Supination is a condition that occurs when weight is on the outside of your foot while you are running or walking. However, where the opposite occurs, and the weight shifts from the heel to the forefoot, it is known as pronation. Excess supination, also known as underpronation as well as excess pronation or overpronation, both can result in various problems with the alignment of the body and cause pain in feet, hips, knees, and the back.
In this article we will talk about the causes, treatments and exercises of excess supination. So, read on to discover more about excess supination.
What is Excess Supination?
Excess supination is also known as “underpronation”, because supination is exactly the opposite of pronation of the feet.(1)
Normally, your foot must roll inward (pronate), so that the body weight is on the foot’s ball. Then you push of your big toe. However, if you supinate, most of the weight falls on the feet’s outside and you push off right from the outer toes.
It must be mentioned that excess supination of the feet can result in conditions such as stress on the knee, hip pain and back pain, ankle injuries, and also plantar fasciitis or the inflammation of the soles.
Causes of Excess Supination:
Below are some of the common causes of excess supination.
Genetic Causes of Excess Supination:
Generally the traits affecting the mechanics of the foot and legs are inherited; such as:
- The length of the leg(which includes differences between the length of both the legs)
- The width of feet
- Stability of ankle.
It must be mentioned that the shape of the arch of the foot might also increase the risk of excess supination; with runners having high arches are more prone to supination that others.
Prior Injury as a Cause of Excess Supination:
Another cause for excess supination could be prior injury. Old injuries can result in weakness and instability in the bones as well as the soft tissues of our body. Individuals with Achilles tendonitis are especially at a greater risk of supination.
Excess Supination Caused Due to Bodily Misalignment:
Another cause of excess supination is the bodily misalignment. In case the body is not properly aligned, some body parts must have to work harder so as to support the posture and to maintain balance. Similarly, a poor form while exercising can also result in some of the muscles and bones to overcompensate and this might result in excess supination.
It is essential for each one of us to use good and proper fitting shoes. They support the foot arch as well as the soft tissues of our feet, which in turn aid in protecting the foot from injury.
Wrong type of shoes, such as tight fitting or rigid shoes, can cause to supination and also other problems of the foot. Moreover, wearing worn out shoes or wearing shoes that have no arch support can also lead to supination.
Other Causes of Excess Supination:
Some other causes of excess supination include sedentary lifestyle, restricted range of motion, constant impact on firm and hard surfaces, stiffness because of arthritis or aging, excessive exercise, and standing for a longer time period.
Treatments for Excess Supination:
In case you are suspecting that you are having excess supination while you are walking or running, and having unexplained pain in shin, ankle, heel, arch, hip, or lower back, it must be a good idea to consult with your doctor and get the prescribed treatments for your condition. This not only corrects the condition but also helps you in preventing further injuries. Here we will take a look on some of the possible treatments for excess supination.
The Right Footwear:
Wearing right footwear is one of the most important treatments for excess supination. It is important to note that those who have excess supination, must choose flexible and lightweight shoes for running or even walking. While purchasing the shoes you need to measure both feet in terms of your length, width and also depth so that your get the absolute fit, you must wear same style of socks, you must choose extra cushioning arch support, and must not choose tight-fitting shoes. Moreover, you must replace your running shoes in regular intervals, maybe in 6-8 months. It is also essential for you to consult a podiatrist at first who would recommend you the best type of running shoes for excess supination.
In order to address excess supination, it is essential for you to correct poor posture and also any kind of improper running techniques.
Try to land softly on your feet and aim at making contact with the ground quite close to the mid-foot, rather than on your heel; while you are walking or running. It is bet when you land with a flat foot and avoid curving your toes. It is also important to mention that a short stride usually makes it quite easier for keeping proper form while walking or running.
Another way to treat excess supination is by using orthoitics. Insoles which are designed for supination can actually support the foot arch and the heel so as to control the motion of the foot. Orthoitics can be purchased from stores or can be custom-made from a podiatrist.
One of the best treatments for excess supination is physical therapy. Doing this could help loosen tight muscles and the tendons and also strengthen these soft tissues. This helps in better weight distribution all throughout your body, which in turn corrects excess supination.
Exercises for Excess Supination:
Light exercises and stretches can actually help with the problems caused by excess supination. Gently stretching or mobilizing the leg muscles, help break up adhesions and thus allows an individual to sustain proper form quite easily.(2) Moreover, stretching your ankles can even improve dorsiflexion or the stability and mobility of your ankle.
Studies have also found that individuals with recurrent ankle sprains get significant benefit by performing weight-bearing exercises and stretches of lower body and ankles.(3)
Below we will take a look at some of the exercises for excess supination:
One of the best exercises for excess supination is jumping ropes. Jumping ropes assist you in restraining the body on how it interacts with the floor. Try to jump ropes barefoot on a soft floor. Light jumping of the rope can be an excellent warmup for other exercises.
Plantar Fascia Stretch:
Excess supination can cause excess strain on the plantar fascia or the ligament connecting the toes and heels. This results in a condition known as plantar fasciitis. Plantar fascia stretch is a stretch that can help in preventing or treating excess supination.
- For doing this stretch, follow the below mentioned steps.
- Sit upright on a chair and cross the right ankle above the knee of your other leg.
- Grab the toes with your right hand and pull the toes gently and slowly towards the front side of the ankle.
- Hold this for about 10 seconds and then do the same with the other side.
Calf and Achilles Tendon Stretch:
Usually people with excess supination have tight calves and tight Achilles tendons. Calf and Achilles tendon stretch would help you if you supinate in excess.
Below are the steps to perform calf and Achilles tendon stretch.
- Place the hands on a wall or a stable chair.
- Take one leg back, a few feet behind the front leg.
- Keep your back leg absolutely straight as you bend the front knee till you feel a stretch on the calf muscle of your back leg and along the back of the ankle.
Tibialis Anterior or Shin Muscle Stretch:
There is the tibialis anterior muscle at the front of the lower leg, just next to the shin bone. Any pain or tightness of this muscle is generally referred to as “shin splints” and it can be caused because of tension of the foot and due to crunching of the toes, usually experienced by people who have excess supination. This can be corrected by the tibialis anterior or shin muscle stretch.
Below are the steps to perform this exercise for Excess Supination:
- Place your hands on the wall and keep your feet planted on the ground.
- Step back one leg behind you.
- Slightly bend your front knee and keep the foot planted firmly on the ground.
- Slowly bend you front leg till you feel a stretch in the shin muscles.
- Hold this position for 20 seconds and then do the same with other leg.
- Knee stretch is another stretch that could help people with excess supination. Below are the steps to perform this step.
- Stand on the floor and cross your right leg behind you left leg.
- Slightly bend over the left side. Make sure not to bend backward or forward. Here, you must feel a stretch along the outer side of the right knee and the thigh.
- Hold this stretch for 10 seconds and then switch the sides.
- Do this 3 times on each of your leg.
Though supination and pronation are natural parts of our movements, excessive use of any of these motion can cause several complications, such as swelling, pain, and misalignment. So, using proper footwear, orthotics, and performing specific stretches and exercises could help in correcting excess supination. If you are one of those suffering from this problem of excess supination, do follow the best treatments and exercise to correct the condition. It is always advisable to talk with your doctor and go for the best prescribed treatments.