Being pigeon toed is common in children, and if the condition is not correctly addressed it continues into adulthood. What causes this condition, and what’s a pigeon-toed adult to do? In this article, we will discuss the causes of pigeon toe and provide some good advice to help you address and cope with this condition.
You’ll also learn answers to the following question:
- What causes a person to be pigeon toed?
- Can being pigeon toed cause knee problems?
- Are fast runners pigeon toed?
Read on to learn more.
Table of Contents
Pigeon toe (aka: “intoed foot”) may be caused by biomechanical, physiological and/or anatomical factors. The condition is not necessarily painful and may not interfere with everyday activities, so it is not uncommon for it to go untreated in childhood. As an adult with intoed foot, you may experience some injury risks so it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with your condition and develop a plan of exercise and personal care that will minimise potential for complications.
There are three common childhood conditions that may cause pigeon toe.
1. Internal femoral torsion is a condition in which the femur (thigh bone) naturally rotates inwards and this causes the lower leg to follow suit. This is a common condition in small children, and most of the time they outgrow it naturally. Physical therapy (which can take the form of play therapy) can be helpful in accelerating this correction. Children who are pigeon toed may also benefit from wearing orthopedic shoes or use of orthotics in regular footwear.
2. Internal tibial torsion is a condition in which the tibia (shin bone) rotates inward and causes the foot to turn inward. This condition is also common in small children and usually self-corrects by age ten.
3. Metatarsus adductus is probably caused by the position of the fetus while in utero. When this is the case, the foot curves inward and correction is necessary. Sometimes this condition can be corrected with foot massage; however, in some cases the curved foot must be put in a cast to be straightened.
Causes of in-toeing as an adult
In some cases, in-toeing may be caused by a neurological condition. If your condition developed as an adult, this may be a cause for concern and you should discuss it with your doctor.
Another condition that may cause in-toeing in adults is “pelvic control” This is caused by a lifelong, sedentary lifestyle. For decades it has been very common for people in developed countries to spend the vast majority of their lives (from kindergarten to old age) in a seated position. This causes laxity of the hip ligaments. It also causes weakening of the gluteal muscles. This can cause a person to become pigeon toed later in life.
To prevent this, it is a good idea to avoid a sedentary lifestyle. Schoolchildren should have frequent recess at school and should be encouraged to play naturally. Teens, adults and seniors should get up and move about often throughout the day and cultivate the habit of exercising for at least 20 or 30 minutes daily.
There are also specific rehab exercises that can be used to strengthen the hip ligaments and exercise the gluteal muscles to provide for correct extension and external hip rotation.
In this video, the presenter shares several easy exercises to help correct pigeon toe. The video is in Chinese with clear English subtitles. Exercises are easy to follow even without reading the subtitles.
Correction of Pigeon Toe training
Are there athletic risks?
Your joints may not diffuse the impact of running and other sports as efficiently as those of non-pigeon-toed athletes. This can lead to pain in the knees and ankles when running or participating in sports. Talk with your doctor, physical therapist or podiatrist about corrective footwear for pigeon toed adults or orthotics to provide you with greater support.
Being pigeon toed can help you as a runner
Interestingly, being pigeon toed can give you some athletic benefits. Athletes who in-toe are often thought to be more explosive and faster than others. The reason for this is that the outer edge of pigeon toed feet strike the ground first and roll inward naturally leading to smooth, quick forward movement.
Stay fit and strong
Take a multi-disciplinary approach to addressing your gait issue by exercising and participating in a wide variety of games and activities that will improve your strength, your posture and overall fitness.
Anecdotal evidence indicates that yoga practice may be helpful in correcting pigeon toes because of its focus on correct alignment of all parts of the body. While there is no solid proof of this, practicing yoga surely cannot hurt, and it is always a good thing to add to any health and fitness regimen.
No matter what the reason for your in-toeing, light, daily exercise is always a good idea. Talk with your doctor or physical therapist to identify specific exercises that may benefit you based on the cause of your condition.