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Pronation: What would you do without it?

As a massage therapist, kinesiology instructor, and author, Rick Merriam is a wealth of valuable knowledge.

Engaging Muscles is Rick's website. Next time you feel like going in-depth with reading, sit back with a cup (or two) of coffee and enjoying some of his articles. His latest is below:

As you proceed down the functional path to build the complete athlete, keep this analogy in mind. The way that force is imparted into the ground and the subsequent ground reaction go a long way to determine the quality of the athlete’s performance. The ability to use the ground effectively plays a significant role in injury prevention and rehabilitation. - Excerpt from Athletic Development by Vern Gambetta


Everybody that runs (or walks!) across planet Earth is an athlete. And the environment of your foot is super important to your overall function. If you have an artificial support obstructing your foot, the ground will not give an inch.

No matter what, the ground is still going to push up when you come down.

When you hear the term pronation, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Like most things in life, I guess it would depend on your perspective. In other words, where do you sit (or stand!), and what do you notice from your vantage point? With all of the information about whether a “traditional” running shoe is better than a lightweight minimal running shoe swirling about, you must have a frame of reference that you can pull from.

If you have ever taken a Kinesiology class, you have some science at your disposal. In other words, you can visualize pronation as a motion that involves your forearm rotating in. Just in case you are not familiar with the study of human movement, pronation of your forearm involves a combination of joints with essentially the same name. One joint sits right beside your funny bone, and allows for a pivoting of the adjacent bone. And the other joint is located farther down your forearm, right above your wrist. Just add a pulling force from a combination of muscles, and together both joints allow the bone that is located on the thumb side of your forearm to rotate in.

If you paid attention in your college class, you can most likely recall another time that the professor mentioned the term pronation. Yes, the same term was also used to describe a motion where the bottom of your foot is facing away from the midline of your body.

If you are not familiar with the motion that I’m referring to here, I invite you to feel the motion in your own body. It’s really easy to feel what I’m talking about. All you have to do is turn your foot out so that the inside edge of your foot is still in contact with the ground. And once again, a combination of muscles had to create a pulling force in order for every bone in front of your heel to turn in the same direction which is out (not in!), i.e., pronation.

I only mention that your foot is turning out because you might have heard that your foot is rolling in (too much!).

If you are not a runner, you are most certainly walking on a daily basis. Either way, you might see the term pronation very differently.

For you, it might be viewed as an apparent weakness throughout the arch of your foot. Like so many people, you have been told that you are overpronating.

The term overpronation has a nice ring to it. Do you agree?

And that is the idea. Not to point fingers, but let’s face it, there are fascinating stories all around the term overpronation.

And you are faced with a very difficult decision…what can you believe?

To say it another way, just because it’s a good story does not mean it is based on facts.

With that, I’m going to be very brave and go out on a limb: I’m betting that somebody in the walk-in specialty running shoe store told you that you needed that “stability” running shoe that you are currently wearing.

I’m also willing to bet this: they told you that your foot was rolling in too much on one side (which you now know is a turning out!). And just like that, you were not only given a label, you were also tucked away in a special category.

Let me guess; you were also told that your foot could no longer support itself. Then right on cue, you were informed that you need outside support that can only come from anything but your own body.

You could also describe this as a very harsh sentence for your feet and your entire chain.

And that is a very different story. A story that is based on the science of Biomechanics.

At this point, I feel I should tell you that there is a science that was made specifically for a specialty running shoe store. It was crafted in a land very far away. And then…there is real science.

The science that comes out of these specialty stores uses marketing lingo that can only be found on the pages of the running magazines.

These words are so obscure that you can’t even find them in an urban dictionary. I imagine every brand is hard at work to find the next best word that will sell a “stability” shoe that nobody needs. Meanwhile, there is a race to the bottom, and nobody can see the finish line.

All the while, the injuries are piling up right in front of their door.

Click here to continue reading!

You may also enjoy:
Does Pronation Matter?
Confessions of an "Over-Pronator"

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