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Pronation and Supination of the Foot

Pronation and Supination of The Foot: Everything I wish I knew

feet ground reaction forces improving running economy rotation training smarts Apr 11, 2024

Your feet are the only thing that touches the ground as you run. That means that all those ground reaction forces travel through there first. Your feet are the key to loading effectively into midstance and propelling efficiently through toe-off. 

The Good News is that our foot and ankle comprise 26 bones, 33 joints, over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments, and thousands of nerve endings. It was made to sense the ground and MOVE! Let's dive Into Pronation and Supination of the foot.


1 - Pronation and Supination are action words.

Pronation and supination are off though of as positions of the foot:


  • Lowered arch
  • “Flat foot”
  • Foot Spreads
    • Longer
    • Wider



  • Higher arch
  • Rigid foot
  • Foot contracts
    • Shorter
    • Narrower


I prefer to think of pronation and supination as ACTIONS.

With every step, your foot is pronat-ING into midstance and supinat-ING through toe-off (with big toe dorsiflexion activation the windlass mechanism for a nice rigid level to push off from). We NEED both!


2 - What’s going on above your feet matters too!

Of course your feet aren’t acting in isolation with this. It’s happening up with the corresponding movement up the chain.

There’s a reason why we wait until week 6 to address the feet directly in the Women’s Running Academy Mentorship. What’s going on ABOVE the feet matters for how well you can move through your feet.

For feet that move well, you need to be able to stand over your foot (stack) and stand on one foot (rotate). 

For the full breakdown of how all the parts are connected when it comes to foot and ankle health Check out this blog!

That means that things like plantar fasciitis are not just a foot problem!


3 - The action of pronation and supination are actually rotations.

We call it pronation and supination, but really it’s reciprocal rotation at the foot.

We sometimes (mistakenly) think of pronation as the arch “falling” in. While the arch does lower and lengthen with true (good) pronation, it all begins with internal rotation. This is where we get true lengthening of the foot surface and can put the most effective force into the ground. Then with supination, we have external rotation. External rotation, coupled with big toe extension provides a nice rigid lever for an efficient toe-off. You can read all about this reciprocal rotation all the way up and down the chain here.


4 -  “Overpronation” is not really pronation at all!

To me there is actually no such thing as "overpronation." It's actually the body trying desperately to create pronation because it's not truly happening.

True pronation is the arch lowering and foot widening/lengthening while the knee travels forward over the toes and the lower limb internally rotates.

 I haven’t written a blog on this specifically. I probably will soon, but here is an IG video with me explaining the idea.


5 - Nailing TRUE pronation could be the secret to your “sleepy glutes.”


If you’ve done all the glute activation stuff and still aren’t getting the results you want, maybe it’s time to look at your feet! Truly grounding into your foot with pronation is necessary for the glutes to do their job (everything is connected) Learn how to maximize that connection here.

The same goes for your pelvic floor! If you’ve done everything for your pelvic floor and still aren’t getting the result you want, time to look at your feet!




6 - Watching what your toes are doing with your strength work might give you some insight into a lot more than you think.

Do you notice your toes gripping the ground when you are doing your strength work?  This could be a sign that you are struggling to really ground through the foot efficiently and your toes are trying desperately to find some connection and stability. It could also mean you are gripping and holding tension elsewhere (pelvic floor and jaw for example). 

That’s why it’s not always as simple as “trying to relax and let go.” The body needs to feel safe to relax. For your body to feel safe in standing you need to be able to feel the ground. You can read more on the toe gripping connection here.

On a related note, I recently had an athlete with lots of pelvic floor symptoms while running. Even though we were doing all the “right” things with her training she would still getting leaking with her run. We determine that she was subconsciously gripping in response to her feet sliding in her shoes. She switched to these grippy socks (use this affiliate code ALISONMARIEPHD10 at checkout for 10% off) and saw a huge difference immediately! I don’t think this is a magic fix by any means. We put in the work, but it was definitely part of the puzzle for her..


7 - A good shoe can be part of the solution, but it likely won’t solve all your problems.

If there is one thing I’ve learned from posting about running on social media over the years, it’s that runners LOVE to talk about their shoes (gear in general, but shoes in particular).

 Yes, I too LOVE a new pair of running shoes (planning to invest in a new super shoe soon actually).

 Yes, supportive footwear does have its place.  I talk through some good shoe criteria here.

Buuuut, the “right” shoes are not the be all and end all. With everything above we can look at this from a both/and perspective.


So Now What??

If you think you might not be pronating and supinating correctly check out the blogs linked above. Most have super helpful videos and images so you can get an idea of the correct form. There are even videos of exercises that you can do to help pronate and supinate better! If this is your jam, then check out our programs page! I have a tone of free give resources and some more comprehensive courses. You can find what fits you best from short pinpointed course focusing on a single issues to our Women Running Academy, a 12-week Mentorship that will help you put it ALL together push you to breaking your records and feeling better about it! 


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