Runner’s World Apparently Doesn’t Understand Feet: PART 4

With “Fake News” securing a prominent spot in the headlines lately, I feel as if I need to chime in and point out that Runner’s World has been promoting “fake news”, especially if the bar for qualifying as “real news” is actual science.

This is the final chapter of a 4-part Blog series of posts about a recent Runner’s World article titled “Everything You Need to Know about Pronation“. You can find the previous posts here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

If you’ve read my three previous posts you’re already up to date on my opinion that Runner’s World really doesn’t understand the concept of pronation as it relates to normal foot movement and shoe choice.  In this final chapter I’ll be picking apart their definition of “Underpronation”.  As in the previous blog posts, the text from Runner’s World will be in red and my comments are in black.

Underpronation (or its real name: supination) is the insufficient inward roll of the foot after landing.”

No, no it’s not! Supination is a tri-planar movement that describes the motion that helps your foot become a rigid lever for push-off. Supination does not describe a lack of pronation, it is its own important movement pattern and a vital part of foot motion during the gait cycle.  Supination can cause issues (just like pronation, flexion, extension, rotation, or any other movement in the body) when either too much or too little occurs or when it occurs with improper timing during the gait cycle.

“Again, the outside of the heel makes initial contact with the ground. But the inward movement of the foot occurs at less than fifteen percent (i.e., there is less rolling in than for those with normal or flat feet). Consequently, forces of impact are concentrated on a smaller area of the foot (the outside part), and are not distributed as efficiently. In the push-off phase, most of the work is done by the smaller toes on the outside of the foot.”

Often this is true, it is common for people with high rigid arches (or any of a multitude of structural issues up the kinetic chain) to have trouble fully pronating. They will frequently both land and push-off on the outer (lateral) edge of the foot (basically in an overly supinated position), putting a lot of stress through the small metatarsals (and pre-disposing them to chronic ankle sprains). However, I actually see many people clinically who have very rigid high arches that crash violently into pronation because they lack any flexibility in their foot or strength through their lower leg muscles (or glutes) to control the movement of the medial foot down to the ground. This causes their ankle to look like it is “rolling in” too much during stance phase. They look like they are actually pronating like crazy and end up coming in to the clinic with a stack of orthotics, insoles and stability shoes that have been sold to them in an attempt to solve the “rolling in” problem. In actuality the stability shoes and inserts are often pushing them even further onto the outside of their foot when they land. Trust me, this is not a scenario that can be solved entirely with a shoe. Don’t get me wrong, shoe choice is certainly important, but without someone helping you choose a shoe that understands biomechanics, you won’t solve anything long-term and may end up with all kinds of injuries to boot.

“This places extra stress on the foot, which can lead to Iliotibial Band Syndrome, Achilles Tendinitis, and Plantar Fasciitis. Underpronating (again, it is called supinating) will cause the outer edge of running shoes to wear sooner. To see if your shoes are unevenly worn, place them on a flat surface. If they tilt outward, supination is the culprit. Runners with high arches and tight Achilles tendons tend to be supinators.” (Chicken:Egg? Egg:Chicken?)

“Preventing Underpronation Injuries 

Supinators should do extra stretching for the calves, hamstrings, quads, and iliotibial band”

Hooray! They’ve embraced science and used the right term! Except as you’ve already learned everybody is both a “pronator” and a “supinator”…oh well, baby steps…

And I promised myself I wouldn’t start on this subject but… you do know the IT Band wasn’t made to stretch right?? Its primary role is to stabilize the knee. The last thing you want is a flexible IT Band. But I suppose that’s for another day.  And it wouldn’t be Runner’s World if they didn’t get in their plug for shoe choice:

“Wearing the right type of running shoes and replacing worn shoes will also help avoid injuries.  If you’re an underpronator, here are a few tips to help you find the right shoes for your feet.

  • Wear shoes with curved lasts to allow pronation (or have someone assess your biomechanics)
  • Look for lightweight trainers as they allow more foot motion (or have someone assess your biomechanics)
  • Check for flexibility on the medial (inner) side of the shoe” (or have someone assess your biomechanics)

Runner’s World Video: Underpronation

Well, there you have it. My two cents on the aforementioned article which was brought to you by a widely respected, extremely popular company, who I’m sure only puts the most cutting-edge, latest and greatest research out there to keep their readership informed and up to date on scientific….wait….what’s this? This article was just a lazy re-post from the EXACT SAME ARTICLE posted in 2005?  I guess what they’re trying to say is that nothing has changed in the last decade.

The next time someone tells you you’re a “pronator”, consider that they may just be spouting antiquated ideas from one or two decades ago that have been outdated for years and yet seem to somehow keep rearing their ugly heads thanks to articles like these. C’mon Runner’s World, you have a lot of new runners that you are influencing. Be better.

If you have questions, we’re here to help. We are dedicated to helping runners understand more about their bodies. If you’d like to chat with us or schedule an appointment, you can reach us at 512-266-1000 ext 1, or at If you are interested in learning more about gait mechanics from a clinical perspective, check out

Happy Trails!

Dr D