Twisting Feet Activity
Misalignments in the knees and hips can affect your feet. Sometimes, the effects are obvious, as when people toe out like Charlie Chaplin. But even when your feet point straight ahead, troublesome twists may influence their motion, especially under the demanding conditions of sports. The more subtle twists sometimes make themselves known by causing pain or injury. Or they may show up only as an abnormal wear pattern on your shoe soles.

To do and notice
Get a friend to check you out. Seat a friend behind you while you stand barefoot, wearing shorts so that your legs show. Lift one foot up and back and support all your weight on the other leg. Have your friend compare the positions and orientations of your raised foot, knee, and thigh with the drawings.

What's going on?
The misalignment line-up

Drawing (a): In an ideal foot, everything is lined up vertically and the feet point the same way that the person does. Few feet actually match this ideal.

Drawing (b): This is a supinated foot. Note the way the sole of the foot slants downward, toward the outer edge of the foot.

Drawing (c): The toe points outward even though the top of the thigh faces straight ahead. The knee is twisting. This misalignment occurs more frequently in athletes and in males. It encourages pronation of the foot and can cause stress and sometimes pain in the knees.

Drawing (d): The leg rotates externally about a vertical axis, causing the knee to point outward. This rotation of the hip, which is common in ballet dancers and wrestlers, results in a toe-out alignment that causes pronation.

Drawing (e): In this case, the hip rotates inward and turns the knee and toe with it. Women exhibit this toe-in orientation more than men. It can cause a painful roughening of the underside of the kneecap called chondromalacia.

What to do if things don't line up

Often, misaligmnents that involve twists and rotations result from muscle imbalances that you can correct. Ask a sports physician, podiatrist, or other biomechanically savvy medical specialist to prescribe appropriate exercises and stretches to achieve realignment.

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