Foot Supination

Foot supination, also known as underpronation, is a condition where the foot rolls outward during walking or running. While this might seem like a minor issue, supination can lead to a host of problems including ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis, and shin splints.

Supination occurs when the weight of the body is placed on the outer edges of the feet, leading to insufficient inward roll during the gait cycle. This abnormal foot motion can cause excessive strain on the muscles and ligaments of the feet, leading to discomfort and injury.


Common causes of foot supination

Genetics: Inherited foot structures, such as high arches, can predispose individuals to supination.

Improper footwear: Wearing shoes that do not provide adequate support or cushioning can exacerbate supination. Walking and standing in high heels for long periods of time also puts strain on the ligaments, muscles, and arch of the foot that can lead to pronation.

Muscle imbalance: There are 19 intrinsic foot muscles, and 10 that originate outside of the foot but still act on the foot. If some of these muscles are weaker and some are tighter, weight may not be evenly distributed throughout the foot.

Prior injuries: Old injuries, such as achilles tendonitis, can cause damage to the bones and soft tissue that put people at risk of supination.

Movement: Leading a sedentary or overly active lifestyle, standing for too long, or those with a restricted range of motion, are more likely to suffer from supination.

 

Preventing supination

Preventing foot supination involves a combination of proper footwear, exercises, and lifestyle adjustments. Some effective strategies include:

Choosing the right footwear: Wearing appropriate shoes is crucial for preventing supination. Look for shoes with the following features:

  • Cushioning: Adequate cushioning helps absorb shock and reduces the impact on the outer edges of the feet.
  • Arch Support: Shoes with good arch support can help distribute weight more evenly across the foot.
  • Stability: Shoes that provide stability to the foot also prevent it from rolling outward.

Orthotics: If you have high arches or other structural issues, orthotic insoles can provide additional support and correct abnormal foot mechanics. While there are many off-the-shelf insoles that help, it is always recommended to consult a podiatrist in order to get orthotics tailored to your specific needs.

Strengthening Exercises: Strengthening the muscles in your feet and lower legs can improve stability and reduce the risk of supination. Incorporate the following exercises into your routine:

  • Calf Raises: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and slowly raise your heels off the ground, then lower them back down. Repeat 15-20 times.
  • Toe Curls: Place a towel on the floor and use your toes to scrunch it up towards you. Repeat for both feet.
  • Ankle Inversions: Sit with your leg extended and loop a resistance band around your foot. Turn your foot inward against the resistance. Repeat 10-15 times on each foot.

Stretching Regular stretching can help maintain flexibility and prevent muscle tightness that contributes to supination. Focus on the following stretches:

  • Calf Stretch: Stand facing a wall with one foot forward and one foot back. Keep your back heel on the ground and lean forward to stretch your calf. Hold for 20-30 seconds and switch sides.
  • Plantar Fascia Stretch: Sit down and cross one leg over the other. Pull your toes back towards your shin to stretch the arch of your foot. Hold for 20-30 seconds and switch sides.

Monitor and Modify Activity: If you engage in high-impact activities such as running, be mindful of your technique and ensure you are not overloading your feet. Gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts to allow your body to adapt and strengthen.

Seek Professional Help: If you experience persistent pain or discomfort, it is essential to seek advice from a healthcare professional. A podiatrist or physiotherapist can assess your gait, provide personalised recommendations, and design a treatment plan to address supination.

Preventing foot supination requires a proactive approach that includes choosing the right footwear, performing strengthening and stretching exercises, and seeking professional guidance when necessary. By taking these steps, you can improve your foot mechanics, reduce the risk of injury, and enjoy a more comfortable, pain-free lifestyle.