What is Ankle Pronation?

Dawna Theo

Ankle pronation occurs when the outer edge of the heel hits the ground first, causing a person to roll his or her foot to the instep or arch. It can cause pain and foot problems, including injuries to the ankle, feet, and ligaments. Purchasing correct shoes and buying shoe inserts could prevent this problem, and learning stretching techniques may help lesson the possibility of ankle injury.

Daily stretching can help keep the ankle strong and flexible.
Daily stretching can help keep the ankle strong and flexible.

Pronation is the opposite of supination. Ankle pronation is characterized as the inward roll of the foot, while supination is the outward roll. Both conditions usually are caused by heredity or a congenital defect. To see if a person pronates his ankle, another person can stand behind him while he is barefoot and look at the ankle and leg. If he pronates, the Achilles tendon may bow inward and the inner ankle bone may protrude more than the outer ankle bone.

Custom shoe insoles may help to minimize ankle pronation.
Custom shoe insoles may help to minimize ankle pronation.

Overpronation may cause damage to the tendons and ligaments of the foot, leading to fallen arches and possible plantar fasciitis, an inflammation in a band of tissue in the bottom of the foot. When one part of the body is out of alignment, other body parts may be affected, including the hips, knees, and lower back. The symptoms of this condition include flat feet, heel pain, Achilles tendinitis, arch pain, corns, and calluses.

A podiatrist may recommend special shoes to correct ankle pronation.
A podiatrist may recommend special shoes to correct ankle pronation.

A podiatrist or qualified foot doctor typically can diagnose ankle pronation by doing a gait analysis. He will watch how the foot strikes the ground while walking and running to see which way the ankle rolls. Another test is to look at the soles of an old pair of shoes and see where they are worn down. People that overpronate may have excessive wear on the inner side of the shoe.

Ankle pronation may cause injuries when running.
Ankle pronation may cause injuries when running.

Having the correct shoes could prevent foot problems. A podiatrist may recommend special shoes, which are typically firm on the midsole with an arch support, to control the inward roll of the foot and prevent overpronation. There are running shoes that are made specifically for people who pronate their ankles. A podiatrist may recommend buying orthotics or shoe inserts to support the arch, stabilize the foot, and prevent pronation.

There are various exercises that warm up the muscles and tendons of the foot and ankle, helping prevent injuries.
There are various exercises that warm up the muscles and tendons of the foot and ankle, helping prevent injuries.

Warm, flexible muscles usually are important in preventing injuries to the feet and ankles. Ankle-circle exercises can be used to warm up the muscles, tendons, and ligaments, helping to increase blood flow to the area. A daily stretching routine can help keep the ankle strong and flexible. Yoga or stretching classes can help keep a person flexible, and help avoid stiffness and injury.

Supination is the outward roll of the foot, also known as underpronation.
Supination is the outward roll of the foot, also known as underpronation.

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Discussion Comments

anon984015

I've had lower back and knee pain for five years now. This year I tore everything in my ankle except the bone, after looking through my personal health record I discovered as a 3 year old I had ankle pronation. Not knowing what it was I googled it and found this article. Amazing.

healthy4life

I started having ankle pain from pronation a few years ago. I didn't even know that I rolled my feet inward until a doctor told me.

I had to get some insoles with major arch support. It's hard to find shoes that have enough support in this area for me.

I have to wear dress shoes to work, so there aren't a lot of comfortable options. I have to buy some that can hide my supportive insoles well, so some of the cuter options are off limits to me.

OeKc05

@JackWhack – Sometimes, these shoe salesmen can be wrong. My husband had to buy some running shoes for work, and the salesman at the store told him that he had pronation of the ankle.

We had never heard of this before, but after watching my husband walk in his socks, the salesman seemed pretty sure that he did it. So, he convinced my husband to buy these $130 running shoes for people with ankle pronation.

They felt all right when he tried them on, but after he had worked in them all day, he said they were the most uncomfortable shoes he had ever worn. He said that the support felt as hard as a rock, and it was in a weird place.

Luckily, the store had a 30-day return policy. We were able to take them back and exchange them for a normal pair, and we got a partial refund.

JackWhack

Shoe salesmen can also determine if someone has pronation of the ankle. My dad works at a shoe store, and he always gets customers to take off their shoes and walk down the aisle before advising them on which kind of shoes to buy.

All he has to do is watch the way that their feet roll, if they roll at all. Several brands of running shoes have versions that are available for people with ankle pronation. If a person who didn't have this condition bought those shoes, he would find them extremely uncomfortable, so it is important that the salesman advise customers in this area.

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