The Science of Stepping

At the core, walking and and running seem pretty simple --it's just putting one foot in front of the other. Right? Wrong! Everyone's gait is unique and different. And everyone has different needs when it comes to athletic shoes and support. An article at delves into the science behind common running issues.

The Stretching Handbook: "The two conditions we are going to concentrate on in this issue are pronation and supination. These two terms refer to a foots natural rolling movement while walking or running. This motion is sometimes called the running gait, and is described at the New Balance web site as...
"A unique set of actions and reactions that your foot performs while in motion to support, cushion and balance your body."

Pronation refers to the inward roll of the foot during normal motion and occurs as the outer edge of the heel strikes the ground and the foot rolls inward and flattens out. A moderate amount of pronation is required for the foot to function properly, however damage and injury can occur during excessive pronation. When excessive pronation does occur the foot arch flattens out and stretches the muscles, tendons and ligaments underneath the foot. Supination is the opposite of pronation and refers to the outward roll of the foot during normal motion. A natural amount of supination occurs during the push-off phase of the running gait as the heel lifts off the ground and the forefoot and toes are used to propel the body forward. However, excessive supination (outward rolling) places a large strain on the muscles and tendons that stabilize the ankle, and can lead to the ankle rolling completely over, resulting in an ankle sprain or total ligament rupture. Some of the common injuries related to pronated and supinated gates include arch pain, heel pain, flat feet, shin splints and achilles tendonitis. Check out KT Tape's application for achilles tendonitis. The best way to figure out if you're a neutral, overpronator  or oversupinator runner is to head to your local running specialty running store for a Treadmill Gait Analysis.