Let’s Talk Pronation
With Spencer White, VP Saucony Human Performance & Innovation Lab
First and foremost!
I'm a pronator. There, I said it and now the whole world knows. I'm not embarrassed. In fact, I'm pretty happy about it. Also, pretty much everybody reading this post is a pronator too.
What is Pronation?
The human body is built in a way that allows the foot to twist relative to the lower leg, and this inward rolling motion of the foot is called pronation. It’s perfectly natural and allows the body to . . .
- Adapt to uneven surfaces to create a stable base for movement
- Pivot over the foot so we can change direction.
- It even provides some cushioning during running!
If Pronation is so helpful,
then why is it controversial?
The simple answer is that for some runners too much exposure to pronation seems to be the cause of overuse injuries. The amount of work that their muscles are doing to control the motion, or perhaps even the torques applied to their bones due to their particular alignment, create the injury.
For these runners, shoes that help reduce the stress on the body that results from pronation can help them run without pain (or at least without pain related to pronation...running is still work!). Here’s where it gets tricky: All the simple measures we've thought of over the years to use as a guide for choosing the right shoe have proven to be poor predictors of who is at risk for succumbing to a pronation-related injury. The shape of your foot (i.e. low, med, high arch), the amount your foot changes shape when you stand on it, or even the most sophisticated 3D motion captures don’t allow us to measure how your body will respond over months of training.
Simply put: It's not how much you pronate that matters, it's whether your body can handle the amount you pronate.
So how do you know if your body
needs some help?
Our Shoe Advisor will walk you through some simple tests that can give you some guidance, or an experienced running shoe store can help you make a selection. But remember, because humans are all so different, what works for one person will often not work for another, so finding the right solution for you may take a few tries.
Our stability models with the greatest to least
amount of medial support are as follows:
Somebody told me I Supinate, now what?
Supination is the opposite motion from pronation, it’s the outward rotation of the ankle (i.e. your foot rolls onto its outside edge). But here’s the thing: very few runners supinate after the foot hits the ground. But there are plenty of people whose feet don’t roll in much, their foot stays in mostly the same position as it rolls forward (it’s a “rigid” foot). If you’re this type of runner you focus most of the force along the lateral side of the shoe. What’s most important for these runners is to have a shoe with durable cushioning to stand up to the focused impact area. These runners can run successfully in cushioned (sometimes called “neutral”) shoes.
The models we make for these types
of runners are:
Remember, we can help point you in the right direction.
Just take a look at our Shoe Advisor to get a recommendation in 60 seconds or less!