What To Do If Your Legs Give Out While Walking: 3 Easy Tips

Do your legs  give out while walking, as if they won't support your weight, or it feels like you may fall?

In this article, I'll share three simple tips that you can start using right away to keep your legs from giving out while walking.

Table of Contents

3 Reasons Your Legs May Give Out While Walking

Before we go into the tips, it first helps to understand what causes your legs to buckle while walking in the first place.

There are two causes that have to do with the legs and one that has to do with your lower back.

1. Foot Pronation / Hip Weakness

The most common cause for the legs "giving out" that I see in my clinic is that when people walk, they allow their foot to pronate or flatten too much.

overpronation can cause make your legs give out when walking

Additionally, if they some hip and glute weakness that causes their knee to go inwards, throws their leg out of alignment.

When your leg isn't in a straight line, it's not as stable.  Therefore, it may feel like your leg will buckle or give out, or like you have to grab on to a piece of furniture suddenly.

2. Lack of Full Knee Extension and Over-Striding

The second reason your leg may give out when walking not getting your knee straight enough and over-striding when you're walking.

The longer of a stride you take, the greater the distance between your center of gravity and your front foot.

So when you transition onto one leg and your center of gravity is really far behind your foot, it might feel like that front leg is going to give out on you.

This is particularly true if you lack full knee extension either due to knee arthritis or a knee surgery.

3. Pinched Nerve in Lower Back

The third problem actually has to do with your lower back.

If you have spinal stenosis or degenerative disc disease, walking too upright can actually cause you to pinch nerves in your lower back.

That's why many older people tend to lean forwards when walking... because it opens up the spaces in the lower back where the nerves come out.

Tip 1: Dome the Arch

The first tip is going to be to address that first problem of the knee going inwards too much.

If you hit a little bit more on the outside part of your foot, and dome your arch, this keeps your hip knee and foot in alignment.

strengthening exercise for ankle #2 - arch lift

Additionally, if you thing about turning your knee out slightly, that activates the glute muscles in your buttock.

Together, these tips keep your leg in proper alignment so that it doesn't feel like your leg will give out when walking.

Tip 2: Shorten Your Stride

The second tip is to try to try to shorten your stride slightly. If you can keep your center of gravity closer to your front foot, your leg will be less likely to give out.

Ideally, you do want to be able to get your knee completely locked out so that you're not having to use a lot of muscle force to support your weight.

If you focus on hitting the ground with your knee straight and center of gravity fairly close to overtop of your leg, that will make your leg feel more stable.

An additional tip that can help is to focus on pushing off with your back foot instead of pulling yourself forward with your front foot.

Tip 3: Lean Trunk Forward

Many people start to hunch over as they age and they'll almost try to force themselves to try to stand up taller and walk.

However, the nerves that supply strength to your legs come out of your lower back, and forcing an excessively upright posture can actually make your legs weaker and more prone to giving out.

facet joints in motion

Conversely leaning your trunk forward slightly opens up the space in the lower back where the nerves exit the spine.

If you follow that previous tip that I mentioned about pushing off the back leg and landing with your weight over top of your foot, that will help you to lean your trunk forwards as well.

By combining all three tips, you take a step, land on the outside of your foot with your center of gravity over top of your foot, and your trunk will also be leaned slightly forwards when you land.

Bonus Exercise to Improve Leg Strength & Stability

By doing those three things regularly when you walk, you'll build new walking habits.  These habits will make your leg feel more stable when you're walking.

The good news is that you don't even have to take a lot of additional time out of your day to exercise.

But if you're looking for exercises to strengthen your leg, one really good exercise is to take a step and balance your body over your front foot.

Then just do little mini knee bends. It's halfway between a single-leg squat and a lunge.

exercise to help if your leg gives out when walking

Do 10-20 repetitions on each leg.

That'll give you more confidence, balance, and strength in your legs to help prevent your legs from giving out while walking.

I hope you found this post helpful.

Need Help For A Leg That Gives Out When Walking?

If you live in the St. Louis area and need help to get stronger, improve your balance, and be more confident when walking, 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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