/ 12 min

How to Correct Overpronation: 10 Exercises to Try

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By: KURU Footwear

With every step we take, dozens of anatomical structures work in harmony to create our walking pattern—or gait. Our feet alone are made up of 52 total bones as well as hundreds of ligaments, muscles, and tendons. Add that to all of the bones, muscles, joints, and tendons that makeup our legs and hips, and we’ve got a true marvel of biology, step after simple step.

While the majority of adults develop a “neutral” walking pattern, some can develop under or overpronation in their stride, where the arch and ankle roll too far inward or outward as they walk.

In fact, about 21% of adults experience some type of overpronation, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. This gait pattern can increase the risk of injury or certain foot pain conditions over time, including plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, ankle sprains, shin splints, and more.

So how can we help our feet achieve a healthier gait? Let’s dig into how to correct overpronation with 10 simple exercises for happier feet!

Key Takeaways

  • Overpronation refers to a walking pattern in which the arch and ankle roll too far inward. Supination refers to a walking pattern in which the arch and ankle roll too far outward.
  • Overpronation can lead to misalignment of the bones, joints, ligaments, and tendons of the foot, leading to painful foot, ankle, and knee conditions.
  • Overpronation can be improved and even corrected through exercises, physical therapy, orthotics, and supportive shoes with arch support and a deep heel cup.

Understanding Overpronation

Here’s a simple test: Have you ever taken a peek at the wear pattern on the soles of your footwear? Find your nearest shoe that you’ve worn for a few months, and you’ll likely be able to see areas of more wear and tear than others.

If you notice extra wear and tear on the inner edges of the heel or arch of the shoe, you likely experience some level of overpronation. Since overpronation results in misalignment of the bones, tendons, and muscles of the foot, this can lead to a variety of foot pain conditions and can even cause issues farther up the anatomical chain—including back, hip, and knee pain.

But there are actions you can take to lead to a healthier stride! Physical therapy, orthotic inserts, or shoes with plenty of arch support and a deep heel cup, and at-home exercise can help your body achieve a more neutral gait.

Learn more about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of overpronation here.

Overpronation vs. Underpronation

So how can you spot the difference between overpronation and underpronation—or pronation and supination of the foot?

While both supination and pronation of the foot are considered abnormal walking patterns, there are a few ways to help distinguish foot pronation vs. supination.

Overpronation, or simply pronation, is the excessive rolling inward of the arch and ankle by more than 15 percent and is often associated with fallen arches, low arches, and flat feet, and an increased risk for stress fractures and runner’s knee.

Underpronation, or supination, is the excessive rolling outward of the arch and ankle by more than 15 percent and is often associated with high arches and tight Achilles tendons, and an increased risk for IT band syndrome and ankle instability.

Both foot supination and pronation can lead to plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, and other foot and knee pain. But there are a variety of ways to help cultivate a more neutral walking pattern for almost any foot type. Read on to learn 10 exercises you can add to your routine for a healthier gait.

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10 Exercises to Correct Overpronation

Now that we’ve unpacked foot supination vs pronation and how each one is linked to foot and overall body health, let’s take a look at how to correct overpronation with exercise!

While we always recommend first speaking with your doctor for a unique diagnosis and treatment plan, here are 10 simple at-home exercises you can add to your routine to help you cultivate a healthier gait.

Heel Raises

When beginning your journey of how to correct overpronation of the foot, building strength in the feet, ankles, and calves is a fantastic place to start.

Muscle strength plays a large role in the stability of the foot while walking, so the stronger our feet and ankles, the easier we can help control and correct our gait.

Heel raises are a simple yet effective exercise to strengthen the calf muscles and improve foot and ankle stability.

  • Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Slowly raise your heels off the ground, pushing through the balls of your feet.
  • Hold for a few seconds, then lower your heels back to the ground.
  • Repeat 10–15 times.

Arch Lifts

To be at their healthiest, arches need to be strong. A study published in PubMed found that strengthening the abductor hallucis muscle (an intrinsic foot muscle at the bottom of our arch) can help support the arches. Supported, healthy arches lead to improved alignment and injury prevention.

This exercise targets the arches of the feet, helping to prevent them from collapsing.

  • Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the ground.
  • Without lifting your toes, try to raise the arch of your foot.
  • Hold for a few seconds, then relax.
  • Repeat 10–15 times on each foot.

 Towel Scrunches

Another beneficial exercise for flat feet, fallen arches, and those with overpronation are towel scrunches. 

Towel scrunches can help strengthen the muscles in the toes and the arch of the foot, providing increasing flexibility, strength, and stability for better walking alignment..

  • Place a towel on the floor and sit on a chair.
  • Using only your toes, try to scrunch the towel towards you.
  • Release and repeat 10–15 times.

Ankle Circles

When joints are mobile and well-lubricated, they are better able to function as they are meant to. Adequate range of motion in the ankle can help us maintain proper mechanics while walking, running, or jumping.

Ankle circles improve ankle mobility and flexibility, reducing the chances of overpronation.

  • Sit or lie down with one leg extended.
  • Rotate your ankle in a circular motion, both clockwise and counterclockwise.
  • Do this for 30 seconds in each direction, then switch to the other foot.

Toe Tapping

The anterior tibialis—one of our main shin muscles—is another muscle that helps support our ankles and arches as we walk. Its main function is to dorsiflex (or flex) the foot, which happens with every step we take. 

Since overpronated individuals are more susceptible to shin splints, maintaining strength in the shin muscles can help avoid this injury and increase stability, balance, coordination, and even athletic performance.

Toe tapping is an excellent exercise for activating and strengthening the shin muscles.

  • Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the ground.
  • Lift the toes of one foot and then tap them on the ground repeatedly.
  • Do this for 30 seconds, then switch to the other foot.

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Band Resisted Ankle Inversion

Another arch and shin strengthener, banded resisted ankle inversions help to strengthen the deep intrinsic muscles of the arch to help stabilize the feet and correct overpronation.

This exercise uses a resistance band to strengthen the muscles responsible for foot inversion.

  • Sit on the floor with your legs extended.
  • Wrap a resistance band around your foot and hold the ends with your hands.
  • Turn your foot inwards against the resistance of the band.
  • Repeat 10–15 times on each foot.

Single Leg Balance

Proprioception is essentially a brain-body connection. It allows us to know and feel where our bodies are “in space” without looking at that part of our body. Exercises that help to increase proprioceptive awareness can improve our balance, stability, and confidence during activity—especially during one-legged movements.

Since even walking requires a small amount of single leg movement, training our balance in this way can help us remain well balanced and aligned.

This single leg balance exercise can help improve overall foot stability and proprioception.

  • Stand on one foot, keeping the other foot off the ground.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds to a minute.
  • Switch to the other foot and repeat.

Walking on Sand

Anytime we walk on an uneven surface, we naturally challenge and strengthen the muscles of the feet. Our muscles must continuously adapt to their changing foundation, which requires them to engage more than usual, improving strength over time.

Walking on sand can be a simple yet effective exercise to help build intrinsic foot strength, which is a way we know how to correct overpronation.

  • Find a sandy area, like a beach or sandbox.
  • Walk barefoot, focusing on maintaining a proper foot alignment.
  • Do this for 10–15 minutes.

Calf Stretch

Tight calf muscles and Achilles tendons can contribute to overpronation. It’s crucial to consistently stretch the calves to maintain healthy calves, Achilles tendons, arches, and plantar fascia.

A simple calf stretch is a simple yet effective exercise you can seamlessly add to your daily routine.

  • Stand facing a wall with your hands pressed against it.
  • Step one foot back and press the heel into the ground.
  • Hold for 20–30 seconds, then switch to the other foot.

Foam Rolling

Keeping our bodies’ fascia mobile can help prevent adhesions that can restrict movement and mobility. Healthy fascia is pliant and easily glides over our muscle fibers.

Foam rolling calves and legs can help release tight fascia and muscles and improve foot posture.

  • Sit on the floor with a foam roller under your calf.
  • Roll back and forth, applying pressure to any tight spots.
  • Do this for 1–2 minutes on each leg.
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Other Approaches to Correcting Overpronation

We’ve just looked at ways of how to correct overpronation running and walking through exercise. Let’s dive into several more ways to help encourage a healthy, more neutral walking pattern.

Supportive Shoes

Wearing supportive shoes with plenty of arch support, a deep heel cup, and shock-absorbing cushion can help correct overpronation and underpronation. While it may be tempting to only wear quality shoes for exercise, wearing supportive shoes throughout the day—and even at home—can help you maintain a healthy foot alignment and reduce painful symptoms of overpronation over time.

Physical Therapy

Seeing a physical therapist is a perfect step to correcting overpronation. A physical therapist will assess your specific condition and create an individualized exercise plan that matches your needs. A physical therapist may also prescribe the type of footwear that would be best for your unique foot and be a consistent touch point with you to help map your progress.

Ankle Braces

If overpronation is causing significant pain or you have an acute injury, ankle braces may be prescribed by your doctor or physical therapist. We recommend only using ankle braces if it is prescribed by a doctor, since they may reduce the work the muscles are doing, which can risk weakness in the long term.

Gait Analysis

For some overpronation or supination cases, it may be helpful to get a gait analysis from a qualified professional. They will analyze your walking pattern and notice any misaligned joints, muscle imbalances, and improper body mechanics so you can work toward a healthier stride.

Weight Management

A sudden increase in weight can lead to a flattening of the arch over time and an increased risk for overpronation. Keeping your weight in a healthy, consistent place in adulthood can help maintain healthy foot posture.

Regular Foot Check-ups

Our feet change as we age, vary our activity levels, and use different types of footwear. Getting consistent foot check-ups from a podiatrist can help ensure you have the most up-to-date care for your feet.

FAQs

  • Can you naturally correct overpronation?

    Yes, in many cases you can! While we always recommend first speaking with your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment plan, it has been shown that foot exercises, physical therapy, and wearing supportive footwear can help correct overpronation over time. In fact, there was a study completed on overpronated individuals that showed an improvement of their symptoms after a 9-week program of therapeutic exercises. Although it will take time, effort, and consistency, it is possible to correct overpronation in many cases!

  • How do you reverse foot pronation?

    Reversing foot pronation requires commitment and consistency to an exercise program, guidance from a physical therapist, and wearing supportive shoes. It is possible to help correct or even reverse foot pronation, but it will likely be a lifestyle change in order to maintain healthy foot alignment.

  • What causes overpronation?

    There are a variety of causes for overpronation, including having flat feet, low arches, or fallen arches. Those who work on their feet all day are also more likely to suffer from foot problems such as overpronation, flattened arches, and plantar fasciitis. In fact, it’s been found that up to 70% of teachers suffer from overpronation to varying degrees.

  • What is more common overpronation or underpronation?

    Overpronation is more common than underpronation. It is estimated that a much larger portion of the population is prone to rolling their arch and ankle inward than outward.

  • How do I tell if I overpronate or underpronate?

    There are a couple simple tests you can do at home to discover whether you over or underpronate. First, look at the wear patterns on your footwear. Those who have more wear on the inside overpronate and those who have more wear on the outside underpronate.

    Another at-home test is getting your feet wet and standing on a clean piece of white paper. Those who only see the outer edge of their foot are likely to have very high arches or supinate. Those who see their entire foot on the paper are likely to have lower arches or overpronate.

  • How long does it take to correct overpronation?

    Any new muscle training program will take at least 6–12 weeks of consistent exercises to begin to see results. As mentioned above, there was a study completed on overpronated individuals that showed an improvement of their symptoms after a 9-week program of therapeutic exercises. Although it will take time, effort, and consistency, it is possible to correct overpronation in many cases!

Embrace a Balanced Stride With KURU

Consistently wearing quality, supportive footwear is a fantastic method in how to correct overpronation. 

At KURU, we engineer pain-relieving footwear with ergonomic insoles, shock-absorbing cushion, and our patented KURUSOLE heel-hugging technology with a rounded heel-cup for Pain Relief Beyond Belief.

We want to help you Heel Better™ with men’s and women’s shoes that help relieve a wide variety of foot pain conditions. Whether you under or overpronate, at KURU you’ll find a selection of shoes for pronation and supination that can help remedy both.

Since every KURU comes with a built-in orthotic-like system, many customers even report they no longer need to use expensive orthotics after switching to KURU.

Wearing supportive, ergonomic shoes is a method in how to correct overpronation, so you can live the life you love.

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