Arms

4 Clear Supination Vs Pronation Arm & Hand Differences

supination vs pronation arm

When it comes to supination and pronation of the arm, these are terms used to describe the anatomical position of your forearm and your hand position.  

Both pronation and supination involve forearm rotation.  


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Whilst these movements may seem simple, they play an important role in many athletic activities whether that’s throwing a ball, swinging a tennis racket or during a golf swing. 

Additionally, understanding the differences between supination and pronation of the arm can be important for healthcare professionals who are assessing and treating injuries or conditions affecting the arm and hand such as tennis elbow.

tennis elbow

Understanding Supination Vs Pronation Arm Differences

There are two main positions that your hand and forearm can be in: supination and pronation.

These positions refer to the orientation of the palm of the hand, and they have important implications for the way that your arm functions.

In the anatomical position, your arm is in a neutral position with your palm facing inward towards your body.  

Depending on which way you rotate your forearm will determine whether you are performing forearm pronation or supination.  

What Is Supination Of The Arm?

Supination of the arm is to rotate your hand and forearm so that they both face up.  

The action of arm supination is primarily performed by your biceps brachii muscle.

This muscle is located to the front of your upper arm and helps with rotation of the forearm so that your palm turns upward.  

The supinator muscle, located in the forearm, also helps with arm supination by rotating the radius bone in the forearm.

There are several actions that you may perform in daily life that require arm and hand supination, these include the following: 

turning door knob
  • Turning A Doorknob : When you rotate your hand to grab and turn a doorknob.
  • Pouring From A Container : The supination movement is used to rotate the hand and pour with the palm facing upward.
  • Opening A Jar : To open a jar, you often need to twist the lid. This twisting motion involves arm supination to exert force on the lid.

What Is Pronation Of The Arm?

Pronation of the arm is to rotate your forearm and hand so that they both face down.  

The muscles responsible for arm pronation are the pronator teres and pronator quadratus muscles, which are located in the forearm.  

The triceps brachii play a secondary role in pronation by providing stability and control during the movement.  

​Common actions that involve arm pronation include the below:

  • Using A Hammer: When using a hammer to strike a nail, the motion of swinging the hammer involves pronation of the forearm.
  • Throwing A Ball: In sports such as baseball or cricket, when you throw and release a ball, your forearm pronates to add spin and control to the throw.
  • Using A Broom Or Mop: When sweeping the floor or mopping, you often use a pronation motion to move the broom or mop back and forth.
cricket bowler

It’s important to note that supination and pronation are opposite movements, and they have different effects on the muscles and joints of your arm.

When you supinate your forearm, your biceps muscle is activated, while your triceps muscle is relaxed.

When you pronate your forearm, the opposite is true: your triceps muscle is activated, while your biceps muscle is relaxed.

Anatomy Involved In Supination And Pronation Of The Arm

The elbow joint plays an important role in both supination and pronation of your arm.

This joint is a synovial hinge joint that connects the humerus bone in the upper arm to the forearm bones. 

The distal radioulnar joint, which is located near your wrist, also assists with these movements.

The joint is formed by the head of the radius and the radial notch of the ulna.

elbow joint anatomy 1

The interosseous membrane, located between the radius and ulna bones, helps to provide stability to your forearm during both supination and pronation.

The synovial membrane, which lines the joint cavities of the elbow and wrist joints, helps to limit friction and facilitate smooth movements.

Overall, supination and pronation movements of the arm involves a combination of muscles, joints, ligaments, and bones. 

Grip Types And Their Impact On Strength Training

When comparing a pronated position of the arm with the supinated position, your grip type will determine the effectiveness of your workout. 

It’s worth noting that the different grip types can be interchangeable with exercises.  

For example, whilst it may be most common to perform a barbell row with a pronated grip, you can also perform the exercise with a supinated grip.  

supinated barbell row

This could be for different muscle activation by targeting various muscle groups, or to alleviate stress on certain joints.  

pronated-barbell-row

Here are some of the most common grip types specific to their exercises.  

Overhand Grip

The overhand grip, also known as a pronated grip, is where the palms of your hands face downward or backward, with your forearms in a pronated position.

pronated arm conventional barbell deadlift

This grip is often used in exercises such as pull-ups, barbell rows, or deadlifts, where the palms are facing towards your body.

Underhand Grip

The underhand grip, also known as the supinated grip, is where your palms are facing up or forward.

supinated arm bicep curl

This grip is commonly used in exercises such as bicep curls and chin-ups. 

Neutral Grip

The neutral grip is where your palms are facing each other, or inwards.  

This grip is commonly used in exercises such as hammer curls and the farmer’s walk.  

Neutral arm grip dumbbell lunge

Neutral grip exercises are a good choice if you want to minimize stress to your wrist joint.  

Mixed Grip 

A mixed grip, also known as an alternating grip, is a hand position where one hand is pronated (palm facing backward) and the other hand is supinated (palm facing forward).

This grip is commonly used in exercises that involve lifting heavy weight.  

mixed-grip-deadlift

For example, a mixed grip deadlift could help improve your grip and prevent the bar from rolling out of your hands.  

Influence Of Supination And Pronation In Sports

Understanding how pronation and supination of the arm affect your performance can help you improve your game.

Here’s a breakdown of how supination and pronation impact different sports:

Golf Swing

Supination and pronation are crucial in the golf swing.  

During the backswing, the lead arm supinates, so that you can hinge at your wrists and create power in your swing. 

golf swing

As you follow through, your lead arm then pronates, so you release the club and generate speed.  

Proper supination and pronation can help you hit the ball further and more accurately.  

Baseball Pitching

In baseball pitching, supination and pronation are essential for throwing different types of pitches. 

For example, a fastball requires more supination, while a curveball involves more pronation.  

baseball pitcher

Properly utilizing supination and pronation can help you throw more effectively whilst putting less stress on your throwing arm.  

Football Throwing

Supination and pronation play a role in football throwing as well. 

When throwing a spiral (to throw the ball putting a spin on it) your hand should supinate as you release the ball.  

NFL football throw

The purpose of this is to allow the ball to travel further with greater accuracy and speed.  

Pronation can be used to throw certain types of passes, such as a fade route.

Softball Batting

Supination and pronation can also affect your softball batting.  

During the swing, your lead arm should supinate to help you generate power and create a smooth swing path.

softball batter

Pronation can also be used when hitting specific pitches, such as a rise ball.

Conclusion

Learning the differences between supination and pronation is crucial to help identify and prevent injuries in your arms.  

By familiarizing yourself with different arm positions and grip types when performing certain activities, you can adjust your form and technique to reduce the risk of injury.

Some key points to keep in mind: 

  • Supination involves rotating your forearm so that your palm faces up, while pronation involves rotating your forearm so that your palm faces down.
  • Supination is often used in activities such as holding a cup or turning a doorknob, whilst pronation is used in movements such as throwing a ball or doing push-ups.
  • Overuse of either supination or pronation can lead to injuries such as tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow.
  • Maintaining proper form and technique during activities that involve supination or pronation can help prevent injuries and improve performance.

By understanding supination and pronation of the arm can provide valuable insights into human motion, enhances performance in various activities, and informs rehabilitation practices. 

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