Why Do I Drag My Feet Sometimes? --
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Last updated September 17, 2016 (originally published August 1,
By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist   

When you say someone’s "dragging their feet", you're
talking about them doing something slowly because they
don’t actually want to do it. But it’s not just an idiom. You
can literally drag your feet sometimes.

Dragging your feet can be an occasional occurrence, or
something that happens on a regular basis. But whenever
you drag your feet it can be annoying and depressing.
People comment on your walking style. You feel
embarrassed and the foot drag could also be accompanied
by pain.

It's normal to worry you that you may be suffering from a
health condition that causes you to drag your feet. If you
occasionally drag your feet what does it mean? What can
you do to stop dragging your feet?

Walking Abnormalities and Dragging Your Feet

When you drag your feet while walking it is classed as a
walking abnormality – an unusual and usually
uncontrollable pattern of movement. The pattern of
movement when you walk is called your gait.

Everyone has a different style of gait but if you drag your
feet it is considered unusual. A "steppage gait" is where the
foot drops down and the walker finds it difficult to move
without dragging the toes on the ground.

[Editor's Note:

Stepping gait, also called "high stepping" is caused when
someone raises their legs high to avoid foot dragging.  If
only one foot is involved, stepping gait may be caused by
peroneal nerve palsy and L5 radiculopathy.
Diabetes and
injury are common causes of injury to your deep peroneal

Is it Foot Drop?

Foot drop or drop foot is a medical condition where you
are unable to lift the front part of your foot.

As a consequence your toes scrape along the floor when
you walk, and you drag your feet. Foot drop can be caused
by a number of different issues that involve weakness or
paralysis of the muscles in the foot.

Sometimes foot drop is permanent and sometimes it lasts
for a short time only. Foot drop isn’t a condition in itself
but rather a part of a larger problem.

What Makes You Drag Your Feet?

If you drag your feet sometimes it can be the result of a
number of underlying conditions. Or it could be a simple
consequence of fatigue, or the after-effects of a foot injury.

If your feet drag for a short time only and then the
symptom goes away, it is not likely you have anything to
worry about. But if your toes or your foot drags along the
floor and the problem persists, consider the following

Nerve injury: when you drag your foot is it often because
you have damaged the peroneal nerve, which is a branch
off the sciatic nerve going from the front of the shin to the
back of the knee. Damage is often caused by sports
injuries, childbirth, sitting in a squat position for long
periods, hip replacement or knee replacement surgery, or
diabetes. A pinched nerve in the spine can also cause the
foot to drag.

Brain or spinal disorder: certain neurological conditions can
cause your foot to drag, including stroke (a common
reason for a person to drag their foot is when they are
recovering from a stroke), multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy,
or Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.  

Muscle disorder: a condition that causes the muscles in the
foot to weaken can result in foot drag, including muscular
dystrophy and Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The remedies and treatment for a dragging foot depend on
the root cause of the problem and on the specific condition
causing the dragging foot. We looked at some options for
treating a dragging foot or foot drop, based on recent
scientific research.

Using Braces and Shoe Inserts to Correct a Dragging

The use of lightweight braces and shoe inserts (orthotics)
is common when the foot drags. The brace or insert
supports the leg and helps to correct the dragging foot.

Although they are commonly used, experts wonder if their
use leads to decreased muscle activity in the foot. A 2002
study from Hoensbroek & Atrium Medical Centre, Heerlen,
The Netherlands investigated the use of an ankle-foot
insert to see if it led to decreased muscle activity but
concluded that the insert was safe to use.

Physical Therapy Helps Improve a Dragging Foot

Physical therapy is used to build the strength of muscles in
the feet and the legs and it therefore helps to correct the
dragging walk that you sometimes experience.

A 2015 study from Hopital la Timone, Marseille, France
demonstrated that physical therapy along with orthopedic
shoes was effective in treating a Charcot-Marie-Tooth
disease patient over 10 years and concluded that it was a
good option for treating foot drop and gait abnormalities.

Take Practical Measures When You Drag Your Foot

If you have a tendency to drag your foot it may result in a
greater risk of you tripping and falling. Make sure that all
spaces in the home are free from clutter and floor rugs and
electrical cords are securely attached.  Parkinson’s UK
reminds people with an unusual gait to make sure to wear
light-weight, well-fitting shoes with a low heel and a
fastening that covers the foot near to your ankle.

Dragging Foot as a Result of Parkinson’s Disease: What
to Do

While an occasional drag of the foot does not signify that
you have
Parkinson’s disease, many people with the
condition do experience poor posture and problems
walking, including an “increase in the amount of time their
feet remain in contact with the ground” according to
Parkinson’s UK, and develop over time a shuffling, flat-
footed gait.

In one 2012 study by the Oregon Research Institute, Tai
Chi improved gait and walking speed in people with
Parkinson’s disease, compared to other forms of physical
therapy and treatment like stretching and resistance

Treat a Foot Drag Caused by Multiple Sclerosis

Again, it is helpful to remember that sometimes dragging
your feet does not mean you have
multiple sclerosis.

But if you do suffer from the condition, you are at
increased risk of foot drop.

A 2014 study from Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh,
UK found both functional electrical stimulation and ankle
foot support were useful for people with multiple sclerosis
who suffered from foot drop.

Both techniques improved gait, reduced fatigue, and
reduced the number of trips and falls. The functional
electrical stimulation treatment was associated with
increased fitness and walking distance, while greater
balance and stability was linked to the ankle support.

Biofeedback Can Help You Stop Dragging Your Feet

A 1975 study (completed by Basmajian JV, Kukulka CG,
Narayan MG, and Takebe K) found that biofeedback
methods after a stroke more effectively treated foot drop
than standard rehabilitation techniques.

Biofeedback is a process of gaining control over
involuntary actions in the body and in the case of a
dragging foot, patients were able to achieve control of the
foot and were able to flex it normally following the

Botox Helps Cure a Dragging Foot

Researchers found that the combined use of Botox
injections and functional electric stimulation remedied drop
foot in people who had had a stroke. The 2004 study from
Salisbury Health Care NHS Trust, Wiltshire, England studied
18 people after a stroke that experienced dragging their

The combined treatment improved the quality of walking
and the function of the foot.


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