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How to Tell Pronation from Shoe Wear and Other Effective Ways

How to Tell Pronation from Shoe Wear and Other Effective Ways

For people who like to work out or run regularly, they cannot really compromise on any aspect when it comes to their shoes. That is why knowing how to tell pronation from shoe wear and by using other methods to determine pronation are essential to avoid an issue in your ankles, knees, hips, and lower back. Having a good understanding of your degree of pronation will allow you to select shoes appropriately the next time.

What Is Pronation?

If you are in the company of sports podiatrists, veteran runners, coaches, or even running store staff, the term pronation is something you are most likely going to hear. A lot of people assume that running is a physical act which involves putting your one foot in front of the other foot. However, it isn’t this simple—running is sort of a complex biomechanical process involving:

  • Most runners will first strike the pavement on the outside of their heel.
  • This is followed with the rest of the foot coming down and rolling slightly inwards as it meets the surface. This downwards and inwards roll rotation is known as pronation.
  • In the end, the heel will lift off the ground when the runner will propel themselves off the ball of the foot and toes. This applies the necessary force to move forward. This process done repeatedly makes a person a runner.

Pronation is not a bad thing as it will help your legs and feet absorb all the shock. That said, if there is excess pronation, that is rolling in too much, it can cause an increased risk in injury. This is known as overpronation. Typically, runners who have a flat foot and those with bowed legs top the list of people with overpronation woes.

Another issue that is not as frequent is under pronation. Under-pronators will typically have an inflexible foot or even one with a high arch. When they land on their feet, they do not make much of a rolling-in motion. So, what happens to such runners is a whole lot of pounding force.

How to Tell Pronation from Shoe Wear?

It is important to note that about 15% of pronation is actually what is ideal for a runner. This will allow the force of the impact to be evenly distributed when you run or walk which essentially will act as a shock absorber. There is a simple way you can tell pronation from the shoe wear.

When you go for a regular walk, your heel will strike the pavement a little on the lateral edge or its outside, which is why the soles on that part of the shoe will be particularly more worn. If you find the shoe’s soles more worn right in the middle of the heel area or on the medial edge or the inside of the posterior sole, then the chances of you pronating while walking is quite high.

These wear patterns will be easier to notice on older running shoes that have rubber soles as they tend to wear down quicker. Also, bear in mind that these wear patterns present on the extreme outside of the shoe’s posterior sole may indicate way too much rigidity on the arch of the foot or in the ankle which is a complete lack of normal pronation. This is referred to as over-supination.

How to Tell Pronation Without Shoes?

You can also easily determine pronation without looking at your shoes.

A. Running Speed

One is that people who tend to over-pronate aren’t exactly fast runners as their feet and ankles collapse and do not transmit force up to the legs.

B. Space Underneath the Foot

You can also determine pronation by checking the space that is present underneath the foot.

  1. Begin by standing upright; you will find that there should be some amount of space present between the floor and the bottom of your foot. Ideally, you should be able to insert a finger easily in this gap.
  2. Grab a friend or your partner and ask them to insert their finger in that space while you continue standing upright. If they are capable of inserting a single finger in that gap without any difficulty or without causing you any discomfort, then you most likely have normal arches.
  3. If in case there isn’t any space at all to insert your finger, then it is highly possible that you have flat feet. This may be or will be caused by to over-pronation.

When you do this at home, ensure that you are doing this with bare feet while you stand on a firm floor such as linoleum, tile, or marble. Just because your arches appear to be normal when you stand does not guarantee that you also have normal pronation when you walk. In the same way, just because you have flat feet does not necessarily indicate that you will definitely over-pronate.

C. Using a Cardboard

Another quick and straightforward way to determine pronation is by wetting your feet and walking on cardboard.

  1. Simply start by wetting or dampening the bottom of your feet with water.
  2. Place some cardboard on the floor and walk over it. Ensure that your wet footprint is clearly visible on the cardboard.
  3. Once you get a clear, wet print of your feet on the cardboard, carefully examine the prints of both the feet.

A good arch with reasonable amounts of pronation will leave a print of your heel which is connected to the front forefoot through a strip that would be about half of the width of your foot on the outside of your sole. If you over-pronate, it will be very evident as your entire foot will be seen on the cardboard.


You would assume that knowing how to tell pronation from shoe wear would be a difficult task. However, we are certain that with this article, you will easily be able to determine from your older shoes how much you pronate. If you don’t have any old shoe, try out the other methods as well.

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