What Does Pronation Mean For Your Feet and Walking Health?

When we walk, we tell our story. Genetics, physiology, history– these are just a few of the things that influence each and every step we take. Understanding your walking DNA means understanding what makes your walk unique.

Most people don’t evenly distribute their weight when they walk. Pronation and its opposite, supination, are terms that describe where someone is putting most of their weight when they walk or run. Walkers that pronate tend to put more weight on the inside of their foot, while walkers that supinate tend to put more weight on the outside of their foot. Pronation and supination are perfectly normal–all healthy walkers naturally distribute their weight in different ways. Think of pronation as an accessory to your walking style

So what causes pronation? We’re all born with physical differences due to genetic predispositions, and these influence how we move. Muscle strength or weakness around the feet, ankles, and calves, in addition to unique anatomical features of the arches or imbalanced leg lengths can all impact weight distribution at a young age. Over time, these physical predispositions can develop into movement preferences or habits, and this is often how pronation arises. 

Supination vs. Pronation: What is ideal for your walking health?

There is no “ideal” way to walk. Pronation is a very common walking trait, and some degree of it is okay. That said, there is a difference between healthy pronation and overpronation. This is when pronation reaches levels of severity that can impact other aspects of your health. Here are some nuances related to pronation to be aware of, and how they might impact your health:

  1. Do you pronate equally with both feet? If your feet pronate at different angles, you may experience problems with your walk as you age. 
  2. Do you overpronate? Overpronation is when your pronation becomes severe enough to cause ankle, knee, hip, or back problems. The angle of pronation for those who overpronate might be so extreme that the arch of the foot flattens.
  3. Are you pronating more over time? Rapid increases in pronation as you age might be an early indicator that your walking health is changing. Fatigue over a long period of time also exacerbates the degree of pronation
  4. Is an injury causing you to pronate? Pronation changes can also indicate undiagnosed injuries. Notice injuries early to help prevent lasting damage to your walking health.
  5. Are your shoes causing you to pronate? Slight physical and preferential differences that impact pronation are only natural, but shoes shouldn’t change the way you walk. If a shoe is causing you to pronate, it’s time to get a new shoe. 

Walking health has a ripple effect from the ground up, and overpronation is often linked to knee problems in particular. But issues stemming from overpronation aren’t limited to the knees alone. Overpronation can lead to the development of discomfort and pain in all regions that are directly impacted by your walking patterns, including your feet, ankles, hips, and back.. And athletes who overpronate may be at a higher risk for major injuries, such as ACL tears. 

How can you recognize overpronation or unhealthy pronation?

Recognizing unhealthy pronation in your own walk can be a challenge. This is where innovative wearable technology  that monitors walking biometrics can help. To understand how pronation may impact your walking health, it’s important to use dynamic assessments to detect variations in your gait. Even small changes in the way you walk can cause more serious health problems over time. 

Usually, it is not just one biometric factor that may negatively impact your walking health, but many factors working together. The capacity to monitor a variety of biometrics, including pronation is one thing that sets our shoes apart. 

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