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Supination and Pronation | How are these terms used to describe hands and feet?

Supination and pronation are two terms used to describe the position of the foot. Learn about these biomechanics terms and how they're used in medicine to discuss sports medicine.

Supination and Pronation

What’s the difference between supination and pronation?

Pronation and supination are the two terms used to describe the position of the hands or feet.  The terms at first can be a bit

Supinated handsconfusing in that they can be used as a noun, a verb, and an adjective.  Let’s take a closer look at these two terms and see how they are used in the language of biomechanics.


As a young doc, I was taught to think of supination as the position of the hands as they hold ‘soup’.  The hands shown in the image are in a supinated position.  And as they come together, the hands are supinating.

When we refer to feet, the terms supination, supinated and supinating all refer to a high arched foot.

  • Supination is the act of creating a high arched foot.
  • A supinated foot is a foot with a high arch.
  • Supinating is the movement towards a high arched foot.


To describe pronated hands, think of the position of the hands as you do push-ups – hands away from each other.

Pronated feet are flat feet.  And the act of pronation occurs with each step, as our body weight is applied to the foot, the arch flattens, or shall I say, pronates.

  • Pronation describes a flat foot.
  • A pronated foot is a flat foot.
  • Pronating is the movement towards a flat foot.

What’s best, a supinated foot or a pronated foot?  Actually neither.  Each of us has our own ‘normal’ foot that varies with each step that we take.  Although supinated feet are usually rigid and flatfeet are more flexible, both perform comfortably.

For more information on supination and pronation, be sure to follow these links to our knowledge base pages on supination and pronation.


Dr. Jeffrey Oster
Jeffrey A. Oster, DPM

Medical Advisor

Updated 4/22/2021

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