Problems Can Develop From Over-Supination of the Feet or Forearms

Supination is an anatomical term of motion for the rotation of the forearm or foot. When you turn your palm or sole so that it faces forward of your body, it is supinated. It comes from the root word of supine and is the opposite of pronation.

A hand in the supinate position
Khaleel Ahamed / EyeEm / Getty Images

Forearm and Hand

When you supinate your hand, the forearm and palm are being turned to face out, a thumbs-out position. This results in your thumb being at the far side away from your body and the pinkie finger closer to your body. If you were to do this when your arms are at your sides, the palms are facing forward, anteriorly. If you supinate your hand while your arms are over your head, the palm is facing backward.

Foot

When your foot is supinated, the sole is facing in, toward the ankle of the opposite foot. This is done with the ankle of that foot rolling out and the toes and sole facing in. If you were to look at the front of the leg when the foot is supinated, you would see the big toe angled in and the ankle angled out from the midline. It involves plantar flexion, adduction, and inversion of the foot.

Also Known As: Under-pronation, high arches

Normal Supination While Walking

In a normal gait cycle, the foot is slightly supinated at the time the heel contacts the ground, but then it pronates, turning up and out to absorb the shock of the step. As the full weight of the body comes on the foot when the foot is flat on the ground, the foot supinates, twisting in and down as it takes on the load and continues to supinate during the propulsive push-off stage. As such, supination is a normal part of how the foot moves throughout a step. It is when either pronation or supination motion is excessive that they become something that may need to be addressed or corrected.

Too Much Supination of the Foot

Over-supination or being a supinator describes having an excessive outward rolling motion of the foot and ankle during a walking or running stride.

You can look at the wear pattern of your shoes for a clue as to whether you are a supinator. Excessive wear on the outer edge of the sole is an indicator of supination.

Supination is more common in those with high and inflexible medial arches and can lead to foot aches and pain. Their stiff arches aren't good shock absorbers. They may develop conditions such as iliotibial band syndrome, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, and knee pain.

Wearing the proper footwear, using shoe inserts/insoles, or orthotics can help reduce supination. Supinators should not use motion control shoes, which are designed to correct the opposite condition of over-pronation. They should look for neutral shoes and flexible shoes.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the difference between oversupination and overpronation?

    Both conditions relate to how your foot hits the ground when walking or running, and both can cause injury. Overpronation means that your ankle rotates and tilts inward with each step. Oversupination means your ankle rolls outward and the tilt of the foot puts pressure on the outer toes.

  • How do you correct oversupination?

    Physical therapists may be able to help you strengthen muscles and loosen tendons to ease oversupination. For some people, though, orthotics, which are made for your foot and inserted into your shoes, are the best way to correct the problem.

  • Can you improve forearm supination?

    Some exercises and activities might improve supination in the forearm:

    • Turn your palm face up in front of you. Balance books on the palm, and lift them up and down.
    • Bounce a tennis ball on a tennis racket.
    • Wring out a towel by twisting it. 
6 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.
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  3. Golightly YM, Hannan MT, Dufour AB, Hillstrom HJ, Jordan JM. Foot disorders associated with overpronated and oversupinated foot function: the Johnston County osteoarthritis project. Foot Ankle Int. 2014;35(11):1159-65. doi:10.1177/1071100714543907

  4. Huang Y ping, Peng HT, Wang X, Chen ZR, Song CY. The arch support insoles show benefits to people with flatfoot on stance time, cadence, plantar pressure and contact area. PLOS ONE. 2020;15(8):e0237382. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0237382

  5. Golightly YM, Hannan MT, Dufour AB, Hillstrom HJ, Jordan JM. Foot disorders associated with overpronated and oversupinated foot function: the Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project. Foot Ankle Int. 2014;35(11):1159-1165. doi:10.1177%2F1071100714543907

  6. Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare. Activities to develop elbow and forearm supination skills.

By Elizabeth Quinn
Elizabeth Quinn is an exercise physiologist, sports medicine writer, and fitness consultant for corporate wellness and rehabilitation clinics.