Build your calves by walking on tiptoes.
Chronically walking on your toes can lead to overly tight calves and a cascade of problems with your legs, hips and feet - such as happens with women who always wear high heels. But when used in physical therapy or a part of a lower leg strengthening routine, tiptoe walking can strengthen your calf muscles, help you manage flat feet and add flexibility to your toe extensors.
Build Calf Strength
Your calves are made up of two muscles. The large gastrocnemius is felt at the back of the lower legs and works to point your toes, such as when you push off the ground during running. The soleus is located under the gastrocnemius and flexes the foot toward your shin in a movement known as plantar flexion.
The gastrocnemius is targeted when you walk on your toes. You target the muscle in the same way that a classic heel raise does. You don't want to create chronic tightness in the calves, so only do two to three sets of walking on your toes across a room or gym floor.
Other ways to strengthen the gastrocnemius is through weighted calf raises done by standing on the edge of a step with your heels hanging off, lifting and lowering your heels as in a class heel raise. Add weight for more challenge. Likewise, you could carry a dumbbell in each hand alongside your hips as you toe walk across the room for additional resistance.
Support Flat Feet
If you have fallen arches or flat feet, tip toe walking can help. Flatfoot occurs when the sole of your foot comes into complete, or near complete, contact with the ground. You may be born with flat feet, or it may be formed by weakness in the tendons of the lower leg caused by overuse or injury.
The toe walking can strengthen the arches of your feet to better support your legs and body so you experience less associated pain in your hips, back and ankles as a result. Flat feet also benefit from going barefoot in the grass or walking on other uneven surfaces, such as pebbles.
Stretch Toe Extensors
The small muscles of the toes can become tight and cause pain your feet. Walking on your toes improves these muscles' range of motion so they can bend towards the top of your foot. This improves circulation and overall foot comfort.
Start by rolling up to your toes while seated, and then progress to full-on toe walking. If you have tendinitis in these extensor muscles, toe walking can be quite painful and potentially damaging.