Watch Your Step: Do You Pronate or Supinate?


For most of us, walking doesn’t require much thought. We take thousands of steps per day without considering how our feet interact with the ground beneath us and how that interaction may affect our overall foot health. If you find that your feet are unusually sore at the end of the day, you may be experiencing excessive pronation or supination.

Pronation v. Supination

Pronation and supination both refer to the way a person’s feet and ankles respond to the impact of his or her weight against the ground while walking or running.

  • Pronation is defined by ankles and feet that roll inward with each step, meaning most of the impact is absorbed by the big-toe side of the foot.

  • Supination refers to ankles and feet that roll outward with each step, distributing most of the impact through the pinky-toe side of the foot.

  • Both issues can lead to long-term foot injuries that are sure to slow you down, so it’s important to know whether you pronate or supinate.

Test Your Arch at Home

The way your foot interacts with the ground depends on the type of arch structure you have. People with low arches are more susceptible to excessive pronation, whereas those with high arches will more frequently experience excessive supination. You can discover what type of arch you have by following these quick steps:

  • Wet your feet in the bath or with a cloth.

  • Step onto a piece of cardboard or any other absorbent material that will darken when wet.

  • Step off and observe the shape of your footprint.

If the footprint you left is wide from your toe to your heel, that means your whole foot makes contact with the ground when you step due to a low-arch structure. Someone with a low foot arch is more prone to conditions like plantar fasciitis,  bunions, and other injuries associated with flat feet.

If you find that your footprint is especially narrow, then you have a high-arch structure and may be excessively supinating. Abnormal supination is less common than overpronating but can result in consequences as severe as Achilles tendonitis or stress fractures.

Although a home assessment of your arch structure is a good start to addressing foot pain, it’s best to visit a podiatrist to determine the best course of action for your feet. Our board-certified doctors are waiting for you in offices all over North Houston and the surrounding area, including Northwest Houston, Northeast Houston, Tomball, Liberty Dayton, The Woodlands, Atascocita, Cleveland, and Livingston. Make an appointment today to keep walking happily for years to come.