What is the Difference Between Pronation and Supination

The main difference between pronation and supination is that pronation is the movement of the foot, occurring when a person shifts its weight from the heel to the forefoot whereas supination is the opposite movement of the foot, occurring when the weight is shifted on the outside of the foot. Furthermore, pronation occurs when landing the foot during walking or running while supination occurs when there is no enough ‘inward roll’ in the motion of the foot. Moreover, in the hand, the palm is facing posteriorly in pronation while the palm is facing anteriorly in supination.  

Pronation and supination are two types of movements of the foot and hand. Generally, they occur at the subtalar joint complex in the foot while in the hand, they occur at the proximal radioulnar joint.  

Key Areas Covered 

1. What is Pronation
     – Definition, Type of Movement, Importance
2. What is Supination
     – Definition, Type of Movement, Importance
3. What are the Similarities Between Pronation and Supination
     – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Pronation and Supination
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms 

Pronation, Proximal Radioulnar Joint, Subtalar Joint Complex, Supination

Difference Between Pronation and Supination - Comparison Summary

What is Pronation 

Pronation is the inward rolling of the foot during the landing of the foot in walking or running. Generally, it is a type of normal motion which occurs when the outer edge of the heel strikes on the ground. This rolls the foot inwards and flats out. Therefore, the weight of the body shifts from the heel to the forefoot. However, overpronation results in the flattening out of the foot arches, stretching the tendons, ligaments, and muscles of the foot.

Difference Between Pronation and Supination

Figure 1: Pronation and Supination of the Foot

Furthermore, the pronation of the hand is the rotational movement of the hand, turning the lower arm and the hand inwards. 

What is Supination 

Supination is the opposite movement of the pronation. Therefore, it is the outward rolling of the foot, occurring while lifting the foot from the ground during walking or running. As lifting off the heel from the ground, both forefoot and the toes are involved in propelling the body forward. Also, this shifts the weight of the body towards the lateral edge of the foot. However, over supination produces a large strain on the muscles and tendons in order to stabilize the ankle. Therefore, this may cause the ankle to a complete rollover, leading to a total ligament rupture or ankle sprain.

Main Difference - Pronation vs Supination

Figure 2: Pronation and Supination of the Hand

Moreover, in the hand, supination is the rotational movement of the forearm and the hand outwards. 

Similarities Between Pronation and Supination 

  • Pronation and supination are two types of movements of foot and palm. 
  • They occur as a result of a rotation of the foot or forearm in the standard anatomical position. 
  • In the foot, they occur during the natural rolling movement while walking or running. Also, this movement is sometimes known as the running giant. 
  • Both types of movements occur at a second joint apart from the main joint of the limbs. 
  • Flexion/extension and inversion/eversion are the two other types of movement of the feet and hands. 
  • Overpronation and supination cause a number of effects on the foot, ankle, knees, hips, and back. 

Difference Between Pronation and Supination 

Definition 

Pronation refers to the inward rolling of the foot during normal motion while supination refers to the outward rolling of the foot during normal motion.  

Occurrence 

While pronation occurs as the outer edge of the heel strikes the ground and the foot rolls inward and flattens out, supination occurs when the foot rolls outward. 

During Walking and Running 

Moreover, pronation occurs when landing the foot during walking or running while supination occurs during the push-off phase of the running gait as the heel lifts off the ground.  

Shifting of the Weight 

The weight of the body is shifted on to the medial part of the foot during pronation while the weight of the body is shifted to the lateral edge of the foot during supination. 

Over Movement 

Overpronation of the foot results in the flattening out of the foot arches, stretching the tendons, ligaments, and muscles of the foot while over supination produces a large strain on the muscles and tendons in order to stabilize the ankle, leading to a complete rollover, which cause either a total ligament rupture or ankle sprain. 

In the Palm 

The palm is facing posteriorly in pronation while the palm is facing anteriorly in supination.  

Conclusion 

Pronation is the type of movement of the foot, which rolls it inwardly. Therefore, it allows the shifting of the weight on to the medial part of the foot. In the hand, pronation is the inward movement of the hand and the lower arm. In comparison, supination is the opposite type of movement of the foot, which rolls it outwardly. However, this shifts the weight to the lateral edge of the foot. Meanwhile, in the hand, supination is the outward movement of the lower arm and the hand. Therefore, the main difference between pronation and supination is the direction of rotation of the foot or the forearm. 

References:

1. Walker, Brad. “What Is Pronation and Supination?” StretchCoach.com, 7 Apr. 2019, Available Here.
2. “Anatomical Terms of Motion.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 10 Nov. 2019, Available Here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Braus 1921 306” By Braus, Hermann(Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia   
2. “Pronation and supination” By Connexions – http://cnx.org (CC BY 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia   

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things

Leave a Reply