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What Are Underpronation and Overpronation?

Many athletes and runners experience pain and discomfort in their feet due to either underpronation or overpronation. What is underpronation? What is overpronation? For that matter, what is pronation? In this post, we’ll answer all those questions and more. Pronation is the natural rolling motion of the foot just after it lands on the ground. When the outer edge of the heel contacts the ground, it locks, or supinates, to cope with the impact. Your foot then rolls slightly inwards as your heel moves slightly outwards. Together, these actions cause your foot to unlock, or pronate. Pronation is important, because it helps your legs to absorb the shock of impact while adapting to different or uneven surfaces. Those with normal, neutral pronation tend to experience the least foot and leg discomfort after running or exercising. Unfortunately for those who aren’t neutral pronators, if your foot isn't properly absorbing movement, you may experience soreness, swelling or even injury if you are active in running and other athletics. For this reason, it’s important to understand your pronation pattern and identify your individual stance and gait.


Underpronation, also known as supination, occurs when there is not enough inward roll of the foot after landing. The outer side of the heel hits the ground at an increased angle, with little or no normal pronation occurring. This leads to a large transmission of shock throughout the lower leg. The foot does not flatten out effectively during walking or running, and this pattern continues for the entire stance phase of your gait. Those who underpronate will show wear on the outside, or lateral, portion of their shoes. If not addressed, underpronation can cause pain, swelling, and irritation, leading to potential injury.


On the other hand, if your foot rolls too far inward during the stance phase of your gait, it means that you are overpronating. During overpronation, too much weight is transferred to the inner side of the foot, and the load is carried by the inner edge instead of the ball of the foot. This destabilizes your foot and leads to a chain reaction which affects the entire leg, particularly the knee and hip. If you overpronate, your shoes will show extra wear on the inside of the heel and underneath the ball of the foot, particularly the big toe. Overpronation can cause a number of health problems and leg injuries, because your foot isn't correctly absorbing the shock of impact. Instead, the stress is placed on your legs, knees, hips and/or spine. Overpronating also forces the inner toes to take on all the work of pushing off for your next step, which can lead to painful running injuries.

How Compression Sleeves Can Help

If you suffer from underpronation or overpronation, there are a variety of options that can reduce your pain. Many athletic retailers offer specialty running shoes specifically designed to correct various pronation patterns. Shoe inserts and physical therapy can also help reduce the negative effects of underpronation and overpronation. Another way to relieve foot pain is by wearing foot compression sleeves. Compression sleeves can help to reduce pain, swelling, and discomfort in your feet, calves, and legs.  The graduated compression of the sleeves ensures that your area of injury will be targeted and supported. While compression sleeves are not a solution for step-induced foot injuries, they can reduce the symptoms until the cause is resolved.