Excessive Supination in a marathoner: Shoe Photos !

Simple visual case today.

Look at the right shoe, can you see how it is canted laterally? Can you see the inversion of the rear foot ?  Without a foot in that shoe it means that “the last”, the heel counter and the EVA foam are all destroyed and deformed into this great runner’s compensation pattern. 

They did not have pain however can you determine the problem here from the photos ? We hope your answer is no.  We did a teleseminar last night on www.onlineCE.com on pedograph foot mappings and we talked long and hard about the possible limitations of determining foot problems from foot pressure mappings from things like pedographs and pedobarographs.  Do you use foot scanners ? If so, user beware !  They gather vital and valuable information that you absolutely need but you need the critical clinical information from the client examination to bring the foot issue info full circle.

In this case there was a significant limitation in hip rotation. Which one ? Can you theorize ?  If you said internal rotation you are right. There was a notable loss of internal right hip rotation in his marathoner.  And it is represented in his shoe photo above. Someone who has a loss of internal hip rotation will often (but not always) have difficulties achieving the normal foot pronation required for clean foot mechanics, they will be stuck in a supination tendancy.  If loss of internal rotation can mean loss of pronation then in this case ample external rotation meant excessive supination (or at the very least rear foot inversion). Hence the shoe presentation described at the beginning of this post. (Note: this is what we would refer to as a “Flexible” Rear foot Varus posturing).

So, is this the wrong shoe prescription for this runner ? No, the shoes were prescribed correctly. This is a biomechanical breakdown of a shoe because of a hip functional problem.

Solution: Dump the shoes for a new pair and quickly restore hip function. Keeping these shoes in the mix will promote the bad pattern.  In this case, functional movement and muscle tested assessments revealed specific weakness of the right lower transverse abdominus, right internal abdominal oblique, right TFL, right vastus lateralis and coccygeal division of the g. max.   Yes, all INTERNAL HIP ROTATORS  or stabilizers or synergists of internal hip rotation.  Immediate post treatment remedy revealed near full internal hip rotation and homework was prescribed to ramp those said muscles up further to support the new movement. 

If he had remained in this shoe, the breakdown in the shoe would continue to promote the biomechanical deviations into the previously engrained faulty motor compensatory pattern. 

Shoes, sometimes they are the problem, sometimes the solution and sometimes caught somewhere in between.

Need to get better at this stuff ? Just follow us daily here on The Gait Guys or consider adding the National Shoe Fit Program to your repertoire !  Email us if you are interested or need some help with your interesting cases !

Shawn and Ivo, The Gait Guys

Join Dr Ivo as he talks about pronation and supination. This is excerpted from the National Shoe Fit Certification Program.

want to know more? email us at thegaitguys@gmail.com

Policing Gait on the Web

There is some decent information here but we do have some issues with this video. We were asked on our Facebook PAGE to talk about our thoughts on this piece.  We are not trying to criticize anyone, merely helping to keep the information accurate on the web:

1. They are promoting external rotation of the limb into the ground. They refer to this as “screwing” (as they put it) the foot into the ground. The issues here are that the foot supinates when you do this and when you do this too far you weight bear on the lateral foot and disengage the medial foot tripod. They do refer to limits on this but we need to heighten the awareness here. Someone with a forefoot valgus will go to far most likely, and someone with a forefoot varus will disengage the medial tripod quickly.  Most people will also disengage the FHB (flexor hallucis brevis) quickly during this “screwing” technique.  Furthermore, people can also become too dependent on their glutes to hold the “screwed” or supinated position and this is not a safe and reasonable way to support the limb and pelvic posturing. We see this as a very detrimental strategy when sustained PPT (Posterior Pelvic Tilt) is maintained during gait and stance.  There needs to be help from the lower abdominals and adductors as well.   Their “20%” torque is a nice mention and may help many to keep this moderate but this is really dependent on foot type and tibial torsion issues which are not discussed here. As always, not everything fixes everyone, and some things go against an admirable intention.  No digs against these nice fellas, we are just stating what we feel are critical facts not discussed. We watched part 2 and 3 in the hopes of hearing about these issues above, but they were not discussed. We wanted to comment on the videos but they have disabled the comments on youtube.

2. This posturing promotes knee hyperextension which is never good. Go ahead, try it yourself.  You cannot employ a whole lot of this external screwing during gait without changing the knee biomechanics into the hyperextension direction.  It is another reason we mention a caveat here.  If you try it, just pay close attention to what you are doing. You may try to get around the hyperextenion by dropping the pelvis anterior, disengaging your abdominals and changing hip and low back function. 

3. Merely doing what they propose here does not necessarily ramp up the intrinsic muscles of the feet (4:00 mark).  They can remain silent in this maneuver.  Keeping the toes pressed might be more productive to this end.

We watched part 2 and 3 of their Rebuilding the Foot youtube videos and frankly they just scare us a little (go ahead have a look yourself) so we will not comment on anything there. Although we strongly do not advise many of their recommendations in either part 2 or 3 for our clients you may find some stuff you like here … . . heck, who are we to say what you will be willing to try !

To each his own. We give these guys mad props for putting themselves on the net and trying to share their info.  It takes guts to put your stuff on the web, we hope they will enable the comments section so productive dialogues can ensue there in the future.

Shawn and Ivo

Retail/Coach/Trainer Focus: When a stability shoe does not stop gait or running pronation.

This video is unlisted. You will need this link to view it if it does not show up in the player above this blog post:    http://youtu.be/Lt6RbEtALUY

This is a higher end stability shoe. We know what shoe it is and you can see the significant amount of dual density mid sole foam in the shoe, represented by the darker grey foam in the medial mid sole.  The point here is not to pick on the shoe or the brand. The point here is to:

1. not prescribe a shoe entirely on the appearance of the foot architecture

2. not to prescribe a shoe merely because a person is a pronator

3. not to assume that a stability shoe will prevent pronation

4. not to assume that technique does not play a part in shoe prescription

5. not to assume that all pronation occurs at the mid foot (which is the traditional thinking by the majority of the population, including shoe store sales people)

There you go, plenty of negatives. But there are positives here. Knowing the answers and responses to the above 5 detractors will make you a better athlete, better coach, better shoe sales person, a safer runner, a more educated doctor or therapist and a  wiser person when it comes to human locomotion. 

A shoe prescription does not always make things better. You have heard it here and we will say it again. What you see is not necessarily what you get.  This case is a classic example of how everything done for the right reasons when so very wrong for this young runner.

What do you see ?

Pronation can occur at:

  1. the rear foot (we refer to this as excessive rear foot eversion or calcaneal eversion driven sometimes by rearfoot valgus). This can be structural (congenital) in the bone (calcaneus or talus) or functional from weaknesses in one or several rear foot eversion controlling muscles.
  2. the mid foot as is traditionally assumed (this is often referred to as “arch collapse” ).
  3. the fore foot. (possibly many causes, such as a Rothbart Foot variant, short first metatarsal, a bunion , forefoot varus, hallux valgus, weakness of the hallux controlling muscles etc)

So, in this case you might assume that the stability shoe that is designed to prevent rear and midfoot pronation is:

  1. not doing its job sufficiently OR
  2. the pronation is occuring at the forefoot OR
  3. there is a myriad of of issues (yes, this is the answer)

However, the keen eye can clearly see that this is a case of heavy forefoot pronation but there are also mechanical flaws in technique (driven by weaknesses, hence just working on her running form will not solve her issues, it will merely force her to adopt a new set of strategies around those weaknesses !). The problems must be resolved before a new technique is forced.  This is perhaps the number one mistake runners make that drives new injuries.  They tend to blame the injury on new shoes, old shoes, increased miles, the fartlek they did the other day, the weather, their mom, there spouse, their kids…….runners come up with some great theories. Heck, all of our athletes do ! It keeps things amusing for us and we get to joke around with our athletes and throw out funny responses like, “I disagree, it was more likely the coming precession of the equinox that caused this injury !”. 

Although his individual does not have a fore foot varus deformity (because we have examined  her) it needs to be ruled out because it is  big driver of what you see in many folks.  In FF varus the forefoot is inverted with respect to the rear foot. This can be rigid (cannot descend the 1st ray and medial side of the tripod) or plastic (has the range of motion, but it hasn’t been developed).

We, as clinicians, like to assume that MOST FEET have a range of motion that folks are not using, which may be due to muscle weakness, ligamentous tightness, pathomechanics, joint fixation, etc. Our 1st job is to examine test the feet and make sure they are competent. Then and only then, after a trial of therapy and exercise, would you consider any type of more permanent “shoe prescription”.

If the individual has a rigid deformity, then you MAY consider a shoe that “brings the ground up” to the foot. Often time we find, with diligent effort on your and the individuals part, that a shoe with motion control features is not needed.

Sometimes the individual is not willing to do their homework and put in the work necessary to make things happen. This would also be a case where an orthotic or shoe can assist in giving the person mechanics that they do not have.

We have not seen many (or any) shoes that correct specifically for a fore foot varus (ie a shoe with fore foot motion control ONLY). The Altra Provision/Provisioness has a full length varus post which may help, but may over correct the mid foot as well. Be careful of what you prescribe.

Yes, we have been studying, blogging, videoing and talking about this stuff for a long time. Yes, much of it is often subtle and takes a trained eye to see. It is also the stuff that goes the “extra mile” and separates good results from great ones.

We are The Gait Guys. Watch for some seminars on some of our analysis and treatment techniques this fall and winter, and some pretty cool video, soon to be released.

Running Technique Video with Complications:

Here we have a good running video with a nice teaching component to it.

We found this on the web on some random site.  Nice to see others are helping to spread our good word.  Here is what the website said, and below that are our comments.

FROM:http://paraganek.blogspot.com/2011/08/stride-analysis-video.htmlNathanAugust 30, 2011 11:18 AM

You should send your video to The Gait Guys:

Actually, they did a 3 part video on crossover gait recently. I looks like you’ve got a bit of crossover going on (hips are swinging side to side). Most people do some crossover. Another thing The Gait Guys always say is that what you can see in the video is usually not the problem (the right foot turning out), it is usually the compensation you are seeing…the problem is somewhere else.

Thank you Nate. I will see what The Gait Guys say.

*What The Gait Guys have to say:

The most obvious thing we see is that the right foot is spun out (this is more evident on the video clips running away from the camera). This is referred to as the “foot progression angle” and here it is increased.  Depending on the source you reference, the upper limit of normal can be 25degrees. But, it is more important to do a case by case comparison.  Without the advantages of a hands on exam this case seems to indicate that the right foot progression is increased beyond the left, assuming the left is normal.  (yes, it is possible that the right is this chaps normal and that the left foot progression angle is decreased. But the usual presentation is that of increased, usually.)

What we do like is the great form his is displaying. Great natural barefoot technique. Pure barefoot technique does not allow heel strike to occur. Do not believe us? Go try it yourself, just don’t email or call us afterwards and complain !  His strike is midfoot, cadence is high, and body posture is clean and upright.  There is a minor cross over gait here. The readers were right.  Good eyes, good call !

The increased right foot progression angle will often accelerate pronation and increase its degree. This can also increase and accelerate the rate of internal spin of the tibia and limb, all the way into the hip and pelvis.  This can challenge the eccentric capabilities of the gluteals and other external hip rotator muscles and in time this can represent itself and mechanical hip joint pain or low back/Sacroiliac joint symptoms.  The increased pronation amount and rate can challenge other structures at the foot, namely the posterior tibial tendon, abductor hallucis muscle and the first ray stabilizers such as long and short hallux muscles (EHL, EHB, FHL, FHB) and thus loss of longitudinal arch capabilities and stabilizers. 

We also see, if you look closely particularly on the running away from camera views, that the left arm seems to cross the body more than the right. We always look for this in the opposite upper limb to try and help confirm or suggest which of the lower limbs is the problem.  Since the left upper arm is crossing the body, it is neurologically matched up with the right limb during swing and stance.  It can act like a ballast. This fella would most likely have some pelvic asymmetry because of this cross body deficit. 

PS: the issue can be reversed.  We have had plenty of frozen shoulder clients present with biomechanical deficits in the opposite lower limb so beware of the total body complexities and compensations.  We have also have had runners who always carry a water bottle in the same hand showing changes in the opposite lower limb. Our treatment success with one runner did not occur until we convinced this ultra trail runner to go with a camel back water supply.

Nice little case. Wish we had more information on the runner and what is bothering him.

Maybe in time we will hear from him and update him.

To get the most out of this case you should watch the 3 part cross over gait series on our youtube channel. Just type in thegaitguys and it will be right there.  You should also goto the search box in our tumblr blog and type in “arm swing” and read some of our writings on this topic.  We think it is fascinating stuff.

Shawn and Ivo……….. world wide web gait geeks……. and victims of radical hackers everywhere…… ok, just in Algeria.

External Tibial Torsion as expressed during gait.

So, last week we watched this young lad doing some static ankle and knee bends, essentially some mini squats.  Here was what we found (LINK). It is IMPERATIVE that you watch this LINK first before watching today’s video above.

Now that you have watched that link here is what you should be seeing today.

You should see that the left foot is extremely turned out. We talked about why in the linked post from last week. It is because of the degree of external tibial torsion.  When it is present the knee rides inside the foot progression line (the knee bends into the forward / sagittal plane when the ankle bends into its more lateral /coronal / frontal plane (they all mean the same thing) ie. when the foot points outwards.

Remember, the knee has only one choice of motion, to hinge forward and backward. When the knee is asked to hinge in any other direction once the foot is locked to the ground there is torque placed upon the knee joint and thus shear forces.  Menisci do not like shear forces, nor does articular joint cartilage.

So, once again we see the rule of “you cannot beat the brain” playing out. The brain took the joint with the least amount of tolerance, the knee, and gave it the easy job.  The foot was asked to entertain another plane of motion as evidenced here in this video with significant increased foot progression angle. 

When the foot progression angle is increased but the knee still must follow the forward body progression (instead of following the foot direction) the motion through the foot will be directly through the medial longitudinal foot arch.  And as seen here, over time this arch will fail and collapse. 

Essentially this lad is hinging the ankle sagittally / forward through the subtalar and midtarsal joints, instead of through the ankle mortise joint where ankle hinging normally should occur.

This is a recipe for disaster. As you can see here.  You MUST also know and see here that there is an obvious limp down onto that left limb. It appears the left limb is shorter. And with this degree of external tibial torsion and the excessive degree of foot pronation, the limb will be shorter. You need to know that internal limb spin and pronation both functionally shorten the limb length.  This fella amongst other functional things is going to need a full length sole lift. We will start with 3mm rubber infused cork to do so. And let him accomodate to that to start.

We will attempt to correct as much foot tripod (anti-pronation) control as possible to help reduce leg shortness as well as to help reduce long term damage to the foot from this excessive pronation. We will also strengthen the left gluteus medius (it was very weak) to help him engage the frontal/lateral/coronal plane better. This may bring that foot in a little. But remember, the foot cannot come in so far that it drives the knee medially. Remember who is ruling the roost here !…… the knee.  It only has one free range, the hip and foot have 3 ! 

Shawn and Ivo

Forefoot stiffness. It’s all in the supination…

Remember a month ago when we talked about the basics of gait? If not, please see posts the week of 6/27 for a in depth discussion

Suffice it to say, in stance phase (about 60% of the walking and 40% of the running gait cycles) we have 2 motions occurring: pronation and supination. In pronation (which begins as soon as the foot hits the ground and should end at midstance) the foot is becoming a mobile adaptor, so it can adapt to irregular surfaces and act as a shock absorber. 

In supination (which begins at midstance and ends at preswing) the foot is becoming a rigid lever, to assist in transferring muscular forces to the lower limb to propel us forward.

The picture above shows supination nicely. Remember that when one foot is in midstance, the opposite leg (in swing phase) assists in supination.

This study (IOHO) demonstrates the principle of supination nicely and demonstrates the (major) role the foot plays in forefoot stiffness.

J Biomech. 2005 Sep;38(9):1886-94. A comparison of forefoot stiffness in running and running shoe bending stiffness. Oleson M, Adler D, Goldsmith P. Source http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16023477

Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive, N.W. Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4.


This study characterizes the stiffness of the human forefoot during running. The forefoot stiffness, defined as the ratio of ground reaction moment to angular deflection of the metatarsophalangeal joint, is measured for subjects running barefoot. The joint deflection is obtained from video data, while the ground reaction moment is obtained from force plate and video data. The experiments show that during push-off, the forefoot stiffness rises sharply and then decreases steadily, showing that the forefoot behaves not as a simple spring, but rather as an active mechanism that exhibits a highly time-dependent stiffness. The forefoot stiffness is compared with the bending stiffness of running shoes. For each of four shoes tested, the shoe stiffness is relatively constant and generally much lower than the mean human forefoot stiffness. Since forefoot stiffness and shoe bending stiffness act in parallel (i.e., are additive), the total forefoot stiffness of the shod foot is dominated by that of the human foot.

The Geeks of Gait: Ivo and Shawn

Here Dr. Allen of The Gait Guys introduces some of the initial information necessary to understand proper shoe fit. Topics include body anatomy, shoe anatomy, physiology, biomechanics and compensation patterns. This was part of a private industry lecture where The Gait Guys were asked to help improve the understanding of the concepts critical to better shoe industry choices.

“Risk Factors that may adversely modify the natural history of the pediatric pronated foot.”  Clin Podiatr Med Surg. 2000 Jul;17(3):397-417. Napolitano C, Walsh S, Mahoney L, McCrea J.Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood, Illinois, USA. This article is a nice follow up to the video post from yesterday. The article talks about the flexible and rigid flat foot.  In yesterday’s video example we are dealing with a flexible flat foot deformity.  When he was non-weightbearing (which wasn’t seen in the video) he formed an arch.  As you can see in the video upon weightbearing the arch disappears but you can see that with the correct patterning employed, he can find an arch.  This is what we term a flexible flat foot deformity.  These types of feet have potential if there is sufficient muscular ability and if hyperlaxity in the ligamentous system can be overcome by neuromuscular support. If not, an orthotic may need to be utilized and be assistive.  The rigid flat foot, is one that does not form a competent arch, ever.  These feet are what they are, flat.  But, keep in mind…… some genetics do render a competent flatter foot.  Some of the strongest feet we have seen are on very low arched people / runners.  So, flatter does not always mean weak, be careful.  What you see is not necessarily what you get, even a rusted out Ford Pinto might have a Ferrari engine in it……. you just don’t know by looking, you have to test the competency of the foot (another example, look at Arnold Palmer’s golf swing, it isn’t the prettiest swing by any means…… but you probably wouldn’t bet a penny against him even these days, if you get our drift.) As the abstract says. “Normally developing infants have a flexible flatfoot and gradually develop a normal arch during the first decade of life.”  The key word is NORMALLY.   You must consider risk factors that may affect the foot in its overall development.  The risk factors include ligamentous laxity, obesity, rotational deformities, tibial influence, pathological tibia varum, equinus, presence of an os tibiale externum, and tarsal coalitions. Again, this is a nice follow up to our video from yesterday and brings home some additional good points to cogitate over. We knew we had a flexible flat foot with potential.  Knowing what you are starting with it vital for your success in treating the problem, and vital in determining long term success.  We are, The Gait Guys ………. and even a bit geeky in neurodevelopmental physiology. (Yes, we have no life.)  Shawn and Ivo ___________________________________________________________________________ Abstract of the Journal Article……. the link to the article is at the top of the blog post if you wish to obtain the article for further study. Here is their abstract: “Flatfoot is one of the most common conditions seen in pediatric podiatry practice. There is no universally accepted definition for flatfoot. Flatfoot is a term used to describe a recognizable clinical deformity created by malalignment at several adjacent joints. Clinically, a flatfoot is one that has a low or absent longitudinal arch. Determining flexibility (physiologic) or rigidity (pathologic) is the first step in management. A flexible flat foot will have an arch that is present in open kinetic chain (off weight-bearing) and lost in closed kinetic chain (weight-bearing). A rigid flatfoot has loss of the longitudinal arch height in open and closed kinetic chain. According to Mosca, “The anatomic characteristics of a flatfoot are excessive eversion of the subtalar complex during weight-bearing with plantarflexion of the talus, plantarflexion of the calcaneus in relation to the tibia, a dorsiflexed and abducted navicular and a supinated forefoot.” Normally developing infants have a flexible flatfoot and gradually develop a normal arch during the first decade of life. When evaluating an infant for a pronated condition, the examiner must also consider other risk factors that may affect the foot in its overall development. These contributing factors will play a role in the development of a treatment plan. The risk factors include ligamentous laxity, obesity, rotational deformities, tibial influence, pathological tibia varum, equinus, presence of an os tibiale externum, and tarsal coalitions. The authors realize other less significant factors exist but are not as detrimental to the foot as the primary ones discussed in depth. The primary risk factors that affect the pronated foot have been outlined. The clinician should always examine for these conditions when presented with a child exhibiting pronatory changes. A thorough explanation to the parents as to the consequential effects of these risk factors and their effects on the pediatric pronated foot is paramount to providing an acceptable comprehensive treatment program. Children often are noncompliant with such treatments as stretching and orthotic maintenance. The support of the parents is crucial to maintaining an effective treatment program continued at home.”

Factors that adversely effect the natural history of the pronated foot.