How to fix Duck feet posture

What is Duck feet posture?

Duck feet posture is a postural deviation where the feet are pointing outwards. (… like a duck)

 

How can you tell if you have Duck feet posture?

Instructions:

  • Stand up.
  • Look down at your feet.
  • If your feet are pointing outwards, then you have Duck feet posture!

This is the easy part! …The difficult part is determining where it is originating from.

 

Which area is causing the out turning of the feet?


Note: It is important to understand the EXACT cause of your Duck feet posture. This will determine the specific exercises that you will need to focus on in order to address it.


 

 

a) Posterior pelvic tilt

This is where the pelvis rotates in a backwards direction.

(Think about the action of tucking your tail bone underneath you.)

A posterior tilt of the pelvis will ORIENTATE the hip joint outwards which may lead to out turned hipsknees and feet.


Tight/Overactive muscles:

  • Hamstrings
  • Abdominals
  • Gluteal group

Weak/Inhibited muscles:

  • Lumbar erectors
  • Hip flexors

 

Test for Posterior pelvic tilt:

Instructions:

  • Whilst standing, locate the following land marks on your pelvis:
    • Anterior Superior Iliac Spine (ASIS)
      • “pointy bone at the front of your pelvis”
    • Posterior Superior Iliac Spine (PSIS)
      • “pointy bone at the back of your pelvis”
  • If you have a Posterior pelvic tilt, the ASIS will be higher in comparison to the PSIS.

 

 

b) Hip External rotation

This is where the hip joint rotates outwards on the pelvis which may lead to out turned hips, knees and feet.

Note: Hip external rotation can occur in conjunction with posterior, neutral or anterior pelvis.


Tight/overactive muscles: (External rotators)

  • Gluteus Maximus
  • Posterior portion of glute medius
  • Piriformis
  • Obturator internus/externus
  • Gemellus superior/inferior

 

Weak/Inhibited muscles: (Internal rotators)

  • Pectineus
  • Anterior glute medius
  • Tensor fascia lata
  • Adductor magnus

 

Test for Hip external rotation:

Instructions:

  • Whilst standing, look down at your knees.
  • If you have Hip external rotation, the knees will be pointing outwards.

 

 

 

c) Tibial external rotation

This is where the tibia rotates outwards on the femur leading to out turned shin bones and feet.


Tight/overactive muscles:

  • Lateral hamstring
    • Biceps femoris
  • Lateral calf

Weak/inhibited muscles:

  • Popliteus
  • Medial hamstring
    • Semimembranosus
    • Semitendinosus

 

Test for Tibial external rotation:

Instructions:

  • Whilst standing, locate the following land marks:
    • Middle of knee cap
    • Line of tibia
  • If you have Tibial external rotation, the line of tibia will be outside of the alignment of the patella. (see above)

Note: It is common for this to occur in conjunction with Knee valgus (Knock knees).

 

d) Limited ankle dorsiflexion

Limited ankle dorsiflexion can force the foot to externally rotate to compensate for the lack of mobility. (… especially during walking)

This leads to out turning of the feet.


Tight/overactive muscles:

  • Gastrocnemius
  • Soleus
  • Plantaris
  • Achilles tendon

 

Test for limited ankle dorsiflexion:

Instructions:

  • Face a wall.
  • Assume the lunge position so that your knee on your front leg is touching the wall.
  • Whilst keeping your knee in contact with the wall, keep sliding your foot back as far as you can go.
  • Aim to get the front of your foot furthest away from the wall before the:
    • Heel lifts off the ground or
    • Foot arch collapses.
  • Measure the distance between the tip of your big toe and the wall.

Results: If your toe is <8cm from the wall, then you have limited ankle dorsiflexion.

 

 

 

e) Foot pronation

A collapsing medial arch of the foot may result in out turned feet.


Tight/overactive muscles:

  • Peroneus longus
  • Peroneus brevis
  • Peroneus tertius

Weak/inhibited muscles:

  • Tibialis posterior
  • Tibialis anterior
  • Plantarfascia
  • Flexor hallucis longus
  • Flexor digitorum

 

Test for Foot pronation:

Instructions:

  • Whilst standing, have a look at your feet.
  • There should be an obvious arch on the inside of your feet.

As a rough guideline: You should be able to fit the tips of your fingers underneath the arch of your foot.

If there is no gap between the bottom of your foot and the floor, then you probably have foot pronation.

 

 

f) Structural issues

Changes to the structure of bones/joints that encourage the out turning of the feet can result in Duck feet posture.

Unfortunately – these are not amendable by means of exercise alone.

The main ones related to Duck feet posture…

Femoral retroversion:

This involves the angle between the femoral head and femur body being wider than normal. (see above)

As a result, the foot turns outwards to better position the femoral head in the hip socket.

 

Test for Femoral retroversion:

Instructions

  • Lie on your stomach.
  • Bend your knee to 90 degrees.
  • Perform Internal/External rotation of the hip. (see above)

Results: If you have excessive external rotation AND minimal internal rotation (around 0 degrees), then you may have Femoral retroversion.

 

Tibial torsion (external):

The knee joint is structured in a way where the tibia is naturally sits in an externally rotated position as compared to the line of the femur.

Test for Tibial torsion:

Instructions:

  • Lie on your  stomach.
  • Bend your knees to 90 degrees.
  • Compare the line of the femur and foot. (see above)

Result: If the foot is angled outwards in relation to the line of femur, then you may have tibial external torsion.

 

g) Combination of all of the above

In most cases – it is the net result of multiple postural deviations (including others that are not mentioned above) that can lead to duck feet posture.

 

 

Why is Duck feet posture a problem?

… How can you move properly if your feet aren’t even in the right position?

As the feet are your base of support, out turned feet may lead to undesirable compensations throughout the whole posture.

As result, it may predispose you to conditions such as:

  • Lower back: Disc bulges, Sciatica
  • Hip: Piriformis syndrome, Groin strains
  • Knee joint: Meniscal injury, Premature osteoarthritis
  • Foot: Plantarfasciitis, Big toe bunion, Achilles tendinopathies

 

 

Exercises to fix Duck feet posture

 


Note: These exercise are designed to be performed pain-free. If you are unsure of anything, please feel free to contact me on the Facebook page.


 

1. Posterior pelvic tilt

READ THIS FIRST:

I have a complete blog post on addressing this issue.

Check out the post: How to fix a Posterior pelvic tilt.

(For the purpose of this post – I have included the 3 main exercises to get you started.)

 

a) Hamstring releases

Instructions:

  • Place your hamstrings on top of a massage ball/foam roller.
  • Apply an appropriate amount of body weight.
  • Make sure to cover the whole area.
  • Duration: 2 minutes each side.

 

b) Upper hamstring stretch

Instructions:

  • Whilst standing, place your leg in front of you.
    • For upper hamstring: Keep knee slightly bent.
  • Hinge forwards at the hip joint.
    • Keep your back completely straight.
    • Keep your foot pointed.
  • Ensure that you can feel the stretch in the back of your upper leg.
  • Hold stretch for 1-2 minutes.
  • Repeat on both sides.

c) Standing pelvic tilts

Instructions:

  • Stand with your hips stacked directly over your ankles.
  • Perform an anterior pelvic tilt
    • “Imagine your pelvis is a bucket and is tipping forward.”
  • Hold for 10 seconds.
  • Relax into a neutral pelvic position.
  • Repeat 30 times.

 

2. Hip External rotation

a) Glute releases

Instructions:

  • Place your gluteal region on a massage ball.
  • Apply an appropriate amount of body weight.
  • Perform circular motions.
  • Make sure to cover the whole area.
  • Duration: 2 minutes each side.

b) Glute stretch

Instructions:

  • Sit down on the edge of a chair.
  • Place your ankle on the top of the knee of the other leg.
  • Sit as tall as possible as to create an arch in your lower back.
  • Whilst maintaining this arch, pull your knee in the direction of the opposite shoulder.
  • Hold for 60 seconds.

 

c) Strengthen Hip internal rotators

Instructions:

  • Stand up with your legs slightly bent.
  • Make sure your feet are pointing forwards.
  • Place a block between your knees.
    • The block should be wide enough to keep knees pointing forwards.
  • Squeeze your knees together as hard as you can.
  • Hold for 20 seconds.
  • Repeat 5 times.

3. Tibial external rotation

a) Lateral hamstring releases

Instructions:

  • Whilst sitting on the floor, place a massage ball underneath the outside part of the back of your knee. (see above)
  • Proceed to apply pressure onto the ball.
  • Straighten and bend your knee.
  • Continue for 1 minute.

b) Popliteus strengthening

Instructions:

  • Sit down with your hip/knees bent at 90 degrees.
  • Keep your knee pointing forwards.
    • You can hold it still with your hands.
  • Turn your shin bone inwards
    • (Internal rotation of the tibia bone)
  • Make sure your foot does not lift off the ground.
  • Repeat 30 times.
  • Repeat on other side.

c) Knee push outs

Instructions:

  • Stand up with your feet facing forwards.
  • Whilst keeping your knees slightly bent, push your knees outwards.
  • Do NOT lift any part of your foot off the floor.
  • Aim to feel your foot arch and glute muscles activate.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 5 times.
  • You can place a resistance band between your knees to make the exercise harder.

4. Limited ankle dorsiflexion

READ THIS FIRST:

I have a complete blog post on addressing this issue.

Check out the post here: How to improve your Ankle dorsiflexion.

(For the purpose of this post – I have included the 3 main exercises to get you started.)

a) Calf release

Instructions:

  • Place your calf muscle on top of a foam roller/ball. (see above)
  • Put your other leg on top and apply pressure down towards the foam roller. (if required)
  • Roll your leg from side to side.
  • Make sure you cover the whole muscle
  • Do this for 1-2 minutes each side.

b) Calf stretch

Instructions:

  • Place the ball of your foot as high as possible against a wall (see above)
  • Keep your heel planted on the floor.
  • Lock your knee straight.
  • Learn forward into your ankle.
  • Aim to feel a deep stretch sensation at the back of the calf.
  • Hold for 1-2 minutes.

 

c) Joint mobilisation

Instructions:

  • Place your foot onto a stool.
  • Using your body weight, proceed to plunge forward as to place pressure on the front ankle.
  • Keep the heels of your front leg in contact with the stool throughout movement.
  • Repeat 30 times.
  • Note: You can use a resistance band (as set up as above) to encourage more joint movement

5. Foot pronation

READ THIS FIRST:

I have a complete blog post on addressing this issue.

Check out the post here: How to fix flat feet.

(For the purpose of this post – I have included the 3 main exercises to get you started.)

a) Peroneal release

Instructions:

  • Place the outside of your lower leg on a massage ball.
  • Apply pressure over the ball.
  • Make sure to cover the whole outer side of the lower leg.
  • Draw circles with your ankle to increase the release.
  • Duration: 1-3 minute

b) Arch strengthening

Instructions:

  • Stand with your feet facing forwards and shoulder width apart.
  • Whilst keeping your toes relaxed, proceed to scrunch the under-surface of your foot.
    • Imagine that you are dragging your big toe backwards.
  • Aim to feel a strong contraction of the muscles underneath your foot.
  • Hold this for 5-10 seconds.
  • Repeat 20 times.
  • (… if it feels like you are going to get a cramp under your foot, you are doing it correctly!)

c) Leaning with arches

Instructions:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Keep your arches lifted throughout the exercise.
    •  (see the above exercise: Arch strengthening)
  • Keeping your legs straight, lean your whole body forwards from the ankles.
    • You will need to dig your toes into the ground to prevent you from falling forward.
    • You can perform this exercise in front of a wall if you feel you are going to fall forward.
  • Use your feet/toe muscles to prevent yourself from falling and return to the starting position.
  • Repeat 10 times.

 

6. Bringing it all together

… What’s the point of doing these exercises if they don’t translate to what’s important to you?

In addition – I would also recommend that you attempt to keep your feet straight (without forcing it) whilst standing, walking, exercising etc.

(This is easier said than done… but do what you can do!)

With time, consistency and effort, it will be come more natural for you to place your feet in the neutral position.

 

 


“… MARK! What happens if only ONE foot is pointing outwards?”

There are 2 situations where this can occur.

1.  You have a 1 sided issue: If this is you, just complete the above exercises on the appropriate side only.

2.  Your pelvis is rotated: A twisted pelvis can result in one out turned foot.

In this case, check out this post: How to fix a Rotated pelvis.


 

 

Conclusion:

Duck feet posture is a postural presentation where the feet are turned outwards.

The main cause can originate from the pelvis, hips, knee, ankle or foot joints. (… or even a combination of)

It is important to understand what is causing your duck feet posture as this will determine the exact exercises you should do to correct it.

If you only have 1 foot that is out turned, it is recommended that you perform the exercises on one side or address your pelvic rotation.

 

 

… Any questions?

Let me know in the comments section below!

I will reply to you as soon as I can.

 

 

About

I am a physiotherapist who has personally experienced the pain as a result of bad posture. I would like to offer you some of the solutions that I and my patients have greatly benefited from.

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19 thoughts on “How to fix Duck feet posture

  1. Hello Mark
    I am new here, but I read a few of the articles and my I really liked your blog.
    I have a question. Please try and answer it, I will be really grateful!
    I am a 16.5 year old guy. My height is stuck at about 5′ 4″ for 2 years now.
    It might be because of my very poor posture. Due to inactivity and sitting, my posture has got really bad.
    I have:
    #Anterior Pelvic Tilt
    #Hunchback posture
    #Rounded shoulders
    #When I straighten my legs, the front
    part(under knee) is tilted slightly. (Like
    when i straighten left leg, the part under
    knees is slightly left, and above knees is
    towards middle of my body. Same with
    other leg)(what is it called?)

    So the questions I want to ask are-
    1. Can I really increase my height if I correct my posture?
    2. Which posture exercise should I first target if I wish to increase my height as soon as possible(the height due to posture)? I mean, hunched back has different exercises than APT, so which one should I target first for height?
    I know you might be busy, but please reply!
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Ami,

      Addressing your posture may help you increase your height to a degree.

      Perhaps start with the hunch back posture and see how you go from there.

      If you have time on your side, you can do your APT at the same time.

      Mark

  2. Hi Mark,
    as I read through your post, it seems that my problem is actually the externally rottated tibia/fibula. Apart form the popliteus, is there a good way to isolate and strenghten only the medial hamstrings? Can you suggest a good approach.
    Thank you for the great articles, you have helped a ton!
    Keep up the great work.

    1. Hey Vasil,

      It is very difficult to isolate a single muscle with any exercise, but if you want to emphasise the medial hamstrings to internal rotate the tibia relative to the femur, you can still use the strengthening exercise for the popliteus muscle exercise.

      Mark

  3. Can you please make a post about hyperextension there is not much about it on internet, also i have only my tibia pushed away like a bow leg but not the femur.

  4. Hi Mark! I have a question about the exercise.

    c) Knee push outs
    Instructions:
    Stand up with your feet facing forwards.
    Whilst keeping your knees slightly bent, push your knees outwards.
    Do NOT lift any part of your foot off the floor.
    Aim to feel your foot arch and glute muscles activate.
    Hold for 30 seconds.
    Repeat 5 times.
    You can place a resistance band between your knees to make the exercise harder.

    Could you send a photo of this exercise, as it is not very clear how to do it.
    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Matteo,

      Sounds like you have Anterior pelvic tilt with tight External rotation fibres of your glutes.

      This can cause a restriction in your hip Internal rotation and cause the out turning of your foot.

      Mark

  5. When I walk I notice that my right foot is swerving to the right.
    I have a left pelvic rotation.
    Do pelvic exercises are sufficient to repair the shaper.

    1. Hi there,

      If you have a left pelvic rotation with a right leg that sticks out, chances are that your hip external rotators may be very tight.

      Stretch them out and see how that goes.

      Mark

  6. Hello mark,i cannot feel any pain when rolling biceps femoris, can my tibial torsion be caused by the tfl?
    I also have knocked knees. But when i try and rotate tibia in it goes away (but i cannot hold this godly perfect position). PLS REPLY AND HELP A POSTURELET OUT!

  7. If only one foot is pointing outward does that mean that side of the pelvis is rotated forward or that the opposite side is rotated forward?
    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Mark,

      Thank you so much for making these wonderful, detailed articles. You’re truly great at what you do!

      I was wondering if you could offer me some advice. Unfortunately, I’m pretty certain my pelvis is shifted in every plane it could be. More specifically, my hip is hitched up on the right side, I have a Left Pelvis Rotation, and a Posterior Pelvic tilt. My left shoulder/trap is higher then my right (probably due to the hip hitch) and I tend to have duck feet.

      I think this may all stem from and injury to my left knee/quad many years ago I incurred when squatting incorrectly. My left VMO is undeveloped because my body/brain does not seem to want to put that much weight on it or maybe I just cant really use my left leg correctly.

      Anyway I know I’m a mess lol, but I was wondering if you had any general advice. Do you think there is any particular place I should really spend my time focusing on strengthening or stretching? I’m thinking I may have overlap because my body is so twisted up that I may get more bang for my buck so to speak by focusing more effort on one particular area.

      Thank you.

      1. Hey Broken man,

        Sounds like you have trained yourself into your current posture following your injury.

        If you feel the left knee is the area that is driving all of your other compensations, I would start single leg loading patterns on that left side. (eg. lunges, single leg squat, step ups etc)

        This will your body get used to placing equal weights through your legs, and thus help with the postural compensations throughout.

        Mark

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