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Overpronation and Underpronation: Can A Heel Insert Help?


The human body is a complex instrument. It requires a variety of systems working in concert to achieve even the most basic movements.

Take walking for example. With each step, the outside of the heel strikes the ground. That absorbed force is then redistributed to the center of the heel, forward along the outside of the foot, and across the ball of the foot toward the big toe.

The ankle, knee, and hip follow the inward roll of the foot to provide the most efficient, balanced, and shock-absorbing stride possible. If this pattern is disrupted in any way, it can lead to chronic pain for the individual.

Today, we’ll discuss the gait disruptions known as overpronation and underpronation along with a simple tool to get your gait back on track.

What is overpronation?

The more common of the two pronation problems we’ll discuss today, overpronation occurs when one’s ankle rolls too far inward with each step. People with low arches, flat feet, or highly flexible feet often suffer from this condition.

The foot naturally rolls inward while walking. However, when it rolls inward more than 15% from a relaxed position, the strain on the surrounding muscles and joints can lead to fatigue, plantar fasciitis, or arch collapse.

What is underpronation (or oversupination)?

The scientific term for a joint rolling inward is pronation while the term for a joint rolling outward in supination. As inverse terms, the words “underpronation” and “oversupination” are interchangeable. For the purposes of this article, we will use the more common term “underpronation.”

Underpronation occurs when the foot rolls too far outward. This motion disrupts the shock absorption of a properly pronated gait, putting unnecessary pressure on the ankle and toes. People with high arches, tight Achilles tendons, or those who wear unsupportive shoes are at risk of underpronation. The condition can cause IT band syndrome, heel spurs, and Achilles tendinitis.

Am I an over- or under-pronator?

Here are two simple ways to discover if your gait is aligned correctly:

Shoe Check

Inspect the wear pattern on the bottom of your shoes. If the shoe is worn down heavily on the far outside edge of the shoe, you may be affected by underpronation. If the shoe is worn down along the inside of your heel and ball of your foot, you may be dealing with overpronation.

Water Test

If you don’t have a good pair of shoes to check for wear, try the water test. Lay down a piece of cardboard and step on it with slightly wet feet. When you step off, your footprint will look like one of the patterns above. If the center segment of your footprint is either very wide or very thin, you could have a pronation condition.

The Warwick Wedge™ can help.

The Warwick Wedge™ is an over-the-counter orthotic insole designed to correct misalignment caused by overpronation or underpronation. With a 4-degree angle and reversible design, the wedge relieves pain and stiffness in the lower back, legs, ankles and feet caused by an improperly pronated foot. The Warwick Wedge™ is available in three sizes and is sold individually on our website.