Table of Contents
Foot supination happens when your bodyweight transfers onto the outer edges of your feet as you walk.
When walking, the natural movement is to land on your heel, curve slightly into supination (foot rolling outwards) and then come into pronation (foot rolling inwards) before pushing off again with your big toe.
Excessive supination of the foot, whilst less common than pronation, is when your ankle turns out. If this is the case, it’s a good idea to incorporate some exercises into your day to help address the problem.
What Causes Excessive Foot Supination?
The way a person walks is very often down to their biomechanics and how their bones are formed. This means that increased supination is simply a natural part of how they move.
However, excessive supination isn’t just down to genetics.
It can also result from an injury to the inner foot, causing a person to overcompensate and place more pressure on the outer foot. Over time, walking this way then becomes a habit.
Misalignment or Weakness
Another factor that may be causing increased supination of the foot is misalignment or muscle imbalances to other parts of the body.
For example, weak glutes may result in a person bringing their feet closer together when walking making them more likely to supinate. This is known as crossover gait where a person walks as though they are on a tightrope.
A poor choice in footwear can lead to several foot problems including excessive supination. Proper footwear should provide good arch support to your foot ensuring proper form when walking.
Whilst many people don’t suffer any ill effects from increased foot supination, it can sometimes cause problems if not addressed.
For example, if certain activities are increased in terms of volume or intensity this could result in overuse injuries.
These include injuries such as peroneal tendinopathy or stress fractures.
That being said, there are exercises you can perform which may correct supination helping you to adopt a more normal stride when walking and minimising the chance of any subsequent pain and discomfort.
Below are some supination exercises for you to try. Make sure to do them either barefoot or in socks.
Plantar Fascia Rolling
Plantar fascia is a band of soft tissues that runs from your heels to your toes. These tissues can become very tight in people with high arches of the feet which can result in supination.
Rolling of this tissue will help to address issues such as plantar fasciitis. Over time, this can ensure that your foot moves as it should without overcompensating.
You can purchase dedicated foot roller tools for this or use something such as a golf ball or even a rolling pin.
How To Perform A Plantar Fascia Stretch:
- Start in a seated position with both feet flat on the ground.
- Place the object of choice directly under your foot.
- Simply roll your foot backwards and forwards so that it massages the underside of your foot.
- The ball should move from the ball of your foot to the bottom of your heel.
- Continue doing this for around 60 seconds and move onto the other foot.
Seated Calf Raise
When doing this exercise be sure to concentrate on form so that when raising your heels off the ground you ensure that your lower legs remain straight without rolling outwards.
As well as addressing supination it can also loosen up tight calf muscles.
How To Perform A Seated Calf Raise:
- Sit on the edge of a chair and place your feet around hip width apart. This is your starting position.
- Slowly raise both heels off the ground whilst keeping your toes in position.
- Go as high as possible and pause for a couple of seconds before returning back down.
- Perform this exercise for 10 repetitions and 3 sets.
Kneeling Tibialis Stretch
Stretching out the tibialis helps to improve flexibility whilst reducing injury to the calves, ankles and feet. It can even help to recover from ailments such as shin splints.
How To Perform A Tibialis Stretch:
- Start by kneeling on an exercise mat with feet pointing slightly inwards.
- Lean forward and place your hands flat on the floor.
- Push through your hands and raise your knees away from the ground. This will engage your tricep muscles.
- The top of your toes should be pressing into the ground, and you should feel a stretch down the front of your lower leg.
- Maintain straight arms and hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.
Single Leg Balance
This exercise will help to improve mobility of the ankles. If you find it difficult to balance on one foot to begin with simply position the resting foot behind you balancing on the toes.
How To Perform A Single Leg Balance:
- Start by adopting a standing position with feet hip width apart.
- Take your resting leg behind you so that you are now standing on one leg.
- Rest on a chair or wall for balance if that’s easier.
- Slowly transfer your bodyweight from one side of the foot to the other.
- Continue doing this for around 30 to 60 seconds and repeat 3 times before switching to the other foot.
Achilles Tendon Stretch
This is a good exercise to address a tight Achilles tendon as well as helping to improve ankle and foot mobility.
The higher you can place your toes on the wall the better the stretch.
How To Perform An Achilles Tendon Stretch:
- Begin by standing in front of a wall leaving a gap of around a foot.
- Take the foot to be worked and place it up against the wall.
- Position the toes as high as you can on the wall whilst resting the heel on the ground. Hand position should be flat against the wall.
- From here, lean into the wall so that you feel a stretch to your Achilles tendon and your calf muscles.
- Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other foot.
If you’re unsure as to whether or not your feet are excessively supinated, you can get the condition diagnosed during a gait analysis or by a sports performance therapist.
Sometimes you can determine if you tend to place more weight on the outside of your foot simply by sitting barefoot and feeling with your feet as to how the weight is transferred.
These above suggested exercises tend to focus on strengthening the soleus muscle, which forms part of the calf, and the tibialis, which is a muscle that runs vertically down the front of the leg as collectively they support the ankle and foot.
Other areas worth addressing would also be the hips and glutes, as weakness to these leg muscles can also cause an outward rotation of the ankle.
Working on improving supination to your feet can improve overall mobility and help with injury prevention.