Pronation has become a dirty word in the commercial world of shoe sales. Along with “flat feet” pronation has been used to describe a serious issue that is impacting on you in your day-to-day life and the reason you need controlling footwear and orthotics to stop this unnatural action!
Scare tactics aside, have you ever asked why pronation is considered bad? Does everyone who pronates need posted shoes and orthotics? If we stop you from pronating does that reduce your potential for injury?
Well first of all let’s get one thing straight, pronation is a natural movement of the foot. It is the amalgamation of subtalar eversion, dorsiflexion at the ankle joint and forefoot abduction to create a number of important moments for efficient human locomotion.
These include but are not limited to;
- Shock Attenuation: Shock attenuation is necessary when walking and running to reduce the amount of impact forces on the body and more specifically, the lower limb. The foot “unlocks” as it enters pronation reducing its previously rigid position to absorb the forces and in many cases redistribute them appropriately.
- Elastic Energy: Elastic energy is created and stored within tendons of the leg and foot. Of note, the plantar fascia and achillies tendon form the primary spring mechanisms which are placed on stretch during pronation and refocus that energy into propulsion as the foot begins to re-supinate.
What the foot intends to do and what it actually does comes down to individual circumstances, past injury history and anatomical make – up. Let me clarify this for those who have been told they have flat feet so it is better understood.
Your arch height is primarily defined by the bone structure of your feet and the soft tissues which are associated with these bones. If you suffer an injury to these areas either by way of direct contact or load intolerance which is then not appropriately rehabilitated the structure of your arch may change.
Additionally, the amount of pronation your foot goes through may or may not be appropriate depending on how well your body tissues can deal with the forces which are being placed upon them as a result. It may come as a surprise but some people’s pain can be identified as being due to a lack of pronation.
As mentioned above, pronation is an action and many soft tissue injuries occur due to an inability to deal with the load associated with this action or an inability to cope with secondary biomechanical changes which may occur due to this action. This may include restriction of the first metatarsal phalangeal joint (big toe joint) or internal rotation of the lower leg these actions can both lead to other pedal and lower limb complications.
This information has been used to sell footwear for the last 40-50 years with many sports footwear companies offering a number of options along the continuum of supportive shoes. Some options are secure and cushioned while others provide a solid density foam to limit pronating forces through the heel and mid-foot. It is a matter of fact that sometimes the shoe being sold to you is not necessary the right one – believe me I used to work at one of the more highly recommended retail groups and when I think about some of the shoes I sent people out in I cringe!
Pronation is NOT Evil,
Pronation is NECESSARY!
Until Next Time,
Director/ Chief Editor
Baan, H., & Hermanns, H. (2012). Foot and Ankle Kinematics in Rheumatoid Arthritis: Influence of Foot and Ankle Joint and Leg Tendon Pathologies.
DeSilva, M., Bonne- Annee, R., Swanson, Z., Gill, C., Sobel, M., Uy, J., & Gill, S. (2015). Midtarsal Break Variation in Modern Humans: Functional Causes, Skeletal Correlates and Paleontological Implications. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 1 – 10.
Liu, A., Nester, C., Jones, R., Lundgren, P., Lundberg, A., Arndt, A., & Wolf. (2012). Effect of an Anti-Pronation Foot Orthotsis on Ankle and Subtalar Kinematics. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 2384 – 2391.