custom orthotics and non-prescription insoles with firm arch support.

  1. Custom orthotics - Ideal for people with complicated, clinical issues, custom orthotics are expensive. Do you research to make sure that custom orthotics for overpronation are necessary for you and choose a orthotic supplier carefully.
  2. Non-prescription insoles - Beware when you're shopping for insoles for overpronation as many over-the-counter options don't provide the firm support required to limit pronation. One-size-fits all options are also problematic as your arch is unique. The best insoles for overpronation will provide a firm arch support and a choice of multiple arch height options.

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

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Questions? Drop us a line at hello@treadlabs.com. We're here to help.

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