Which muscles are typically overactive when the feet turn out?


Feet turning out, a condition where the feet point outward rather than straight ahead, is a common postural issue. It can lead to various problems, including misalignment of the knees and hips. This condition often indicates overactivity or tightness in specific muscle groups. In this article, we will explore the muscles typically overactive when the feet turn out.

The Mechanics of Feet Turning Out

Before we delve into the specific muscles, it’s important to understand the mechanics behind feet turning out. Overactive muscles are those that are compensating for weaknesses or imbalances elsewhere in the body. In the case of feet turning out, these overactive muscles are often trying to stabilize the lower body.

Identifying Overactive Muscles

1. Hip External Rotators (Piriformis, Gemellus, Obturator Internus and Externus)

  • Location: These muscles are located around the hip joint.
  • Function: They assist in rotating the thigh outward. When overactive, they can contribute to the external rotation of the feet.

2. Tensor Fasciae Latae (TFL)

  • Location: The TFL is located on the side of the hip, connecting to the iliotibial (IT) band.
  • Function: It plays a role in hip flexion and stabilization. When overactive, it can pull the thigh into external rotation.

3. Gastrocnemius and Soleus

  • Location: These muscles make up the calf complex.
  • Function: They are responsible for plantarflexion of the ankle (pointing the foot downward). Overactivity in the calf muscles can contribute to feet turning out.
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4. Peroneals

  • Location: The peroneal muscles are on the outer side of the lower leg.
  • Function: They assist in controlling the outward rolling motion of the ankle. When overactive, they can contribute to feet turning out.

Effects of Overactive Muscles on Posture

When the aforementioned muscles are overactive, they can lead to a cascade of postural issues. These may include:

  • Knee Hyperextension: Overactivity in the calf muscles can lead to excessive straightening of the knee joint.
  • Increased Pronation of the Feet: Overactive muscles on the outer leg can lead to the arches of the feet collapsing.
  • Compromised Hip Stability: Overactive hip external rotators and TFL can lead to instability in the hip joint.

Stretching and Mobility Exercises

Addressing overactive muscles is crucial for correcting feet turning out. Incorporating specific stretches and mobility exercises to target these muscle groups, such as calf stretches for the gastrocnemius and soleus or hip stretches for the external rotators, can be highly beneficial.


Feet turning out is a common postural issue that often indicates overactivity or tightness in specific muscle groups. Understanding which muscles are typically overactive allows for targeted stretching and mobility exercises. By addressing these imbalances, individuals can improve their posture, reduce the risk of associated injuries, and enhance overall lower body alignment. Remember to consult a fitness or healthcare professional if you have concerns about your posture or exercise routine. With dedication and consistent training, it is possible to correct feet turning out and achieve optimal lower body alignment.

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