Supination is the under pronation of the foot during the natural foot strike while running. A ‘normal’ foot strike will land on the outer edge of the foot and roll inwards by approximately 15 degrees. It is this roll that is missing from the strike pattern of a runner who has supination.
Those who have supination can experience a range of symptoms from discomfort to considerable pain. Whichever end of that spectrum you are at choosing the best running shoes for supination is an important factor that can help alleviate these symptoms.
Symptoms of Supination
Supination places excess load on the outside of the foot. There is no roll of the foot to help absorb the impact of the step. As ever a Doctor or Physio would be best placed to help you identify the source of your problems. However here are a few things for you to check.
None of these should be considered in isolation. All of these can be symptoms of other problems but when considered together can start to build a picture. Take a look at this excellent explaination of the differeces between pronation and supination.
Strange Wear Patterns On Your Running (and other) Shoes
If your running shoes show signs of wear along the outer right hand edges. This may be an indicator of supination. They may have different wear patterns or they might wear out more quickly than you would expect.
Sprains, Splints And Fractures
Supination sufferers are prone to spraining their ankles, shin splints and even stress fractures. Simply because they do not benefit from the natural shock absorption that normal pronation provides.
Triggered Plantar Fasciitis
The plantar fascia is a tendon that runs the length of the underside of the foot. All too many runners know the pain that triggering this tendon can cause and supination can be that trigger.
Tight Muscles In the Lower Leg
If your lower leg muscles are like rocks then this could be an indicator of supination. They working overtime to compensate for the lack of shock absorption in the foot strike.
What Causes Supination
The causes are wide and varied and can be indicators of others issues. So again these should not be considered in isolation.
The Wrong Shoes
If you’ve had the same shoes for years. Or you’ve just started running a shiny new pair. You may have the wrong shoes for you.
You may have unconsciously modified the way you run to take pressure off an old injury. It may still be causing you pain and you’ve updated your gait to compensate. Or you are subconsciously scared to put pressure on the hamstring that went pop years ago.
There is a direct correlation between high arches and supination. However high arches are not necessarily a indicator of supination (and vice versa).
Form can cause supination. This is good news (bear with me) as form can be adjusted. Better that your form is causing the problem than a muscular skeletal issue.
A good running coach or specialist gym can help identify issues with your running form an give you drills to address those issues.
Alleviate The Symptoms of Supination
Once you’ve had your supination confirmed there are several things that you can do to minimize the problem..
A gait analysis will go a long way to establishing if you have supination or not. This may need to be a slightly more specialist analysis than you might get in your local running store to get an accurate result.
Limit Your Running
Now bear with me here.. Running too much too soon is not a good idea for anyone. If you are new to running and have experienced pain or discomfort as a result of supination. There is no question that you need to back off both speed and distance.
Give yourself a break, literally. The good news is you know the mileage you were running supination made itself know. Half that mileage and go from there. Start to increase by 10% only after you’ve had a few weeks without any issues.
Start With Strength
If you’ve stopped running and want to start again, do some lifting before you pound the streets again. Extra strength will give you greater stability in your feet and ankles. As well as strengthening your calves that will help absorb more of the foot impact.
Orthotics for Supination
Only in extreme cases should orthotics be considered. Only those specifically designed for the individual should be inserted into your shoes. I would not recommend testing a range of orthotics as you may introduce other issues or make your supination worse.
At best they will give an extra layer of cushioning.
Running Shoes for Supination
Neutral or stability shoes, that is the question. Theres no easy answer as there is no easy fix for supination. All of the things I’ve mentioned here will help the symptoms but will not fix the root cause of the problem.
Choose the shoe that is most comfortable for you. The shoe that alleviates the symptoms as much as possible for you. This will be a shoe with lots of cushioning and may be a neutral shoe that will flex in ways that your feet and lower legs will not.
What Sort of Running Shoes Can Help With Supination
The main characteristics you should look for in a running shoe are:
- Flexible. If you’ve been running in a stability shoe and have been experiencing pain. Try a neutral running shoe.
- Good shock absorbing and cushioning.
- Good arch support. High arches and supination often go hand in hand.
Check out these shoes as ideal candidates.
Conclusion: Best Running Shoes For Supination
While it might not be possible to fix supination it is certainly possible to alleviate the symptoms.
The tactics identified in this article give you some knowledge of the things you can do to identify and alleviate the symptoms of Supination.
If your symptoms are acute seek the help of a medical professional. For more information click here.
If you can manage they symptoms by stopping running for a few days but want to run more. Try some or all of the tactics identified above.