Our feet are the hardest working parts of our body. Not only are they responsible for our movement from one place to another, they also need to balance the body and maintain a comfortable gait. So how do our feet maintain a proper balance as we grow taller every year since the time we are born till we reach our maximum height?
A baby cannot balance on its feet and topples over when it tries to walk. What makes their feet adjust to the weight of the baby’s body? What do the terms supination and pronation mean? What are the best walking shoes for supination? These are some of the questions which we will try to answer here today.
Every action, Newton said, has an equal and opposite reaction. Same applies to the motion of our feet when we walk or run. Though the basic procedure of walking and running is almost the same, but there are slight changes in the way your feet react when you run as opposed to when you are walking normally.
If you think over it, you will understand what we are trying to imply here. When you walk, all your legs have to do is balance your body weight and take every step forward in a straight line (if you are not drunk, that is!). However, when you run, your posture automatically changes to a low stoop and your feet barely touch the ground here (imagine how Usain Bolt looks on a racing track!).
Thus it is quite obvious that our feet go through a set of ‘actions’ and ‘equal and opposite reactions’ while they take our bodies forward to wherever we want to go. This set of action and reactions have been given medical terms to make it easier for podiatrists and athletes to understand the differences between these actions and reactions.
There are two basic types of gait-control or balance-enhancing mechanisms that our feet resort to while we walk. These are called:
When you are all set for a run, have you noticed how the front part of your feet always push off the ground when your body takes off for the sprint? This outward ‘roll’ of your feet is exactly what supination refers to.
When supination occurs, the pressure of your entire body is concentrated on the fore-foot. This happens one foot at a time obviously and so the pressure increases as we run because your whole body supports on that one fore-foot which you are pushing towards the ground to give you the acceleration required.
Now this is an absolutely natural procedure that is inevitable if we want to push our bodies forward but anything in excess is never good. When there is too much supination happening (as is the case with racing athletes), the tendons and ligaments of the ankles of our feet undergo a lot of strain. This can result in torn ligaments or sprained muscles, which often happens to athletes and marathon runners.
Supination also occurs in people with high-arched feet (or cavus feet as they are commonly known, see my guide about the top walking shoes for high arches). This type of feet generally has an abnormally high ‘arch’ (the portion between the front-foot and the heel). Supination is also referred to as under-pronation. To understand that you need to know what is pronation.
What exactly does pronation mean?
Well, as you might have guessed already, pronation is the opposite of supination. Pronation basically refers to the ‘inward rolling movement’ of your feet when you push your heel into the ground after a ‘supination’. When there is over-pronation, the arch of your foot tends to flatten out and this again causes much stress and strain to the various feet muscles, tendons and ligaments.
The basic differences between supination and pronation are as follows:
As with anything else, both these movements need to be in perfect balance with each other for our bodies to maintain a comfortable, painless walking or running gait. This is, however, easier said than done.
Under-pronation or supination is a problem that affects millions of unfortunate people around the world who are born with high-arched feet or ‘cavus feet’.
To help you with your supination and over-pronation issues, shoe manufacturers have come up with some outstanding shoes that help tremendously in reducing pains and ligament-tear issues while running or brisk-walking. These shoes offer a wide range of benefits when it comes to cushioning, balancing and correcting your gait.
Some of the special features that these shoes come with include:
These can be divided into three broad categories:
Cushioning shoes: Focuses on providing the ultimate cushioning for special type of feet like yours.
Stability enhancing: Mainly for athletes who require greater stability while running.
Grip-enhancing: Focuses on increasing the grip of your feet on the ground while you go for a jog or a brisk-walk.
To choose the best type for your particular needs, you should research on the various kinds of shoes that are found in the market. Some of the more well-known brands are Asics, New Balance, Brooks, Ryka and Saucony.
Let us take a look at some of these shoes and give you an over-view of what these shoes offer in terms of cushioning, balancing and stability.
The Asics Quickwalk 2 comes with some amazing features. Perhaps that is why it is also the most popular ‘anti-supination’ shoe in the market right now. Some of the basic features of this shoe include:
Ryka is a shoe manufacturer that has gained world-wide acclaim as a company ‘by women and for women’. This makes it very popular amongst women customers and the affordability of Ryka shoes adds to its popularity in the market. It is packed with some great features like:
This is yet another amazing shoe from the house of Saucony. The advanced technology of these shoes, combined with great comfort and stability make them one of the best walking shoes for supination.
Some features that are worth mentioning here include:
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