Unless you're a very keen runner with a technical view of exercise, you might not have come across the word pronation before. In fact, even if you are, it might be unfamiliar.

Put simply, pronation refers to the way your feet naturally roll inwards slightly as you walk or run. An ordinary part of walking healthily, pronation helps absorb shock, preventing injury to the feet or legs.

But there's a problem. Many people don't have correct, neutral pronation, which means they're putting undue strain on their bones and muscles, which may lead to injury. It causes particular stress while running, but walking can also be problematic over time.

These are the different types of pronation. If you suspect one of the problematic kinds may apply to you, the best way to find out for sure is by undergoing gait analysis. Once you're certain, you can correct the issue by using the right kind of footwear.

Neutral pronation

The first part of each footstep should be the outside edge of the heel touching down on the ground. This is followed by a slight rolling inwards until the foot is flat on the ground, before it lifts off from the heel and pushes away from the ground for the next step. There's quite a fine line between neutral pronation and too much either side, so many people don't have optimal protection against impact injuries when they walk and run.


This particular problem, also known as supination, typically begins with less of the heel making contact with the ground at the beginning of each step, as the foot is tilted outwards too much. This puts much more strain on the outer leg and the edge of the foot. Because the ankles are quite a weak part of the body, this extra impact can lead to them becoming injured. It's much less common than a normal gait or overpronation, but its effects can be quite serious.


Overpronators usually begin each step correctly, but this is followed by the foot rolling inwards too far. This action puts extra weight onto the inside leg and inner edge of the foot as you move, although the extent of the overpronation can vary a lot between different people. More people overpronate to some extent than don't, and it's responsible for many common running injuries like shin splints and plantar fasciitis. When the feet push off from the ground, more pressure is concentrated in the big toes, which can cause them to weaken and suffer injuries.