Are you worried that your walk may have become more of a waddle?
If your feet turn outward while you walk, there’s a high likelihood that you are duck footed–or, more technically, that you are “out-toeing” when you walk. You’ve probably seen children who have recently begun walking display this duck footed gait, since the hips naturally turn outward in babies.
While the duck waddle is adorable in children (most of whom outgrow the trait naturally as they develop!), it’s not the most glamorous way to walk for adults–and it can lead to problems if left untreated.
What should you know about duck feet, and what can you do about them?
All About Out-Toeing
For the most part, there’s no need to be alarmed if you notice that your feet are turning slightly outward as you walk. While the cause of duck feet can be hereditary in some cases or a rare holdover from childhood, for most people this abnormal gait develops as a compensation for an injury, lack of muscle strength in key areas of the foot and legs, or poor posture.
That doesn’t mean your should ignore over-toeing, however! If left unaddressed, this walking abnormality can lead to knee and back pain, ankle injuries, and flat feet. In other words, being duck footed 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.
Treatments for Duck Feet Walk
Treating out-toeing and its primary symptom of abnormal gait is, luckily, quite simple! For many people, simply paying more attention to the way their feet fall as they walk can make a significant impact. You’ll also want to take notice of the way you position your feet when resting or standing–since this has an impact on duck feet too! Make a concerted effort to keep your feet facing forward (instead of turning outward or inward) while you walk, stand, or rest to help your muscles remember the correct alignment!
In addition to simply paying more attention, the following options can take the waddle right out of your walk!
One of the best ways you can help retrain your muscles and regain a normal gait is to use inexpensive orthotic inserts in your shoes. These inserts help stabilize the heel and keep your foot aligned rather than turning outward while you walk. If your duck feet stem from an injury or lack of muscle strength, orthotics can also provide additional support and comfort when walking–not to mention heading off or healing plantar fasciitis caused by a flattening arch!
Spending 20 minutes each day on a few simple stretches can limber up muscles and avoid soreness or muscle stress as you work to change your gait. The same foot and leg stretches used to treat plantar fasciitis can help improve your duck feet walk and put you on the path to a realigned gait.
As you work to get your muscles back in line, you may experience some soreness or mild muscle discomfort. Massage and self myofascial release can be a great way to relax tight muscles and address soreness that stems from changing your gait.
If you’ve noticed a waddle in your walk, there’s no need to fear. Simply noticing the problem and then monitoring your gait and posture carefully can make a world of difference! Add slip-in orthotics for support and stability, plus a massage for any soreness if needed, and you’ll be well on your way to correcting your gait. By incorporating these simple changes, you’ll be striding straight in no time!