Over-Pronation for Hikers and Trail Runners


London Reflexology Poster

Over-Pronation Defined

Simply put, over-pronation is an excessive or poorly timed pronation which is part of the regular stride. Pronation is when the foot rolls inwards and the arch compresses as part of your normal walking motion. Pronation is necessary for shock absorption to transmit forces up and down our legs. When someone over-pronates, the foot rolls inwards to a greater degree and the arch flattens: this causes the knee and hip to come out of alignment and reduces the function of all the bones in the feet.

Over-Pronation Self-Diagnosis

A quick way to see if you over-pronate is to look for these signs

  • While standing straight with bare feet on the floor, look so see if the inside of your arch or sole touches the floor.
  • Take a look at your hiking or running shoes; look for wear on the inside of the sole
  • Wet your feet and walk on a surface that will show the foot mark. If you have a neutral foot you should see your heel connected to the ball of your foot by a mark roughly half of width of your sole. If you over-pronate you will see greater than half and up to the full width of your sole.

In my case, I have a neutral foot standing and walking without weight. For me to over-pronate I have to either run greater than 3 miles (give or take) or carry weight on my back. I also do not over-pronate to the extent that simple over the counter insoles, or shoes with gentle correction can’t correct the issue.

This means I look for shoes that have extra or strong Medial support. Many running shoes have extra firm material on the inside of arch, meaning this area of the shoe will compress less than the other areas.

I have had a more difficult time finding this support in hiking boots and trail runners. While Superfeet are a great help, they are not enough alone for most hiking footwear that I have tried.

Hiking Shoe Manufacturers

My personal hope is that hiking shoe manufacturers will make it easier to identify which shoes and boots provide extra support for pronators in future hiking footwear. As hiking footwear trends towards running shoes, it should follow the running shoe innovation towards correcting for the non-neutral foot (over-pronation & over-supination.) Someday, we should be able to easily “know” which brands correct for which condition, just like it is common knowledge with running shoes today.

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