Great Lakes Foot and Ankle Institute BlogHow Walking Problems Can Cause Foot Deformities
How Walking Problems Can Cause Foot Deformities
Nov 1, 2021 2 min read

Having trouble walking doesn’t just affect how you look. It can also affect the health of your feet. Often, these problems with walking (better known as gait abnormalities) aren’t your fault. They can be caused by a number of conditions, including injury and improper footwear.

Still, walking improperly takes its toll over time. Not only can you develop problems with hip and back pain, but you can also develop foot deformities.

You may need to have an evaluation from a podiatrist and possibly get new shoes and even physical therapy. The providers at Great Lakes Foot and Ankle Institute, with locations in Michigan and Illinois, explain more about how walking problems can lead to foot abnormalities.

What causes foot deformities?

Foot deformities can have a variety of causes. Sometimes, they’re present at birth, such as clubfoot, which is an example of a pediatric foot deformity. However, we’re talking about the types of foot deformities that develop over time, as a result of poor gait.

The wrong footwear

Wearing the wrong footwear can change the way you walk and can even create permanent deformities in your feet. Shoes that are too tight or that pinch your toes (such as high heels) are more likely to cause this.


Some people have weaker connective tissue than others, which makes it harder for the structures of your foot to hold together. This makes foot deformities more likely to occur.

Equinus deformities

Most often, this type of deformity is caused by tightness or shortening of the Achilles tendon or calf muscles. This can happen as a result of growth, injury (such as being on crutches for a while), or even from wearing high-heeled shoes too much.


Being overweight puts tremendous stress on your joints and bones, including the bones in your feet. This can alter the way you walk as well.

Inner ear infections

Inner ear infections can disrupt your entire sense of balance, often without you even knowing it. It’s not uncommon for people to have inner ear infections that they just learn to live with. Because your balance is disrupted, you change the way you walk.

What types of walking problems lead to foot deformity

There are several different types of walking problems that can lead to foot deformity. The most common include:

  • Propulsive gait: this causes you to walk with your head and neck thrust forward, which results in walking with a rigid, slouched posture
  • Scissors gait: your knees cross or hit each other with a scissors-like movement, which makes you walk with your knees bent slightly inward
  • Spastic gait: you drag your feet while walking, which can make you appear to walk very stiffly
  • Waddling gait: you appear to waddle from side to side while walking
  • Steppage gait: you walk with your toes pointing downward, which causes your toes to scrape the ground when you walk

A gait analysis by a podiatrist can determine if you have one of these walking patterns.

How walking problems lead to foot deformity

When you have something wrong with your gait, you’re more likely to develop other conditions that further reinforce your poor walking patterns. These conditions include:

  • Hammertoe, when your toes get bent upward at the joint
  • Bunion, a bump (usually on your big toe), which may also cause pain, redness, and swelling
  • Neuroma, a thickened area of tissue (usually between your third and fourth toes) that cause pain, burning, tingling, and numbness

If you suffer from any of these issues, we can address them at Great Lakes Foot and Ankle Institute. Schedule a consultation today by calling our office most convenient to you, or get in touch online.

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