How to fix Duck feet posture

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?

out turned feet

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

duck feet posture 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

tibial external rotation duck feet posture

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.

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

d) Limited ankle dorsiflexion

ankle duck feet posture

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

flat feet duck feet posture

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.

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 External rotation:
    • Drop your foot towards the mid line of the body.
  • Perform Internal rotation:
    • Drop your foot away from the mid line of the body. of the hip.

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.

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

duck feet posture 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

stretches for duck feet posture

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

exercises for duck feet posture

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 increase your Ankle dorsiflexion.

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

a) Calf release

how to fix duck feet posture

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: Exercises 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.


What to do next…

1. Any questions?… (Leave me a comment down below.)

2. Come join me on the Facebook page. Let’s keep in touch!

3. Start doing the exercises!

99 thoughts on “How to fix Duck feet posture”

  1. Hi Mark,
    Do companies make wearable braces for people with duck feet so the foot will remain straight while walking?
    Thank you!

    Reply
  2. Hi Mark!

    I am a rather complicated case, and I’d love your initial thoughts on the proper exercises for me because I am similar to some of the cases you outline here. I have severe external tibial torsion and supinated feet, below-the-knee edema, and muscle atrophy except for overdeveloped inner calf muscles (medial head gastrocnemius). When mindful of my gait, I can correct my duck walk, but it often causes a slight lateral heel whip of my right leg or more excessive supination in both feet. The right leg has lost more muscle — 1/2 an inch smaller at the broadest circumference to be precise. Seventeen years ago, I had a rare version of lateral foreleg Compartment Syndrome, where both peroneal muscles ruptured both fasciae a few inches above the outer ankle during a college lacrosse sprint workout. A few months after that, I had lateral foreleg Compartment Release surgery to release the rest of those same fasciae. In the past seven years, I have also developed two herniated discs — S1 – L5 and L5 4. Multilevel changes are most pronounced at L5-S1, where a central protrusion contributes to mild neural foraminal stenosis and abuts the descending right S1 nerve root. I am currently working with a team of competent doctors in Boston to find a non-surgical remedy. But they are confused by my complex mix of ailments, muscle imbalances, and gait irregularities. I have been doing Calf Releases with a lacrosse ball and Popliteus Strengthening with Balance Body Functional Footprints. Do you think those are right for me? Are there any other exercises you think I should suggest that my doctors consider adding to my regimen? How long do these muscle imbalances have to last before spinal nerve root damage is seen as the main culprit?

    Thank you so much.

    Keep up the great work!

    Matt
    Cambridge, MA

    Reply
    • Hey Matt,

      As you have obvious muscle wasting on that right side and a possible L5 and/or S1 nerve issue, I would make sure the doctors have done a complete neurological examination (reflexes, dermatome sensation, myotome testing, nerve conduction test, nerve tension tests). I would also recommend screening the lumbar spine with provocative tests to see if it influences the right leg)

      If all of these are negative, then it is more likely due to the old injury/surgery of the compartment syndrome. You may have developed an asymetrical gait pattern since 17 years ago when this all happened. These factors could lead to muscle atrophy on that right side.

      Did the tibial external rotation and supination only come about AFTER the injury/surgery? (Could be structural /genetic presentation) Large medial gastroc is quite common in people with out turned toes.

      If so – I would focus on the exercises as mentioned in the blog post. Popliteus training would be very important here. As would releases to the lateral hamstrings.

      Mark

  3. hi there my feet go outwards when i stand straight and if i try put my feet straight, my knee go inward. it effect both my legs but more on the right side. i feel like i have less rotation in my right ankle. what do you think i should do

    Reply
    • Hey Daniel,

      Might be Tibial torsion: This is where the lower leg bone is rotated outwards relative to the upper leg bone.

      If this is the case – it is best to follow the protocol on the blog post which is mentioned under “Tibial external rotation”

      Mark

  4. I’m very worried about my left foot! Just my toes are turning outward, I went to a foot doctor who said he didn’t know about why my toes are turning out, and has never seen a issue like this? He suggested orthotics, I do wear over counter orthotics in most of my shoes for years, being a hairstylist and always worn uncomfortable athletic working type shoes never designer shoes 👠 and I wear custom orthotics for my ski boot. Can a custom orthotic fix the out turning of toes? The out turned toes start from cuboid and cuneiform bones out toward the toes. So all my toes are turning left outward which affects my comfort in ski boots, Birkenstock, or form fitting trainers, with small toe box area. My toes become numb, burning, and tingling only during the wearing of these type shoes, and I don’t want to give up skiing. I do yoga and work on my Periformas muscle most days. Any suggestions on correcting this issue is greatly appreciated.

    Reply
    • Hello Debbie,

      It sounds like there might be some unwanted rotation happening in the joints to cause your toes to deviate to the side.

      I suspect it could be something to do with how your foot pushes off the floor when you walk.

      Do you have knock knees?

      Mark

  5. I had a broken ankle and had two surgeries on it I was duck feet and now my left foot and ankle is turned straight will I be able to correct this without surgery and will I be able to walk again

    Reply
  6. there i saw your article abour correcting duck feet. i have had duck feet for awhile but did not think nothing of it until now. i do martial art and it seem to be affecting me but i do not know what exactly it wrong. when i stand straight my feet outwardand my knee is straight. if i try put my feet straight my knee go out i also cant turn my feet inward to much can

    Reply
  7. Hey Mark, does hip external rotation causing duck feet makes more sense than other causes if there’s also anterior pelvic tilt along with? Also, is the only stretch you showed for the hips sufficient ? I see other people recommending the other hip stretch where you work the opposite hip flexor

    Reply
    • Hi Eduardo,

      You can have Duck feet with an anterior pelvic tilt.

      In this scenario, the hips are likely in a whole lot of external rotation.

      Stretching the hip external rotators and strengthening the internal rotators PLUS address the anterior pelvic tilt will be the way to go.

      The stretch shown in the blog post should be enough… but feel free to do others if it hits the appropriate area better.

      Mark

  8. Hello, Hello, Mr. Wong! I found your site when searching about toe-out feet. It seems to me that my case might be C, tibial external rotation. My knees seem to point forward.
    I have a question. If I’m not mistaken, Katy Bowman explained that the knee pits (back of knees) should point directly backwards, and that if they point outwards (as mine do, even though my knees appear to point forward), then you need to practice externally rotating your hips to pull them together (something like that). If I align my knee pits to point directly backward, my knees and feet point outward a lot. On the contrary, If I’m not mistaken, I saw a video on the chi running website that said to correct duck feet you need to internally rotate your entire leg. (This would make my knee pits even more outward pointing.) This doesn’t make sense to me.
    I have quite a bit of knee pain. I’m 34. I grew up very lazy, so I didn’t develop strength. In college I began to exercise but without proper attention to form. I realized my knees were a big weakness. Currently, I am focusing on Jason Fitzgerald’s injury prevention for runners program. I’m 8 weeks in, and I love it. My knees have never felt better with all of this running and exercise. Yet, I still feel their weakness. For instance, they hurt too much when I try to step up onto a step. Sometime, especially when my knees are tired, I can’t bear my weight, unless I stick my rear out farther behind me. It’s hard to describe. At a certain angle, my knees cannot bear my weight. Sometimes it’s not so bad, but today it was, after this past week of a higher intensity of exercise. This led me to my search. Before I began my exercise program, I asked my doctor to refer me to an orthopedic doctor to check my knees, but she said she couldn’t justify it and advised me to “strengthen those legs!” Please advise 🙂 thank you.

    Reply

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