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Foot Supination vs. Pronation: Explained By a Physical Therapist

Heard supination and pronation mentioned but not sure about the differences? Find the answer to this and more here.

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By Babafemi Adebajo
Joel Taylor
Edited by Joel Taylor

Updated February 13, 2023.

Ideally, your weight should be balanced on your feet when you stand. In normal circumstances, your foot should roll forward from heel to toe when you walk.

Sometimes, however, this is not the case. Instead of balance in standing, underlying conditions can cause your weight to shift to the outside of your foot and roll your ankles in the same direction (called ankle supination) or the inside of the foot and roll your ankles inward (overpronation).

Causes of Supination and Pronation

While some degree of pronation is normal, supination and overpronation are not. Supination and overpronation typically occur when you have high foot arches, low foot arches, or a limb length discrepancy. However, these conditions can also result from:

  • Injury
  • Overuse
  • Stress due to standing on a hard surface
  • Prolonged standing
  • Being overweight

Treatments for Supination and Pronation

If not properly managed, supination and overpronation of the foot can result in pain in the feet, ankle, legs, knee, hip, and back. Thus, treating ankle overpronation and supination as soon as it is observed is vital. To correct the imbalance and prevent foot complications, here's what you can do:

  1. Wear proper-fitting shoes People with excess supination need shoes that provide cushioning, flexibility, and heel support. When the problem is excess pronation, stability is obtained by using a firm midsole and heel cushion.
  2. Wear arch support insoles Custom insoles for overpronation or supination orthotics are quite useful in restoring the alignment of the foot. The benefit of proper arch support is that it forces the feet back into their correct positioning.
  3. Strengthening exercises A combination of supination foot exercises and foot pronation exercises can help correct any excess measure of supination or pronation that there may be.

Should You See a Doctor for Supination or Pronation?

A minor degree of supination or pronation might not necessarily require a doctor's visit if they don't cause you any pain or discomfort. However, if your feet are out of alignment, it can lead to further issues down the line, and so seeing a doctor is essential to correct the malalignment and restore your feet to their optimal anatomic position.

» Alleviate supination-related discomfort with the best custom insoles for supination