Hello, my five year old daughter is pigeon toed. Do you have any suggestions to help her correct this as a dancer? I know there is a chance that she may grow out of this and she also may not. Thank you so much!
Great question as many young children are pigeon toed. You see it most commonly in a child under 2 years of age and that can occur from how the baby was positioned in utero with the foot and/or shinbone being turned inward. I have talked about external tibial torsion where a child’s foot and shinbone (tibia) is more turned out than their thigh bone (femur) is. This is the opposite called internal tibial torsion. It often starts to self-correct itself after the child becomes more mobile. I saw this recently in one of my grandsons, who now by the age of 3 1/2 is running and walking with much less toeing in than I previously saw.
The other main reason for being pigeon toed is how the thigh is placed in the hip joint. Being five years old now, this might be where your daughter’s pigeon toed gait may be coming from. The medical term is femoral anteversion and when your daughter is standing without thinking about it both her knees and her feet would turn in rather than having the knees and feet facing forward.
A child with femoral anteversion can easily W-sit as in picture on the right – and – teachers and parents should gently change their position when we see this.
Being in dance class can often help develop the rotator muscles at the hip which will help turn out the whole leg. This isn’t going to happen over night, and the child with a turned in hip has to be extra careful they are creating their turnout from the hip rather than turning out just the feet to make it look right. I’ve seen a LOT of early pronation problems in young children due to their desire to make their positions look more turned out than what they actually can create at the hip. That’s my main concern with a young dancer who comes into dance class being pigeon toed. He/she needs to work primarily in parallel (over toeing in) and not worry too much about a small first position.
My suggestions for you is to see if you can see where the toeing in is coming from and then encourage running, kicking a ball, regular outdoor play… along with taking dance classes.
I’ve read the majority of children self-correct this toeing in by the age of 8 – so she still has some time to repattern as she is going through various growth spurts and muscle patterning.
To your success,