How do I know what my pronation is – and why does it matter?

If you’ve ever visited a running shop to buy new shoes, you’ve probably heard the term pronation being discussed.

For nearly 50 years it’s been one of the key aspects of running technique used by running shoe manufacturers, retailers and runners to design, sell and choose shoes. But what exactly is it, how do you discover how you pronate when you run, and does it really matter?

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What is pronation

Pronation is the inward rolling movement of the foot as it lands, shifting pressure from the outside of the foot to the inside. It’s one of the body’s mechanisms for absorbing the impact of running.

There are three main types of pronation:

  • Over pronation – an excessive inward roll
  • Under pronation – not enough inward roll
  • Neutral pronation – a medium amount of inward roll

For a long time it’s been thought that the extremes of over or under pronation increase your injury risk. While the evidence for pronation as an injury factor isn’t as clear-cut as first thought, studies suggest most runners will benefit from aiming for neutral pronation where possible, particularly if they suffer from persistent lower-leg niggles.

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How NURVV can help you monitor your pronation

NURVV Run’s Pronation Profile feature is designed to continuously trace your pronation on both the left and the right foot as you run. It shows you how you pronate on different surfaces and gradients, highlights differences between each foot and lets you know whether your pronation remains consistent for the duration of your run or changes as you fatigue. This can help you understand the factors that affect your own pronation pattern and can also prove useful when buying new shoes.

When you’re buying new shoes, you’re often offered gait analysis. After a short run on a treadmill sales assistants then recommend shoes based on your pronation style. Neutral, stability and motion-control shoes are just some of the choices designed for varying amounts of pronation.

The trouble is, gait analysis doesn’t always give the full picture. Your running technique naturally varies between indoor and outdoor runs. It can also take more than a few minutes to become accustomed to a different pair of shoes and for your genuine pronation characteristics to arise. Some people also find their pronation can change in certain footwear as they fatigue.

If you want to get a good idea of your true technique then, it pays to monitor it away from the shop floor and get a continuous measure of pronation taken over as many steps of running as possible.

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Can footwear really make a difference to your pronation?

If you’re wondering whether your shoes make much difference to your pronation take a look at these graphs using NURVV Run’s Pronation Profile feature.

Using different shoes for different runs, with Pronation Profile you’re able to monitor how your footwear choice – cushioned versus lightweight or neutral shoes for example – can impact your pronation during the course of a run.

Pronation Profile monitors your pronation continuously so you can see where any changes occur and whether your pronation characteristics are the same at the beginning of a run as they are when you’re fatigued at the end.

In these graphs, our runner completed two runs in different footwear. In shoe A, shown in the graph below on the left, they show a tendency to over pronate, which is more marked on the left foot. This trend increases as they tire.

Running the same course in shoe B, shown in the graph below on the right, they have a more neutral pronation that stays constant throughout the run, making shoe B a better choice.

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