Do Pigeon Toes Impact Running?

The right shoes can prevent injury for pigeon-toed runners.

The right shoes can prevent injury for pigeon-toed runners.

Strap on your running shoes and hit the road, even if you have pigeon toes. This condition won't stop you from running, and it might even give you a leg up on the competition. While having pigeon toes can impact your running, there are some considerations to keep in mind.

Definition

Look down at your feet. If your toes point inward -- instead of straight ahead or outward -- you have pigeon toes. It's likely you've had the condition since you were a baby; it's common for infants to develop pigeon toes, or in-toeing, as they start to stand. As you get older and develop better muscle control, your toes may rotate to point straight ahead, but don't worry if they don't -- having pigeon toes doesn't interfere with your day-to-day routine.

Running Speed

You might be a speed demon if you have a pigeon-toed gait. Sports medicine specialist Gabe Mirkin, M.D. suggests that if you have pigeon toes, your shin muscles are so well-developed that you naturally run on your toes. A toe-first strike when you're running tires out your calves less than other types of foot strikes, and it allows you to run faster -- sprinters often run with a toe-first strike.

Shoe Fit

There's a shoe for every occasion, and this holds true for runners. Whether you prefer minimalist or barefoot shoes, or a more structured, padded option, having pigeon toes may make it harder to find the right pair for you since the curve of your foot can make shoes uncomfortable. Consult a podiatrist or running gait specialist for the best fit, but your best bet may be a pair of shoes with adequate cushioning.

Iliotibial Band Injuries

Pigeon-toed runners usually underpronate, which means the jolt to your foot that comes from running is concentrated on the outside of the foot. Routine underpronation while running can trigger iliotibial band injuries, such as iliotibial band syndrome, or ITBS. ITBS causes knee pain from a tight or swollen iliotibial band and can take you out of your running routine; so, if you have pigeon toes, take special care to get the right shoes and warm up before running.

 

About the Author

Nicki Wolf has been writing health and human interest articles since 1986. Her work has been published at various cooking and nutrition websites. Wolf has an extensive background in medical/nutrition writing and online content development in the nonprofit arena. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English from Temple University.

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