What is slapping feet when walking?


Foot slapping is often described as the following:

  • Foot drop, sometimes called drop foot, is a general term for difficulty lifting the front part of the foot. If you have foot drop, you may drag the front of your foot on the ground when you walk.

Often times this can be fixed but may require use of a brace around the ankle. Each case will vary.

Foot slap is often referred to as drop foot or foot drop.  There could some differences but for the most part they have similar implications.  The first thing to do is see your Doctor to be checked for any signs of nerve damage.  In many cases "foot drop" is associated with paralysis with muscles in the lower leg.  Although this is probably not the case most of the time, still have it checked.

The sound of the foot slapping comes from the inability of the anterior tibialis to control the forefoot, after the heel strikes when walking.  This muscle is on the front of the tibia (the large bone in the lower leg) and is commonly the culprit when it comes to shin splints. 

Foot slap can be controlled by incorporating an appropriate flexibility and strenghtening program.  First, as usual, get an assessment from an NASM Certified Personal Trainer in order to determine where the muscular imbalance may be originating.  Most of the time, there is noticable flattening of the foot and/or the foot is turning out, during the overhead squat assessment. If this is the case begin to perform the following:

  • Use self massage on the calf complex.  Either with a foam roll or enlist the help of a massage therapist.  These muscles are restricting proper motion as well as affecting the anterior tibialis from a neurological perspective.
  • Next, use static stretching on the calfs.  This can be done with a typical wall stretch, leaning forward to stretch the calves.
  • Follow this up with "toe taps".  Simply point the toe down, then pull all the way up.  The goal is to get the top of your foot as close as possilbe to the front of the lower leg.  Begin with just the weight of your foot, then you can add resistance with a band if necessary.
  • Once this is complete perform "towel scrunches". Place a towel on the ground, and pull it towards you with your toes.
  • Last, integrate in single leg balance work.  Perform this by simply standing on one leg for 30-45 seconds. 

If possible perform the exercises barefoot.  For more information please feel free to leave a message on my wall!

Good luck!

Continue Learning about Walking Biomechanics

Walking Biomechanics

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.