Put simply Pronation is the flattening out of the arch when the foot strikes the ground. It is normal for the foot to pronate this will enable it to absorb shock when the heel strikes the ground, and to assist in balance during mid-stance phase of gait. The ankle will slightly roll towards the inside.
Excessive pronation can be a problem because the excessive rolling in causes increased stress on the inside/ medial aspect of the foot. It pulls on the stabilizing muscle posterior tibialis in the lower leg and often causes the knee to rotate excessively internally.
Supination is the opposite motion of pronation, a foot  supinatinates when the ankle appears to be 'tipped' to the outside so you are standing on the outside border of the foot. Supination allows the foot to be a more stable, rigid structure for when we push off on our next step. The foot naturally supinates during the toe-off stage that is when the heel first lift off the ground until the end of the step to provide more leverage and to help ‘roll’ off the toes.
Excessive supination predisposes the ankle to injury because the stabilizing muscles on the outside of the lower leg the peroneals are in a stretched position. It does in not take much force to cause the ankle to roll over, potentially causing ligament damage.
It is the body's way to absorb shock and allow the foot to work as a lever. Excessive motion in either direction can be very problematic if not controlled. If you feel that you over pronate or supinate excessively you should visit a Podiatrist and have a gait assessment.









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Page last updated 14 October, 2007