Prevent Tripping Over Your Feet When Walking With These 3 Simple Tips

Have you noticed that you're dragging your toes or tripping over your feet when walking?

If so, it could put you at an increased risk for falling. Watch this video to learn 3 simple tips to prevent tripping over your feet so that you can walk safely.

Table of Contents

Why You May Be Tripping Over Your Feet

The first thing you need to determine is why you're tripping over your feet in the first place.

It could be something as simple as just a learned walking habit.

It may be due to stiffness in your calves or weakness in a muscle called your tibialis anterior, or it could possibly be due to a pinched nerve in your lower back from a herniated disc or spinal stenosis.

I've got other posts covering spinal stenosis and walking problems and balance problems.

However, in this post, I'm going to focus on the first three causes.

Calves vs. Tibialis Anterior

Your tibialis anterior is a muscle on the front of your shin that pulls your toes up.

tibialis anterior muscle weakness can cause tripping over your feet when walking

Your calves counteract the tibialis anterior by pushing your toes down.

Stiff Calf Muscles can cause tripping over your feet when walking

If your calves are too stiff, then your tibialis anterior has to work against that internal resistance of your calves in order to lift your toes when you're walking.

Exercise 1: Calf Stretch

The first exercise to prevent tripping over your feet when walking just a simple calf stretch.

In order to do the calf stretch, stagger the leg that you're going to stretch backward and the other foot forward.

Keep the heels of both feet on the ground and keep your toes pointed straight ahead.

Then, lean forward until you feel a stretch in the back of your calf. It's very important to make sure that you keep your heel on the floor and also that you don't allow your foot to flatten down or pronate.

calf and hip flexor stretching exercise for walking

If you push your hips forward you'll also get a hip flexor stretch at the same time, which is helpful if you have spinal stenosis.

Hold this stretch for 1 minute.

That may seam like a really long time to stretch. However, a gentle, long-duration stretch often more beneficial than a short, quick, hard stretch.

Exercise 2: Tibialis Anterior Endurance Exercise

The next exercise to prevent tripping over your toes is to strengthen your tibialis anterior muscles.

I say "strengthen" , but it's really more of a muscle endurance exercise.

Think about how many steps you take each day.

You tibialis anterior doesn't have to work especially hard to lift the weight of your foot. However it has to do it over and over throughout the day

If you do notice that you're tripping over your feet, you probably notice it more after you've been walking for a while when your muscles have gotten tired.

To do this exercise, lean your back against a wall with your feet out in front of you.

Then lift your toes up.

Tibialis anterior raise exercise to prevent tripping over your feet when walking

Hold for 1-2 seconds, and then come back down.

Repeat this process for at least 15 to 20 repetitions, or until you get tired.

Shoot for doing 100 total repetitions, possibly broken up into several sets.

Walking Tip to Prevent Tripping Over Your Toes

The reason for tripping over your toes when walking is a learned walking habit of taking slow, short steps.

This is a very common problem that causes people to trip over their toes.

When you walk, the calves and glutes of your back leg normally propel you you forward.

This creates momentum that bends your knee and allows you to clear your toes as you swing your leg through. Thus, you don't have to lift your toes up that much using your tibialis anterior. It's more the knee bending that helps you clear your toes.

Often though, when people become less confident in their balance, they tend to take slower, shorter, shuffling steps.

When you do that, you don't get the power of your calves to bend your knee and clear your toes.

Thus, it requires a lot more tibialis anterior strength to lift your toes.

After you've been walking for a while and the tibialis anterior muscle tires out, it's more likely that you'll scuff your toes or possibly even trip over your own foot.

To walk normally, focus on pushing off the toes of the back foot and using your back leg to power you through when you're walking.

exercise for walking - gluteus maximus squeeze during push off

Other Causes of Tripping When Walking

There's a reason why people tend to take slower steps though.

It could be due to hip weakness, concerns with their balance, or possibly due to fear of falling because they've fallen in the past.

One common cause of both hip weakness and tibialis anterior weakness is a pinched nerve in the lower back, particularly the L4 and the L5 nerve roots.

These nerve roots innervate both your hip and glute muscles as well as the tibialis anterior.

Therefore, if you have spinal stenosis or another lower back problem that's pinching those nerves, it can give you both balance and walking problems.

Make sure that you determine the underlying reason that you're tripping over your toes in the first place before you blindly start doing exercises.

Need Help To Stop Tripping Over Your Toes When Walking?

If you live in the St. Louis area and need help to walk safely and more confidently, we'd be happy to help you at More 4 Life.

Just tap the button below to request an appointment with one of our specialist physical therapists.


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