How to Fix Duck Feet Posture

What is Duck feet posture?

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:

  • 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

The content presented on this blog post is not medical advice and should not be treated as such. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. For more information: Medical disclaimer.


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.


 Do you want to improve your hip mobility? Feel free to check out this post: Exercise for Hip Internal Rotation.)


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!


Do you want to fix your bad posture?

Join the 30,000+ subscribers in our email list to receive postures tips, blog updates and more.

143 thoughts on “How to Fix Duck Feet Posture”

  1. Hello
    When I point my feet forward/straight, my knee cave inward slightly, for this case should I keep my knee straight or toe straight before solving the issue by doing the exercises mentioned above?

    Reply
    • Hi Javier,

      This suggests that your tibia may be externally rotated. (see post)

      It can also mean that your foot is rotated outwards in which you will need to address this as well.

      If you have high arches, see this post. If you have low arch, see this post.

      Mark

      Reply
      • Thanks Mark
        My tibia is certainly rotated externally
        I start doing the exercises above every day and hopefully I will see some improvements soon.

        Reply
  2. Hi Mark

    My right foot points outwards, would this usually be a sign of an externally rotated hip? Or can a foot that points outwards also be in conjunction with an internally rotated hip?

    Thank you :)

    Reply
    • Hi Linsday,

      A food that point outwards can occur in conjunction with a hip that is internally or externally rotated.

      It really depends on what the rest of the leg is doing.

      Mark

      Reply
  3. Hi Mark, my right foot is externally rotated and when I turn my foot straight, my knee turns inward. My right foot isn’t flat, it has quite a high arch. I don’t have any signs of pelvic rotation other than when I exercise, my hips are asymmetrical.

    1. Does a foot pointing outwards usually mean that the external rotators are tight?

    2. My right foot points out, but it’s my left that is more pronated. Is it possible that I have a right pelvic rotation?

    Reply
    • Hi there,

      1. Not necessarily. It sounds like you might have external rotation of the tibia bone. This would explain why the knee rotating inwards when the foot is straight.

      2. Yes – this is definitely a possibility.

      Mark

      Reply
  4. Hi Mark,
    I’ve been skateboarding for about 7 years now and the last 4 years I have had really bad knee pain. At first I thought it was jumpers knee (patellar tendonitis) due from all of the jumping and impact from skating, but now looking at my legs I can see that I have duck feet, but could I also have jumpers knee as well? The pain in my knee can be pretty bad when I’m walking up stairs or standing up for ages and even when I’m sitting down I will still have pain.
    What knee excises do you think will work best?
    Cheers

    Reply
    • Hey Jaydon,

      It is possible that Duck feet posture may predispose you to placing extra stress onto your patellar tendon. (especially if you are doing a lot of jumping)

      I think you would benefit from a progressive tendon loading program.

      Have a look at these exercises to get an idea of what you could do: Knee exercises. (The exercises listed here are more for clicking in the knee, but they can be applied in your situation as well)

      Mark

      Reply
  5. Hi Mark,

    what kind of specialist should I see to find out if my external tibial rotation is a structural issue or if it is a functional issue that could be fixed by exercise?

    Reply
    • Hey Jack,

      I would give the exercise a try over the next few months to see if you can get any changes.

      If there is no response, it may suggest that it is structural.

      In terms of who to see, most healthcare providers like physical therapists, chiros, osteo etc should be able to help you out there.

      Mark

      Reply
  6. Mark,

    Since High school JROTC + dance I’ve gravitated toward a turned out stance. When I make my feet parallel, my knees actually face more inward… what in the world is going on? I think I have some Foot Pronation and Hip External Rotation going on… but what about when my feet are parallel? What’s up with that?

    Reply
    • Hey Brittany,

      Sounds like Tibial External rotation with flat feet. This would explain the knees going inwards as you straighten the foot.

      You can try the exercise mentioned in the blog post for the knee.

      If you would like exercises for flat feet, check out this post: How to fix Flat feet.

      Mark

      Reply
  7. What adjustments or what exercises would you recommend for an elderly (87)yo man who has had a hip replacement 1.5 years ago and had his foot turning out from the “get go” after surgery and is now having falls secondary to tripping on the front part of his foot getting caught on things?

    Reply
    • Yes, he did PT for the full amount of time ordered. And my father is who said that it was externally rotated from the “get go”. But he also said that his PT finally agreed when my dad didn’t improve. I honestly thought that it was a way to stop PT, but I also don’t live near him to have better knowledge on the situation.

      Reply
      • Hi K Zambrano,

        If the foot turned out wards straight after the surgery, is it possible that the surgeon aligned the whole leg outwards? If this is the case – it is best to consult with the surgeon who performed the surgery.

        If it is due to walking compensations, my first feeling would be that the glutes are tight and/or there is a limitation in the amount hip internal rotation.

        These would probably be the 2 issues that he might need to address first.

        He can release the glutes by sitting a massage ball. Follow this up with glute stretches (best to look on google). And then encourage internal rotation of the hip.

        Mark

        Reply
  8. Hey! Im no pro or anything but you have the symptoms I have. Try the Hip External Rotation exercises. Also try to determine if its your piriformis thats causing the problem. It is for me and im now obsessed with stretching it out. I hope this helps

    Reply
  9. Hi Mark –

    For the popliteus exercise the last step says: “repeat on the other side”. Are you talking about doing this on the other leg? Or are you talking about rotating the foot you are working on in the other direction which appears to be what the associated picture suggests.

    Thanks!

    Reply

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.