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Pronation and Supination Explained for Coaches

What are Pronation and Supination?

Wrist pronation is when the forearm rotates inward, causing the palm to face down. Pronation at the ankle is when the foot rotates out, and more of the weight is on the inside of the foot. Wrist supination is when the forearm rotates outward, and the palm faces the ceiling. Supination at the ankle is when the foot rotates in, causing more of your body weight to be on the outside of your foot.

Pronation Examples

  • Reverse-grip bicep curl – gripping a weight with the palms facing down is an example of wrist pronation
  • Pull-up – gripping a pull-up bar with the palms facing forward (overhand) is wrist pronation
  • Caving the knee in somewhat – this causes flattening of the foot arch, and more of the weight is distributed on the inside of the foot

Supination Examples

  • Dumbbell bicep curl – the palms facing forward (or externally rotating at the forearms as you bend your elbows) is an example of wrist supination
  • Chin-ups – gripping a pull-up bar with the palms facing back (underhand) is an example of wrist supination
  • Pushing the knee outward – this causes more weight to be shifted to the outside portion of the foot and is an example of foot supination

FAQ

1. Are foot pronation and supination bad?

While both motions occur and are part of the gait cycle, too much of either can cause excessive stress to the ankle, knee, and hip, as well as the surrounding muscles and connective tissues. Over time, this can contribute to chronic aches and injuries.

2. How do wrist pronation and supination impact training?

Wrist pronation generally shifts more of the emphasis to the forearm muscles (such as the brachioradialis). It may result in slightly higher back muscle activation (as is the case in pull-ups). On the other hand, supination shifts the emphasis toward the biceps, allowing them to contribute more during chin-ups, rows, and curls.

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