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What is Supination?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2014
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Supination is a term used to describe a type of rotation involving the hand or the foot. When the term is applied to the hand, it describes the movement of the arm and hand that results in an upward-facing palm. When applied to the foot, the term refers to movement that results in the upward positioning of the sole of the foot. If the foot is supinated, the outer edge of the sole is used to carry the weight of the body.

Though the term supination can be used to refer to both hands and feet, it is often discussed in terms of running and walking. When running or walking, supination means the slight rolling of the foot that results in a tread leaning toward the outer edge of the foot. This movement can be beneficial, creating a rigid surface from which to push off when taking the next step. In fact, the foot supinates automatically during walking or running to provide leverage and assist with propelling the body forward.

Sometimes, supination can be excessive. This may be caused by a variety of factors. A very common cause of excessive supination is previous injury, such as a sprained ankle. In the case of such an injury, supination-limiting ligaments and tendons may be damaged, weakened, or even over-extended, leaving them vulnerable to excessive supination.

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An increased level of supination can cause significant problems. Often, it can cause the muscles and tendons that provide the ankle with stability to become overworked and strained. In turn, these muscles may allow the ankle to roll over completely, causing an ankle sprain, knee problems, or even ligament damage.

Though everyone supinates to a certain degree, some individuals seem predisposed to excessive supination. To discover whether or not you are given to excessive supination, start by examining your shoes. If you wear your shoes out more along the outside edge than other parts of your shoes, you may supinate too much. Likewise, calluses located on the outside edge of your foot can be indicative of excessive supination. Additionally, an abnormally large joint between your little toe and the rest of your foot can be a sign of excessive supination.

If you learn that you are prone to excessive supination, it is important to ensure that your footwear is properly fitted. Keep in mind that regular shoe stores may not be able to assist you. Instead, look for a shoe store that is equipped to analyze your running and walking gait. Besides well-fitting shoes, such things as custom foot beds and orthotic equipment may help. In severe cases, physical therapy may be beneficial as well.

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Perdido
Post 4

I’ve heard this term before in reference to turning the palms up. I have read a lot of instructions for doing a variety of workouts, and several of them said to supinate the hands.

I actually had to go look the term up, because I had no trainer to explain it to me. It sounds like a fancy word for something so simple. Why couldn’t they just say to turn your palms up?

When it’s referring to the hands, it’s something you have control over. When it’s talking about the feet, it’s a negative term for an involuntary way of walking.

lighth0se33
Post 3

It isn’t always necessary to buy supination shoes. I rely on insoles to correct mine, and they work just fine.

I have found that supination shoes can be very expensive. I went to a nice shoe store and looked around, but every pair of this type was well over $100, and I just don’t have that kind of budget.

So, the lady at the store recommended lateral wedge insoles. They have thicker material along the outer edges to redistribute my body weight to where it is supposed to be, in the middle of my feet.

They only cost $25, and I can wear them in several different pairs of shoes. So, it’s as if I have converted all my shoes to supination shoes!

wavy58
Post 2

@seag47 - My husband and I just went to an outdoor supply store, and the guy who works in the shoe department sold my husband some running shoes for supinators. We didn’t even know what supination was until we went there looking for a comfortable work shoe for my husband, who has to walk briskly all day on concrete in a warehouse.

The salesman had my husband walk a straight line, and he observed the tilt of his foot. He told him that he had a slight supination, so we went with the shoe designed to support this.

It turns out that the salesman was wrong. The shoes were horribly uncomfortable, and my husband said he felt like he was walking on rocks all day. The supportive area was padded in such a way that it would drive a person with normal feet crazy!

Luckily, we had a 30-day money back guarantee, so we returned the shoes. He got a regular pair and they felt wonderfully comfortable.

seag47
Post 1

I wonder if I have supination of the feet? It has always been hard for me to find comfortable shoes, and this just might be why. I need to find out.

How does someone analyze your gait? What exactly do they have you do, and what do they look for?

Is it something that I could do at home with another person to watch me, or does it have to be done by a professional? I would be so relieved to find out that this has been my issue all along, because maybe then I could finally get the right type of shoe. I’m so tired of having foot and ankle pains all the time.

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