The Local Knowlege

Health & Fitness

Definitions of the day: Pronation and Supination

By Ron Kaspriske

the-loop-golf-book.jpgGolf instructors and fitness trainers often use the anatomical words when referring to body movement. Most of the time they're correct in their use of these words, but I've seen a lot of golfers and gym goers—including myself—glaze over or get brain cramps trying to remember what they mean and how they apply to a golf swing or working out.

From time to time I'll try to take some of these terms and make them easier to understand—especially when it comes to knowing why they matter on the golf course or in the gym. Here are two:

Pronation and supination: In terms of the lower body, they are the inward and outward movements of the foot. But it's easier to remember what is happening by focusing on the ankle joint. When turning the foot outward, the ankle joint juts or "rolls" laterally inward. And the ankle rolls outward when the foot turns inward. In terms of ankle mobility and overall function—especially in the golf swing—you should be able to roll your ankle laterally in either direction. This will help you maintain your golf posture, shift your weight properly, and also avoid knee injuries.

In terms of the upper body, these are the rotational movements of the forearm, which in turn changes the position of the hand. Pronation is the inward rotation of the forearm (think palms down or away from you) and supination is the outward rotation (palms up or facing you). Forearm rotation is crucial to both power and accuracy in the golf swing. Understanding that the forearms rotate in opposite directions during the back and through-swings—and transfer energy generated by the bigger muscles of the body into the club—is helpful in terms of how you train and how you play. When training in the gym, the ability to rotate in both directions effectively will help protect the tendons and ligaments in the arms and shoulders.

So remember, supination is the outward movement of the ankle and roll of the forearm. And pronation is in the inward movement of the ankle and roll of the forearm. Hope this helps.

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.


(Photo illustration by Coolife)
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