‘Overpronation’ is a bad term that is often thrown around in running communities in regards to runner’s feet and the use of
running shoes. Pronation is a natural normal motion that the foot goes through when walking and running. This is the foot rolling inwards at the ankle joint and the arch of the foot lowering. The body needs to do this to help absorb
shock. Overpronation is when there is apparently too much of the pronation. There is no consensus among experts just how much is too much and even if it really is a problem or not. There are plenty of runners who overpronate that
never have problems.
It is a widespread belief that overpronation increases the risk for injury in runners and the evidence is that it does, but it is only a small risk factor and many other factors go into runners getting an injury. Because of this assumed risk for injury running shoes have been traditionally made for mild, moderate and severe overpronators. The most rigid motion control shoes are made for the most severe overpronators. Those that have no or minimal overpronation are considered to be better off in neutral or stability rather than motion control running shoes. This model for the use of running shoes is not supported by the evidence and some evidence contradicts it.
Overpronation is only considered a problem if the forces associated with it are high enough to damage the tissues. In those cases foot orthotics are generally indicated in the short to medium term and then depending on the cause of the overpronation, gait retraining and muscle rehabilitation is used in the medium to long term. Where problems also arise around the use of the term, there is also the problem that there is no one type of overpronation. There are many different causes of overpronation and no one size fits all. Foot orthotics will work in some people long term. Muscle rehabilitation gait retraining will work in the long term in others. That is why it is important to determine the cause first and direct therapy at that. There are many overpronation myths, so please be careful when reading on the web about it.