How Do Pronation, Overpronation and Supination Affect Your Gait?

Choose Shoes for Your Gait

Pronation - Neutral - Supination
Pronation - Neutral - Supination. By Ducky2315 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Your gait can be affected by pronation, overpronation, or supination. Take a look at the bottom of your walking or running shoes. Where do you wear them down? An athletic shoe fit specialist will look at the soles of your shoes and watch you walk and run before recommending what kind of shoe you should wear.

The foot normally flattens when it hits the ground and rolls to the inside. If your foot flattens too much, rolls too much or not enough, problems can develop from toes to spine.

The proper shoe or insole can straighten things out. More: What Walking Shoe Wear Patterns Tell You


  • After initial ground contact, the foot is designed to roll inward to disperse shock
  • Over-pronators roll in too much. This causes excessive movement of the foot and lower leg.
  • Under-pronators have feet that don't roll enough after ground contact.


  • Definition: Excessive inward roll of the foot after landing. The foot continues to roll when it should be pushing off. This twists the foot, shin and knee and can cause pain in all those areas.
  • Diagnosis: You will see excessive wear on the inner side of your running shoes. Your shoes will tilt inward if you place them on a flat surface. Knock knees or flat feet contribute to overpronation. More: Are You an Overpronator?
  • Remedies: Wear shoes with straight or semicurved lasts. Motion-control or stability shoes with firm, multidensity midsoles and external control features that limit pronation are best. Over-the-counter orthotics or arch supports can help, too. Overpronation causes extra stress and tightness to the muscles, so do a little extra stretching.
    Top Picks for Motion Control Shoes

    Supination (Under-pronation)

    • Definition: Insufficient inward roll of the foot after landing. This places extra stress on the foot and can result in iliotibial band syndrome of the knee, Achilles tendinitis and plantar fasciitis.
    • Diagnosis: Your shoes will show excessive wear on the entire outside edge, with the side of the shoe becoming overstretched. Your shoes will tilt outward when placed on a flat surface. High arches and tight Achilles tendons contribute to supination.
    • Remedies: Wear shoes with curved lasts to allow pronation. Lightweight trainers allow more foot motion. Check for flexibility on the inner side of the shoe. Supinators should do extra stretching for the calves, hamstrings, quads and iliotibial band.

    Experts to Help You Determine Your Gait

    Self-diagnosis is one thing, but nothing beats finding a real, live fit specialist to analyze your gait. How to find one?

    • Look for the technical shoe store in your area. This will be a store that caters to serious runners and walkers. The salespeople will be specialists in fitting your foot, and will be out to sell you the right shoe rather than the most expensive or most trendy.
    • Runner's World magazine lists technical shoe stores, so look at the current issue on the newsstand or back issues in your library or online.
    • Find the local running magazine or web site for your area and look at the advertisers.
    • Look for a shoe store that appears to cater to serious athletes. What running shoe stores sponsor fun runs and marathons in your area? Call and ask if they are a technical shoe store and if they have fit specialists.
    • Call or email your local running club, racewalking club, or school athletic department and ask where they recommend finding good shoes. Attend a local race or charity 10K walk/run and talk to the runners and racewalkers.

    More: Walking Shoe Guide: How to choose the right shoes for your walking style.

    When the Shoe Doesn't Fit: How to get a good fit, with tips on lacing, inserts, and custom shoes.

    Continue Reading