Overpronation is among the most abused and misunderstood lingo in running as well as health professional groups, particularly when it relates to the prescription of running shoes. The main typical model of the design of various running shoes are derived from the thinking behind the normal or neutral posture of the feet. Pronation is when the feet tilts inwards at the ankle joint and the arch collapses. Supination is when the foot tilts outwards at the ankle and the arch height increases. These are normal healthy movements that are needed for normal function of the foot. It is how the feet adapts to irregular surfaces and absorbs impact. There is nothing wrong with the movements of pronation or supination.
The phrase overpronation is used to infer when there is a large amount of pronation. The reason that this is an issue is that overpronation is thought to be a risk factor for a lot of different overuse injuries. Because of this, running shoes are made with design features inside them that are thought to help control this overpronation. These kinds of design characteristics include medial heel posts, dual density midsoles as well as rigid heel counters. These footwear are supposed to be used by those that overpronate. Those who do not overpronate should really use cushioned neutral footwear.
The issue with this notion is that the name is overused a lot. There’s no general opinion for the cut-off position between normal pronation and overpronation. There is not much research associating overpronation to running injury and if there is any, it’s showing that it really is only a very small risk factor. Lots of runners overpronate significantly and don’t have problems. Similarly, there are lots of runners that do not overpronate that have a lot of issues. Due to this confusion, there’s been a recent improvement in using the term and the idea of overpronation in relationship to running injury and the selling of running shoes.