Pronation: What Runners Need to Know

Many runners have probably heard the word pronation thrown around. But what exactly is pronation? Follow along to learn more about pronation and what you need to know as a runner!


In a running context, pronation simply refers to the inward rolling motion of the foot as it strikes the ground during walking or running. Pronation is a natural movement that allows feet to absorb shock and keep ankles and legs aligned during motion. The normal amount of pronation tends to be about 15 degrees. This means the foot rolls inward (towards the body center) about 15 degrees during activity.

Here’s how it works normally. As you push off with your foot, all of your toes are involved in helping this happen. The biggest two toes do the majority of the work, while the other toes provide support. The sole of the foot is in a neutral, flat position during this motion (not tilted inward or outward). The foot begins to roll outward a bit as you push off, and the arch stiffens and rises to to give some stability. Then, as the heel strikes the ground, the foot arch begins to flatten again (rolling inward).

However, many people may pronate (roll inward) more or less than normal. This can lead to issues for runners in particular, who are often repeating foot strikes thousands of times per run. Next, we will take a look at overpronation and underpronation.


Overpronation occurs when your feet roll inwards more than 15 degrees. The ankle continues to roll inward on push off (instead of starting to roll out), meaning the biggest two toes do all of the work and have no support from the other toes. People with flatter feet may be more likely to overpronate. Overpronation can cause issues with your knees, shin splints, and strain on the two big toes.


Underpronation (also called supination) is the opposite of overpronation. Here, the foot is not rolling in (pronating) enough during the toeing off part of motion. The outside edge of the foot and smaller toes end up doing a lot more work than normal. People with high arches may be more likely to underpronate. Some injuries associated with this include plantar fasciitis, ankle sprains, IT band syndrome, and achilles tendonitis.
Avoiding Injury

It’s crucial to get a professional opinion on your movement patterns if you believe you are not pronating correctly. While many people believe particular types of running shoes will help fix under or over pronation, this isn’t really shown consistently by studies. You should consult with a medical professional to get a diagnosis of your gait. They can help you with any therapeutic treatment or custom orthotics you may need to help treat and avoid injury.

Knowing your gait and what adjustments you may need to make is important when you are a runner. Fortunately, Orthopaedic Specialists can help! You should seek diagnosis and treatment from a qualified medical professional like Dr. Stacie Grossfeld if you are injured and want to get back to the activities you love. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Grossfeld, call Orthopaedic Specialists at 502-212-2663 today.