Understanding Duck Feet – Out Toeing
Out-toeing or duck feet is when your child’s foot points outward instead of straight ahead when he or she walks or runs. Like in-toeing, while out-toeing is often normal and will correct on its own throughout normal development.
There are some conditions associated that can cause out-toeing that are serious. Out-toeing is much less common than intoeing and can occur in older children. Out-toeing can also run in families.
What is the cause of out-toeing?
There are few common causes of out-toeing:
During pregnancy, both the baby hips are flexed up and rotated outward to fit in the mother’s womb. This position is known as hip external rotation (the feet are pointed inwards). This external rotation contracture present at birth and usually goes away when the child starts walking.
This is when the shin bone (tibia) is twisted outward. Similar to the external rotation contracture of the hip, external tibial torsion is also usually due to the positioning of the baby in the womb.
Flat feet occur when there is no arch in the foot. This can give the appearance of out-toeing. Flexible flat feet are normal in babies and toddlers.
When to see a podiatrist or specialist about out-toeing?
For the most part, there is no need to be alarmed if you notice that your feet are turning slightly outward as you walk.
For most people, this abnormal gait can also develop as compensation for an injury, lack of muscle strength in key areas of the foot and legs, or poor posture. While the duck waddle is adorable in children and most outgrow naturally as they develop but it is not the most glamorous way to walk for adults.
For children, help should be sought if it is causing the child to fall more often than normal, is affecting participation in daily activities or the feet are stiff and not improving with time. Such a condition can lead to problems if left untreated. This walking abnormality can lead to knee and back pain, ankle injuries and severe flat feet. It can put a lot of additional stress surrounding joints and ligaments or set the stage for injury, including plantar fasciitis due to the additional strain on the fascia.
How is out-toeing treated?
Treatment for out-toeing gait is dependent on the contributing factors and the severity of the condition. Early intervention can assist in preventing future complications arising from poor foot posture and gait patterns. Common treatment options include:
Book in and see our podiatrist today if you suspect the presence of out-toeing or would like a general lower limb assessment. Early intervention is key in preventing future complications. Let us help your child to put their best feet forward today!