Supination refers to outward rotation of the subtalar joint that rotates your ankle. Supination normally occurs any time you point your toes away from your body or turn your sole inward toward the body. A certain amount of supination is also natural while running and walking. Excessive supination can cause painful muscle, joint and bone injuries that may benefit from exercise. Consult your doctor or physical therapist before starting a supination exercise regime.
Oversupination poses a problem for your feet and ankles because landing on the outside of the feet inappropriately distributes weight across your musculoskeletal system. The simple exercise of jumping rope requires your feet to land in a proper, flat position since the activity does not incorporate the rotational motion aspects of running. You should jump rope on a shock-absorbent surface such as a wooden floor, cushioned exercise surface or exercise mat to minimize the impact on your feet as you train them to land properly.
The front lunge also helps train your feet to properly strike the floor without rotating into an oversupinated position. To perform a front lunge, extended your feet forward and land heel first. Extend your knees and hips, transferring weight toward the front of your foot until your knee is nearly in contact with the ground. Point your toe straight outward from your body when performing a front lunge; if your foot is angled improperly, the exercise places stress on your foot structure in much the same way as oversupinated walking does.
Walking with Foot Support
Many oversupinators find the motion to be unavoidable due to the structure of their foot or lower body. The best way to avoid oversupination-related injury is to wear specially designed shoes that minimize impact to your body while running. Shoes designed for oversupinators feature strategically placed cushioning that helps distribute the force of impact toward the inside of the foot. If you have a particularly high arch or another condition that prevents effective transfer of impact then you may need to wear an orthotic insole that helps cushion your foot. You can purchase basic pre-molded insoles at a sporting goods store or you can consult a podiatrist to obtain custom-molded prescription orthotics. When first trying out a new shoe or orthotic device you should start with a shorter, less strenuous version of your normal exercise regimen. If your new support device helps with the pain then gradually increase the intensity of the workout until you can exercise normally and pain-free. If you experience foot or leg pain while using a special shoe or orthotics device, discontinue use and seek advice from your doctor or podiatrist.
If you oversupinate but have avoided serious injury, focus on increasing ankle and foot muscle flexibility. Increased flexibility helps your muscles and tendons cope with any additional stress caused by your running gait. Calf stretches are particularly important for improving flexibility, avoiding injury and minimizing pain. To perform a leaning calf stretch, lift one foot in the area and lean forward placing both hands against a wall or table. Straighten your knee for about 30 seconds to stretch your calf muscle, then bend your knee forward and stand on your toes for 30 seconds to stretch your foot tendons. Standing calf stretches are also effective for flexing your foot tendons. Stand with one foot angled against a wall, the other foot slightly behind you and both hands against the wall. Lean forward and straighten your leg to stretch your calves for 30 seconds, and then bend your knee slightly and hold for 30 seconds to switch the stretch to your Achilles tendon.
Leg Strength Exercises
Increasing the overall strength of your leg muscles can increase the amount of support that your foot receives during oversupination and help you avoid injuries. Exercises that strengthen your lower leg muscles without putting much weight on your feet are ideal. Many of the leg exercise machines found at your gym can help, including the leg curl, calf press and squat devices. Since squats do place a certain amount of stress on your feet, be sure to start at a comfortable weight and slowly increase resistance as your muscle strength improves.
Dan Howard is a sports and fitness aficionado who holds a master's degree in psychology. Howard's postgraduate research on the brain and learning has appeared in several academic books and peer-reviewed psychology journals.