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What Is Pronation Control?

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  • Written By: Emily Daw
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 04 November 2016
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Pronation control generally refers to the arch support or other features of running shoes that keep a runner's foot from rolling out or too far in. Although some pronation — rolling inward as the foot strikes the ground — is normal and necessary for proper shock absorption, overpronation or underpronation, sometimes called supination, alter a person's stride and may lead to injury. A runner's tendency toward overpronation or underpronation may be discovered by a number of methods, including being observed by a running shoe specialist, running on a specialized treadmill, or measuring the arch of the foot while stationary. Shoes with pronation control are designed to compensate for overpronation or underpronation, but scientific studies about their necessity or efficacy are inconclusive.

Running shoes' pronation control can typically be categorized as maximum stability, moderate motion control, mild motion control, or neutral, depending on the amount of arch support. These variations are designed to correct a runner's overpronation or underpronation. They also allow the various parts of the shoe to wear out at approximately the same rate, depending on how the runner's pronation causes stress on the shoe. Maximum stability shoes have extra arch support and are designed to keep the arch from collapsing during running and leading to overpronation. Moderate or mild motion control shoes have a medium amount of support, while neutral shoes have no more support in the arch than in the rest of the shoe.

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Since 2010, however, many running specialists have begun to question the conventional wisdom of pronation control shoes. At least one study has found that assigning runners randomly to shoes with varying levels of pronation control did not lead to more injuries than assigning shoes based on the level of pronation. In fact, some people argue that running barefoot or in "minimalist" running shoes is actually the best way to correct overpronation or underpronation. According to this theory, specialized shoes tend to overcompensate for runners' weaknesses instead of allowing the muscles in the feet to be strengthened naturally by running.

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