What Is Supination?

It's crucial to know what supination is in all its aspects. With this information, we can introduce new exercises in our sports practice and also prevent injuries.
What Is Supination?

Last update: 24 April, 2019

Today, we’ll explain in detail what supination is and some considerations to take into account in our sports practice.

In previous articles, we’ve explained what pronation is and also listed some applications that have a pronator grip in some exercises. We went as far as to mention the pronation of the foot and the possible risks of associated injuries if it persists excessively.

What is supination?

Supination is the movement that we make with the forearm that enables the palm of the hand to face upward while the back is facing downward. In a medical context, the term ‘supine’ refers to any position in which the ‘ventral’ or anterior parts of the body look upwards.

For this reason, they indicate “supine decubitus”, in medical terms, to refer to the position in which we’re lying facing upwards.

Supination in sports

Much like pronation, supination in the sporting field has two great features. It’s essential for working out certain muscles in the gym or in the practice of disciplines such as CrossFit or even Olympic gymnastics.

On the other hand, it’s also necessary to know what supination of the foot is. This can lead to some injuries that can be avoided when we discover that our footprint is suppressive.

The forearm

The supination of the forearm, which is the movement that makes the palm of the hand face upwards, has a special interest in gym workouts. Here are some situations or exercises in which a supinator grip will be useful.

  • Bicep and forearm workouts are done with a supine grip. This is the best way to perform curls with a bar or dumbbell. Doing this will ensure that this arm muscle group receives maximum stimulation and activation.
Bicep curls are done with a supination grip.

  • Chin-ups, a variation of the classic pull-ups, are made with a supine grip. It’s a great exercise for those athletes who still can’t do pull-ups with a prone grip since we help ourselves with the strength of our biceps while doing chin-ups. This doesn’t happen when we do classic pull-ups, where we only use the dorsals.
  • Although the prone grip is the one we most commonly use when executing deadlifts, for heavy lifting, using a mixed grip improves our grip strength since it prevents the bar from sliding out of our hands. To do this, we will use a supine grip in one hand and a prone grip in the other.
  • If we mentioned the benefits of a prone grip for Olympic lifters, we must emphasize that Olympic gymnasts use the supine grip to work with the rings. It’s important that they work with all kinds of grips, but the supine grip will allow them to improve the strength in their arms.

The feet

In contrast to the pronation tread, with this type of tread, we’ll perform an external rotation while walking. Therefore, all the weight of the body falls on the external part of the foot, with the risk that this entails.

Supination of the foot does entail a higher risk of injury if it’s not corrected; something that’s not so alarming with its counterpart, the pronation of the foot. The most typical injuries that can occur in sports practice due to having supination of the foot are ankle sprains, fractures, or plantar fasciitis.

The supination of the foot does entail a higher risk of injury.

Corrective measures for supination of the foot

To avoid the risk of injury, we’ll have to carry out a series of corrective measures in our walk. These actions will be similar to those that professionals usually indicate for overpronators since both types of walking styles have a higher risk of injury.

  • Firstly, it’s advisable to carry out a tread study to determine the degree of supination that your foot performs when walking and exercising.
  • It’s convenient to acquire a shoe insert or special footwear for supinators.

Finally, a fundamental suggestion: it’s very important to put yourself in the hands of a specialist in sports medicine who can teach you the best way to walk. This expert will also indicate some exercises to strengthen the muscles and prevent injuries that derive from supination of the foot.

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  • Kapandji, A. (2001). Biomechanics of pronation and supination of the forearm. Hand Clinics, 17(1), 111–22, vii. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11280154
  • Hernández-Díaz, C., Saavedra, M. Á., Navarro-Zarza, J. E., Canoso, J. J., Villaseñor-Ovies, P., Vargas, A., & Kalish, R. A. (2012). Clinical Anatomy of the Ankle and Foot. Reumatología Clínica, 8, 46–52. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.reuma.2012.10.005
  • Lundberg, A., Svensson, O. K., Bylund, C., Goldie, I., & Selvik, G. (1989). Kinematics of the ankle/foot complex–Part 2: Pronation and supination. Foot & Ankle, 9(5), 248–253. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2731838