Thursday, May 31, 2012

Difficulties Understanding Pronation



As a runner, it’s something that has been mind-boggling me for years. I’m not sure if it’s because I haven’t fully researched enough to get a good understanding of it, or because I’m just an idiot, but pronation (the way your foot rolls when running) has been the most ongoing challenge I’ve had other than my injuries. What I want to do is try to explain the types of pronation, and ask some general questions and see if some better experts can help me out.

From what I can gather from research from runnersword.com, there are three types of pronations; Underpronation (also called supination), normal pronation, and overpronation. Each one has their risks in causing running injuries if not taken the correct precautions.

Normal pronation typically occurs with people who have a normal arch. Quoted from runnersworld.com, “The outside part of the heel makes initial contact with the ground. The foot ‘rolls’ inward about fifteen percent, comes in complete contact with the ground, and can support your body weight without any problem. The rolling in of the foot optimally distributes the forces of impact. This movement is called ‘pronation,’ and it's critical to proper shock absorption. At the end of the gait cycle, you push off evenly from the front of the foot”. Stability shoes are the best advised for those with a normal pronation which provide good cushioning and medial support to prevent too much of an inward lean of your foot upon impact with the ground.

Overpronation occurs in runners with flat feet. “As with the "normal pronation" sequence, the outside of the heel makes the initial ground contact. However, the foot rolls inward more than the ideal fifteen percent, which is called "overpronation." This means the foot and ankle have problems stabilizing the body, and shock isn't absorbed as efficiently. At the end of the gait cycle, the front of the foot pushes off the ground using mainly the big toe and second toe, which then must do all the work”. These runners typically require a motion-controlled shoe with really cracks down on your running cycle, in order to prevent injuries.

Underpronation can be also referred to as supination, where they occur in people with high arches. “The outside of the heel makes initial contact with the ground. But the inward movement of the foot occurs at less than fifteen percent (i.e., there is less rolling in than for those with normal or flat feet). Consequently, forces of impact are concentrated on a smaller area of the foot (the outside part), and are not distributed as efficiently. In the push-off phase, most of the work is done by the smaller toes on the outside of the foot”. These runners should wear a neutral-cushion shoe to allow a more natural ride to prevent too much work on the smaller toes as they complete the running cycle.

I kind of understanding the basic concepts of this topic, but there are some lingering questions? What are the best tests to help determine your pronation? Many websites that specialize in running shoes offer a variety of tests such as a credit card test or looking at the primary worn areas of your shoes. Also, can a person have two different pronations? Say, a left foot normally pronates, and a right foot underpronates? If so, what are the shoe recommendations for that? I assume it’s to look for a shoe with a combination of good cushioning and stability, but I’m not sure what options offer that.

It’s something to ponder upon as my hips currently cause me a great deal of discomfort. Most running injuries are caused by running in the wrong type of shoe. I suppose for research is in order.