Pronation is the way the foot rolls inward when you walk and run. It is part of the natural movement that helps the lower leg deal with shock. Some people pronate more (overpronation) or less (underpronation) than others.

Though this is not bad in itself, it does affect the way you run and it may increase the likelihood of injury. This makes your pronation pattern an important factor in choosing the right running shoes.

What is pronation?

Pronation occurs at the joint below the ankle, the subtalar joint. It describes the inward rolling motion of the foot just after it lands on the ground. This moment is called initial contact, which is part of the stance phase of the gait cycle.

Running shoes are designed today specifically for different pronation patterns. When you pick your next pair of running shoes, your pronation type is a very important factor in your choice.

Neutral pronation

You are likely to be a neutral pronator if the soles of your shoes show wear in an S-shaped pattern, from the outer (lateral) heel to the big toe. When you have a normal pronation pattern you can run in a wide variety of shoes, but specialised neutral running shoes offering cushioning and support are most suitable. The GEL-NIMBUS is the leading cushioning model for neutral runners.

Pronation pattern of a neutral runner

Pronation pattern of a neutral runner

Underpronation

Underpronation, also known as supination, is when the foot doesn't pronate much. The outer or lateral side of the heel hits the ground at an increased angle, and little or no normal pronation occurs, resulting in a large transmission of shock through the lower leg. This lateral loading of the foot continues for the entire stance phase of gait, further affecting running efficiency.

Underpronation (also known as supination)

Underpronation (also known as supination)

As underpronators tend to be susceptible to shock-related injuries like stress fractures, you should choose a neutral running shoe with plenty of cushioning, for example the GEL-CUMULUS.

Overpronation

Overpronation is when the foot rolls in excessively, or at a time when it should not, for instance late in the stance phase of gait. In this case much weight is transferred to the inner or medial side of the foot, and as the runner moves forward the load is borne by the inner edge rather than the ball of the foot. This destabilises the foot, which will attempt to regain stability by compensating for the inward movement. In a kind of chain reaction, this in turn affects the biomechanical efficiency of the leg, especially the knee and hip.

Overpronation

Overpronation

The shoes of an overpronator will show extra wear on the inside of the heel and under the ball of the foot, especially the big toe.

Overpronators should consider choosing maximum support or structured cushioning shoes. Running shoes in both of these categories will help your feet distribute the impact of running more effectively. The GEL-KAYANO is a leading structured cushioning shoe.