Can Tight Muscles Make You Pigeon Toed?

Treatment To Straighten Your Ankle 

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT –The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney 

Happy July

sunThings are hot here in Sarasota – today the temperature was 95 degrees in the sun. Fortunately, my office is in the shade. On the plus side it rained, and my garden was dancing with delight.

I’m happy to say I taught a live, in-person class last weekend. It came together quickly, so there were only a few massage therapists attending, each bringing their own model. I’m so happy to get back to teaching live classes again. Zoom gets really old (as I imagine a lot of you already agree). Later this month things ramp up and I’m heading to the Florida State Massage Therapy Association Convention in St. Augustine. I’ll be teaching there too, and happily communicating with a lot of massage therapists.

My therapy practice is back to normal again. Most people (including me) have had both shots. And if someone hasn’t, I just ask them to wear a mask. Not the worst thing in the world, and much better than being in pain. I’ve missed my clients and I look forward to seeing them again.

Meanwhile, I’ve been seeing many clients who are in pain, and I’m pleased to say, the results have been really excellent. There is one person who stands out because she had a condition I hadn’t seen before, or at least I don’t remember seeing before.

A Turned-In Ankle

My client was actually in to see me for a totally different condition, but while I was working on her I noticed that her left foot was turned in.

I thought it might be a bone/structural problem, but when I took my hand, I was able to make her ankle go almost straight. As a result, I knew it was muscular, and therefore there was a good chance treating the muscle could make a big difference.

It turns out her foot had been turned in for a very long time, not debilitating, but more annoying. She didn’t know what could have caused it, but my guess was she sprained her ankle at some time in the past. She said it had been sprained years earlier.

One of the interesting facts about a muscle that is sprain, or otherwise repetitively strained muscle, is it can shorten to that new length and stay that way for years and years. I had a client in New York who sprained his ankle in 1964, and I met him in 2005. The muscles were so tight that he walked as if his ankle was fused, there was absolutely no ankle movement at all. It turned out to just be severely tightened muscles holding his ankle firm, preventing the joint from moving in any direction. It took a lot of treatments, and him doing self-treatments, but we got his ankle back to normal even after all those years!

Back to my Sarasota client……

The muscles involved ended up being the Tibialis Anterior and Extensor Hallucis Longus. Both muscles originate on the front of your lower leg.

Both muscles invert your foot (turn it in toward midline) so, in this case, her left toes were pointing toward her right arch, as shown in the picture above.

Treatment To Straighten The Ankle

The self-treatment for these muscles is easy, but it can be painful at about the point where you see the ball in the picture to the left, and again closer to the bottom of your ankle.

Just put the ball to the outside of your shinbone and press down, moving your leg so the ball is rolling down toward your ankle. You are actually making the Tibialis Anterior muscle a little longer as you press out the knots in the muscle fibers.

Curl your toes as shown if you feel like your arch is going to cramp.

In the next photo I’m showing the right ankle in pain and working with my left hand.


Sit with your sore right leg crossed over your left leg. It helps if you have your right ankle on top of your left knee (I couldn’t do it because I’m taking my own picture and couldn’t get the right angle).


Press your left fingers as deeply into the Extensor Hallucis Longus muscle as you can. If your right ankle is on top of your left knee, you will be able to use two hands to do the treatment. Just put your fingers on top of each other to get more pressure.


The Results

I treated all the muscles of the lower leg, paying special attention to the two muscles mentioned. I’m happy to say that when I finished and she stood up, her feet were almost straight. With more self-treatment every day, her foot will straighten out.


My client was originally here on June 11th, and as an update, she came in today – July 1st – and her foot looked just fine. She continued to do the self-treatments I taught her, and we are happy to say, the problem is solved!


I love what I do for a living, it really makes a difference in people’s lives. Sometimes in small ways, and many times in really big ways.

Wishing you well,

Julie Donnelly

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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