Signs of Overpronation in Feet

Overpronation can cause pain, but supportive shoes, orthotics, and exercises help

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Pronation refers to the normal foot and ankle movement that happens when you take a step. Overpronation is when the foot and ankle move too much downward and inward. Usually, it’s associated with flatfeet.

Overpronation can strain the muscles in your feet and legs, leading to conditions like heel pain, shin splints, low-back pain. Orthotic inserts for your shoes, stretches, ankle braces, and even surgery can all help alleviate the impact of overpronation. 

Continue reading to learn more, including how to correct overpronation and the connection between pronation and flatfeet. 

Man walking

Hayden Scott / 500px / Getty Images

Signs of Overpronation

Some people with overpronation have no symptoms at all. Others may experience pain or other problems in their legs and feet. 

Overpronation isn’t a medical condition; it’s just a movement pattern. But over time, that pattern can increase your risk for certain medical conditions because it strains your feet and legs' muscles, joints, and ligaments.

These medical conditions can be a sign that you have overpronation. Conditions that are commonly associated with overpronation include:

You might also experience pain in the mid foot or hips, which can be symptoms of flat feet.

Overpronation vs. Underpronation

Pronation refers to the normal movement of the foot and ankle while walking. Overpronation and underpronation are both common but abnormal movement patterns. If you have overpronation your ankle rolls inward and downward too much.

If you have underpronation your foot is not very flexible and moves too little, which is called supination and is often associated with a high arch foot type. This often causes pressure on the outside of the foot, leading to other ankle and foot problems.

How to Correct Overpronation

The goal in treating overpronation is to take the strain off muscles in the foot, ankle, and leg in order to avoid symptoms like pain in the heel, ankle, knees, hips or back. The most common treatments for overpronation are wearing supportive shoes or insoles. Exercises and stretches can also help. Rarely, you may need surgery to correct flat feet that can cause overpronation.

If you have overpronation you should see a podiatrist (foot doctor). They’ll be able to guide you to the best course of treatment for your symptoms. Learn more about how to find a qualified podiatrist

Supportive Shoes  

The first course of treatment for overpronation is to wear more supportive footwear. This can include specialized shoes or inserts that support the foot and reduce ankle movement. People with overpronation should look for shoes that have firm support in the heel and mid foot. This will help prevent too much movement.


If you have moderate or severe overpronation, your healthcare provider might recommend orthotics. These are meant to provide even more support to the foot, especially the arch, and reduce overpronation.

You can purchase orthotics from shoe stores and elsewhere, but if you have moderate to severe overpronation you may need custom orthotics. These are molded to your foot to provide individualized support. 

Exercises and Stretches

Exercises and stretches can also help with overpronation. A 2020 study found that exercises targeting the feet, core and hips helped correct pronation over nine weeks. The exercises included:

  • Toe pickups in which you grab small objects with the toes and move them from one place to another
  • Flexing and pointing the toes by using a resistance band placed around the toes, similar to a towel calf stretch
  • Hip abduction exercises to target the hip and glutes
  • Abdominal and oblique muscle (muscles along the sides of your torso) exercises to stabilize the torso

An exercise called the short-foot exercise is also effective for overpronation. In this exercise you raise the arch of your foot off the ground, drawing your toes toward your heel.


Rarely, someone with severe overpronation will need surgery to treat flatfeet. Reconstruction realigns the bones to better support the arch and reduce overpronation. A metal implant is used in surgery for flatfeet to stabilize the area. Surgery can also be used to repair torn tendons or other damage that is contributing to overpronation.

Overpronation Causes

Overpronation can be caused or worsened by flatfeet. However, some people have overpronation because their feet and ankles are very flexible, so they tend to have more movement. 

Risk factors for flatfeet may also increase your chances of having overpronation. These include:

  • Being female
  • Age, particularly being over 40
  • Being overweight
  • Doing repetitive, impactful movements like running
  • Wearing certain shoes, including high heels and shoes with a narrow toe box

Should You See a Healthcare Provider for Overpronation?

If you have overpronation but no symptoms, you don’t necessarily have to see a healthcare provider since this may just be your body’s natural movement pattern. But if you begin experiencing pain in your feet, legs, hips or back it’s best to see a healthcare provider, who can evaluate your gait (the way you walk) and recommend treatments that might work for you. 

Overpronation Complications

Overpronation increases your risk for many health conditions in the legs and feet. These same conditions are also signs that you might have overpronation. They include pain in the heels, knees, IT band, back or hips; bunions; flat feet and more. 


Overpronation is a movement pattern in which the ankle moves too much. The ankle rolls inward and downward, which can cause your foot’s arch to collapse as you stride. This puts strain on your muscles and ligaments, and can lead to other ailments like skin splints or ankle pain.

Supportive shoes, orthotic inserts, and exercises are the most common treatments for overpronation. Some people with severe overpronation may require surgery to correct their flat feet. 

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Pedorthic Association of Canada. Overpronation and underpronation correction

  2. Sánchez-Rodríguez R, Valle-Estévez S, Fraile-García PA, Martínez-Nova A, Gómez-Martín B, Escamilla-Martínez E. Modification of pronated foot posture after a program of therapeutic exercises. Int J Environ Res Public Health. November 13, 2020. 

  3. Naderi A, Degens H, Sakinepoor A. Arch-support foot-orthoses normalize dynamic in-shoe foot pressure distribution in medial tibial stress syndrome. Eur J Sport Sci. 2019. doi:10.1080/17461391.2018.1503337

  4. Sulowska, Iwona, Łukasz Oleksy, Anna Mika, Dorota Bylina, and Jarosław Sołtan. The Influence of plantar short foot muscle exercises on foot posture and fundamental movement patterns in long-distance runners, a non-randomized, non-blinded clinical trial. PLOS ONE. 2016. 10.1371/journal.pone.0157917.

  5. Michigan Pediatric Medical Association. Flat feet (over pronation) 

By Kelly Burch
Kelly Burch is has written about health topics for more than a decade. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and more.