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Barefoot and Pronating

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  • Barefoot and Pronating

    I wasn't able to find anything in the archives about this, but...

    I pronate. Seriously. Like the lady at the running store was shocked because the amount of pronating my ankles do is like 2% of the population or something. So maximum-support shoes and orthodics and all that.

    But I really want to go barefoot/minimum support shoes/vibram fivefingers(the latter when i have money).

    Will my ankles get stronger by doing that and work things out on their own? Or will I be likely to injure myself because my feet/ankles/knees aren't "aligned"?

    The fivefingers site said something about exercises that people who pronate can do before they try barefoot/vibrams but not any information about what those exercises are.

    Anyone have input about this? Experiences? Please do tell.

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  • #2


    When I first started in Martial Arts, I also pronated like hell, which screwed up my form. One thing that I figured out was to "grip" with my toes when I threw a punch or made a sword cut- anything which needed to be solid and perfect.

    When you curl your toes, it corrects the pronation, it pulls your knees back over your toes (where it needs to be), and firms up your step.

    Do you have access to some sand to walk on? Another thing that works is putting smallish objects in the floor and trying to pick them up with your toes (it's a great party trick, too).


    • #3

      You might try squatting barefoot (light weight initially) and like Kuno1chi said, curl your toes into the ground. I squat in Vibrams all the time and I can't be sure, but it feels like it makes my ankles stronger.


      • #4

        To your question about whether going with FF/barefoot over super-support will strengthen your ankles or if you'll end up hurting yourself: depends. If you just race out there, you'll almost certainly hurt yourself. Take it slow and let your body adjust, and FF/barefoot can ultimately be a force for good.

        Just as importantly, while there are muscle weaknesses in your ankles and feet that are contributing to the pronation, it's likely there are significant imbalances further up the kinetic chain. To that end, you'll want to get your posture analyzed by an expert (PT, Egoscue, Alexander, Feldenkrais) who can give you exercises to address your particular pattern.

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        • #5

          I'm so glad you posted this question. I was wondering the same thing...I've been a pronater since I was a young gymnast injuring my ankles repeatedly. The cycle began there and continued to the present. I don't know about the whole toe picking up stuff thing helping. I'm not saying it's not true that it can help...because I'm ignorant about that...however, I'm always using my feet to play with stuff and fiddling with stuff/ picking up stuff with my feet. I don't know that it's helped. I did find that using a band my friend gave me and doing various exercises helped.

          I was wearing 160 dollar "stability" shoes. I've started learning pose running and that teaches various things about shoes...and the fact that less cushion promotes healthy foot responses and body alignment...and then I learned more about vibrams. When I first bought them I felt like a big hypocrite because I used to make fun of my friend John who was the first in our group to wear them. What a trailblazer! Anyhow, I love them. I've hiked in them, I run in them, I wear them whenever feasible to workout in...and I didn't think I would wear them everywhere but once they're on I don't want to take them off. I haven't had a problem with my ankles yet since wearing them. I love the feel of the grass, rocks, ground under my feet. I feel my feet adjust and I admit I hold my feet a certain way out of habit from being a paranoid pronater afraid of twisting my ankle. I'm not a scientist, so I don't have a study to share with you regarding Vibram's and pronating...but I can say for sure I'm having a lot of fun with them.

          I look forward to reading more posts about this and seeing what other people have to share.