We decided to go and find out the best cross trainers for overpronation.
Trying to keep fit is really no fun at all when your running or walking style forces your ankles to push inwards a little (called over pronation). It’s caused by your arches under your feet falling (otherwise known as flat feet).
What is over pronation of the foot?
The above image shows a right hand side foot.
As you can see that being overly pronated in your ankle means that the arch under your foot has fallen, and this fallen arch leads to the ankle leaning or being pushed inwards, forcing pressure onto the ankles, knee joints and possibly even the hips. It can also lead to all manner of pains in the feet as you try and compensate using your other foot more.
If left untreated you can develop a number of issues such as plantar fasciitis, heel spurs and joint pains around the knees and hips.
Seriously no fun.
Can you fix flat feet?
The truth of the matter is that no single cross trainer will adequately support overpronation.
So what do you do about it?
You really only have TWO OPTIONS.
You can use straps and supports to try to keep everything in place when walking and exercising, or you can use exercises to help correct forms of pronation in the ankle.
OPTION 1: Using supports for your feet
These can range from:
- Elasticated ankle supports
- Gel supports
- Insoles / orthotics
- Over pronation running shoes – same price as normal exercise trainers but designed with extra cushioning and support for over pronators (here’s several on Amazon designed just for over pronators)
- Or custom-made trainers and shoes costing substantially more money
This is generally the advice given out by doctors and corners most of the market for sufferers. You can find most of the above products on Amazon (you can see them here).
The idea behind these is that they somehow try to artificially keep an archway under your foot instead of the feet sitting almost flat on the floor.
- The ankle supports try to add some rigidity.
- Gel supports are small gel type shaped pieces that stick to the underside of your arch.
- Insoles / orthotics and shoe and trainer insoles that have a bulge where your arch would normally be and by placing your foot on top, keeps the arch higher.
- Overpronation trainers have thicker cushioning and support where it is needed for people who walk in this way. These are also known as motion control shoes.
- Custom made shoes usually cost a few hundred pounds and are made to “your” exact foot size so will be a perfect fit to support your foot how it should be.
The good and the bad points about these:
- The positive things about the above are that they instantly help provide some relief, and can transform your every day life. Pain is gone for many people. This alone can not be underestimated.
- The negative things about them are that you can physically feel a bulge under your foot with, and it will be even more so pronounced if the fit is not perfect. However bear in mind that many people find them not to be a problem, and get used to them pretty quickly.
OPTION 2: Exercises for overpronation:
The following clip (starts at 254 seconds) shows exercises you could try:
Here is part 2:
Here is a different video showing fallen arches exercises in close up
If you like these videos there are a lot more videos available on Youtube that discuss over pronation, normal pronation and under pronation(supination or neutral pronation).
So how do you find out what kind of walking style / running style you normally take (known as your Gait?)
So the first step is to figure out exactly what sort of person you are in terms of how you take physical steps with your feet.
Do you naturally walk perfectly, or do your own feet tend to roll inwards or outwards? How can you find this out?
1: Look at your existing trainers.
Place them on the floor side by side, as though on your feet. Look for their wear. Are they more worn on the insides (meaning you’re an overpronator), or more worn on the outsides (supinator) , or worn equally (normal walking)?
If you’ve had them for some time you may even notice the shoes tilt in towards one another if your overpronation is particularly pronounced.
2: Video yourself walking
Place a camera on the floor, and with no shoes, socks or trousers on, walk away from the camera in a straight line. Replay the video to see how you walk.
3: Look for a “Gait analysis” centre in your local area.
Many sports shops (DW sports did for me) have a trained expert who can video you on a treadmill, and review the footage with you. These pronation tests are usually free in fitness stores but always ask first. They will then recommend the best overpronation running shoes to help you get to your fitness goals.
4: Refer to a podiatrist if you notice anything unusual such as pins and needles.
It’s always safest to get professionally checked over if you have any unusual feet issues such as numbing, tingling or pins and needles. They can get to the bottom of any issues. If you are at all unsure, then please do make an appointment with your GP for a hospital referral to rule out any major issues.
So I hope that this has helped you. The main take away from this is that to support your own feet you need custom made solutions, not a factory built cross trainer.
When on the cross trainer, (or even when out running for example) you need to try to restore your foot balance. using any of the above products designed for flat feet will be a great start and provide you with the ability to get back on with your life.
As you look then to the longer term, try to start doing some of the feet exercises a few times a week, so that eventually you won’t need to use any of the physcal products all the time, or never again.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is it called when you walk on the outside of your foot?
- The answer is under-pronation, or technically known as “Supination”.
Is Overpronation the same as flat feet?
- For arguments sake, you can refer to both as being the same. A flat foot indicates your foot is flat while bearing weight on it (even though an arch can re-appear when sitting). Overpronation technically refers to your foot while it is in motion. It’s the movement of your foot as you walk or run.
What can happen if I don’t get these corrected?
- Well the pains and aches won’t simply go away. They will keep re-ocurring. Over pronation puts stress and pressure on all parts of your feet, knees and legs. You can end up with stuff calf muscles, heel spurs, plantar fasciitis and more. Longer term you could end up with more permanent aches and pains that affect your mood, your walking style and your day to day existence. It really is no fun.
Does my weight affect flat feet?
- Absolutely. For me this was the case anyway. My job many years ago was walking many miles on a hard concrete floor around a large manufacturing plant. My knees would hurt every week (even though my feet didn’t). I was diagnosed with fallen arches at the medical centre. I used orthotic insoles which helped a bit, but the only thing that made a big difference was when I lost 5 stone in weight. I have not suffered from any feet related issues ever since, and that is now 15 years ago.
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