What is supination?
As part of a normal stride, your rear-foot should roll to the inside of the foot after your heel hits the ground. This is called pronation. Natural pronation cushions impact and helps you adapt to uneven surfaces.
If your foot doesn’t roll in far enough, or seems to roll outward, that’s supination. This places extra stress on your foot and leg that can cause problems elsewhere. That’s because the shockwave from your heel striking the ground isn’t absorbed properly and the outside of your foot bears the full force of your step’s impact.
Supination is common among people with high arches or tight Achilles tendons (the stretchy bands of tissue that connect your calf muscles to your heels). This can happen to boxers because we like to train a lot on the jump rope. If jump rope technique is flawed (jumping with bent knees for example), habitual patterns can place excess pressure on the outsides of the feet.
Repeated impact forces can affect not only the feet, but the muscles and joints of the legs, hips and back. Overall body alignment suffers. Heel bone, leg, thighbone and hip rotate outwards, resulting in posterior tilting of the pelvis. This habitual outward rotating of the legs and sagging of the core, also occurs due to excessive sitting. Combine unsupported sitting habits with unsupported standing and walking habits, and you have a self perpetuating pattern of collapsed posture. This increases the risk of ankle sprains, knee problems, stress fractures, shin splints, and back pain.
Here is an easy way to assess if you are a supinator. Step both feet onto the foam roller half cylinders we have at the gym. Stand naturally and look down at you feet. Are they rolling outwards? If so, you are a supinator!
Strengthening the inner head of the gastrocnemius (calf muscle on the big toe side of the leg) can help reassert muscular balance. Try this simple exercise called a Heel Stepdown:
Stand and take a step forward as if you are walking. When you place your foot forward, stop the motion when your heel hits the floor. Instead of rolling forward onto the ball of your foot, suspend the front of your foot about 1 or 2 inches from the floor and hold the position for a count of 10. Return the foot to the starting position and repeat 15 times. Repeat the exercise on the other foot.
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