General Dance Discussion > Pigeon-toed

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by SwinginAngel, Nov 10, 2004.

  1. SwinginAngel

    SwinginAngel New Member

    I am pigeon toed. It is the way my bones formed and starts from my hip. I noticed it doesn't look very pretty for dancing, or in general for that matter, but I always shrugged it off because I figured it is something I cannot control. Tonight, though, my dance idols and mentors told me it would be something I would have to fix if I want to take my dance to the next level. I definitely want to become a better dancer but I don't even know if that is possible. They were telling me about other people who had to do it but I am not sure that is applicable to me because after just a few minutes of trying to walk normally I felt slight pain in my thigh and hip and my knee felt contorted.

    Has anyone else had this or a similar problem? Is it possible to change something like this? They made it sound like it was a choice between changing the way I walk to become a better dancer or not becoming a top level dancer. Okay, I don't expect to win any competitions being pigeon toed but could this really keep me from being considered a top dancer?
  2. squirrel

    squirrel New Member

    It looks kind of weird when a dancer is pigeon-toed... I used to be like that, but didn't have any problems changing... :? I know a girl who is pigeon-toed, she's a great dancer and nobody seems to mind...
    If you dance socially, for your pleasure, I don't think it really matters... that is, if you dance from your heart and technically correct...
    But for competitions and shows it is a different story...
    Still, I have no idea how to help you. It sounds more like a medical issue (of how the bones are constructed...). Maybe a doctor could help...
  3. blue

    blue New Member

    I needed google to understand what "pigeon toed" means. I am a bit of the opposite - it seems the term is "knock-kneed" in English?

    I guess either version would be a problem for any kind of elite performance. Actually, this kind of conditions can be changed - but if it is worth it regards to your dancing, I must say I have no clue.

    My sister told me her knock-kneed-ness (if that is what it is called) disappeared while she was doing a special kind of yoga, that is considered very "body correcting" but she got it back when she no longer did this yoga. I started to do it to see if it could change my legs - and it did. I had very obvious improvement in just a few months - I never could stand with both my anclas and my knees together. Now I can, although with a little strain. The really good thing is, the change stayed after I quit this yoga! which is called Iyengar yoga. My yoga teacher was surprised - he did say his yoga was "body corrective" bud did not have the ambition to change being knocked-kneed.

    If you want to change it then maybe you can find a program somewhere, developed by physiotherapist or similar, against being pigeon toed. Othervise you could check if you have some yoga teacher with experience of correcting similar types of... I hesitate to call it problem, but find no better word. Although part of it might be with you from birth, large portions are probably a matter of how your body has gotten used to function. Even bone is live material that changes after the circumstances but my guess is the muscles are the key issue unless it is very extreme.
  4. MacMoto

    MacMoto Active Member

    Being knock-kneed is not necessarily the opposite of pigeon-toed as you can be knock-kneed AND pigeon-toed at the same time. If you are knock-kneed, then you are the opposite of me -- I'm bowlegged, i.e., my legs curve outward, so when I stand with knees straight, there's a gap between the knees. An effect of this is that I normally put my weight on the outside of my feet, and I've been wondering if this is part of my balance problem. I wonder if yoga may help correct this... I think I'll google for Iyengar yoga and see what I find.
  5. blue

    blue New Member

    OK, then I have misunderstood... a check in the dictionary, yupps. Oops! Then my previous whole post is out of context. :oops: I was taking pigeon toed for meening bowlegged... Then I don't dare saying anything about being pigeon toed.

    I remember in my yoga the emphasis on pressing the knees out - so maybe this does not help bowleggedness at all. I read a news article about a physiotherapist who herself cured most of her bowleggedness - it took many years and lots of effort, but then she was an extreme case. I guess my main point it that we tend to think that anything joint/sceleton related can not be changed in other ways than with surgery, but it can. If it is worth it, is another question.
  6. Another Elizabeth

    Another Elizabeth Active Member

    I was very pigeon-toed growing up, and it was a real problem in my dancing for a long time. I took lots of lessons, talked to a sports medicine orthepedist, all kinds of stuff. Finally, I went to a shoe store that actually looks at how you walk and the shape of your feet to fit athletic shoes (Marathon Sports in Cambridge, for any Bostonians reading this). They sold me a pair of Asics cross-trainers with the "right" shape of arch support for my foot, and the pigeon-toed-ness in my dancing went away almost completely in a few months. I was shocked. It still comes back when my ankles are very tired, but other than that, I don't have to think about it any more. The heels of my shoes don't wear down in strange patterns any more, either. I wear the cross-trainers every day walking to and from the train (I change to heels at the office), and all day on weekends.

    Good luck!
  7. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Having your ankles misaligned to the needs of a dance isn't so much a visual problem as a functional one - though something recognized as faulty technique has it's own way of looking ugly.

    In standard, a foot needs to be aligned to the direction of travel so that your can roll through its length - in effect, your foot is like a sector of a wheel that executes a fraction of a turn between when you arrive on it and when you depart, and that fraction of a turn covers an important amount of ground. If the wheel isn't pointed in the direction the car is going, you have problems. Also, even when you aren't rolling through the foot, having the foot and thus knee aligned to the direction in which your partner is going presents a narrower profile that blocks them less than if you turn it somewhat sideways to them. The exception of course would be promenade, where body flexibility limits force you to move across the feet with some degree of diagonal.

    In latin, turnout is requied I have to say I don't fully understand why, but the reasons that apply to standard (rolling through feet and working in very closed hold) don't apply here obviously.

    Latin and Standard have different rules for foot alignment, but both are important - and it would certainy possible for someone to have a natural tendancy to err in either direction from the needs of either style. I personally think maintaining awareness of what you are doing while walking down the street is a good exercise, but others may disagree.
  8. SwinginAngel

    SwinginAngel New Member

    That is how I feel. It isn't really affecting my life too much so I don't think surgery would be worth it. But people seem to think it is something I could just practice doing differently, like unlearning a bad habit.

    Another Elizabeth, I definitely have to look into those shoes. That would be great for running as well as dancing. Do you think any shoe store like Foot Locker or Athlete's Foot could help me find something?

    Chris, I understand what you are saying about the functional problem but really I don't see how I could change that. I have tried walking differently and it doesn't just feel difficult; it feels like a range of motion my body is not capable of achieving.

    It is sad to think that it is not even possible for me to be accepted as a top dancer because of the way I was born. I could work hard at doing everything else right and the best I can hope to be is a great social dancer. There is nothing wrong with being a social dancer but it is frustrating to think that circumstances outside your control have already decided your fate (Sorry if this sounds melodramatic. I don't mean it to sound that way).
  9. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    It doesn't sound melodramatic. It sounds sad, disappointed, and a little angry. All perfectly understandable reactions. It doesn't seem fair.
  10. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Have you ever tired ice- or inline-skating?

    Those seem like they would drill latin/ballet type turnout.

    When my sister was maybe 2 years old, she had to wear shoes attached together by a metal bar at night - I forget if they were fixed in tunrount to correct turn-in or the other way around, but apparently there are known corrective techniques. Obviously something like this would work best on a child, but I would think some degree of slow change should be possible for an adult.
  11. Another Elizabeth

    Another Elizabeth Active Member

    You could try wearing the same shoes to see if they work for you, but they may not, since your feet are probably differently shaped. It's certainly worth a try. I don't know how to go about finding a shoe store that has sufficiently knowledgable people to fit a shoe correctly for you - it's unlikely that the people at the usual chains will be able to help. I know that the people at Marathon Sports identified the Asics shoe and one of the Saucony models as ones that worked well for excessive pronation (which is what they said was wrong with my walk - it was visible as pigeon-toed-ness, but they said that the tendency to pronate was what was causing it). The Asics shoe fit my narrow heels better than the Saucony, so that's what I got.

    Also, I wouldn't assume that you can't correct your feet just because you couldn't do it in a couple of minutes. You may just not have found the right walking position for you yet, or you may need to progressively stretch out muscles and tendons that have tightened in the wrong places. The hip joint is capable of amazing flexibility. Maybe you should try a yoga class where you can work on opening it up to increase your range of comfortable motion.
  12. LindyQuest

    LindyQuest New Member

    Wow! Reading this made me feel like I was reading about myself! I am pigeon toed as well, starting at the hips (as my doctor said, my feet are straight, but my hips are crooked). He had told me that the only way it could be fixed would be for them to break my hips :shock: , then I would have to spend six months in traction while my legs and hips (hopefully) healed straight. So after hearing this I decided it was definitely not worth it, I figured I would just try to deal with my feet being crooked. :(

    But now after reading everyone's suggestions (Yoga, support shoes, etc.), I feel like there might be some hope for me. :D I mean, I love dancing, but I've pretty much accepted that competition would be out of reach for me, mostly due to my feet. Luckily, though I don't have too many problems social dancing (or at least people are polite enough not to make me feel bad about it).

    Thanks for the help, everyone. It's good to know I'm not the only one dealing with this. :D
  13. Swingolder

    Swingolder New Member

    My dh has problem feet too, not pigeoned-toe but pointing out. Doesn't bother his dancing any since all we do is social dancing. But you should see him cross country ski! His parallel tracks aren't very parallel!
  14. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Maybe 15 years ago, 'skating' technique started to compete with parallel technique in cross country skiing. I think both have their place... I used to keep a pair of cheap plastic tag-sale no-wax skis that were nearly sharp enough on the edge to skate, but also workable the traditional way. It does work better with the modern bindings than with the old 3-hole system though.
  15. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    dh. Dear husband? Just checking. I can't keep up with the acronyms. :oops: :lol:
  16. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    Any such change in the way you walk will produce these kinds of pain. It's quite normal, and is a result of you using your muscles in a way you are not used too.

    You should of course consider talking to a specialist on the subject.
  17. Swingolder

    Swingolder New Member

    We tried the "skating" technique and decided it was way too much work! Parallel skiing, even though it also is great exercise, seems a much better way to enjoy the snowy :? landscape.
  18. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Oh, I agree it's classier... kinda like standard.
  19. sunderi

    sunderi New Member

    I have one leg (right) that is "normal" and one (left) that is pigeon toed. I, too, have been struggling with this. I don't know if what works for me will work for everyone, but I've simply started on a regimen of consciously turning my left foot out ALL the time -- when I walk down the street, when I jog, when I do Pilates, and when I dance. It has definitely caused some muscle/tendon pain along the way as my body gets used to this new way of standing/moving, but there has been definite improvement. I had some knee pain, but I went to my doctor and she said it was the kind of pain that would be best if I just worked through it (NOT TRUE OF ALL KINDS OF KNEE PAIN -- if this happens to you, you should see your doctor). Eventually the knee pain stopped and the ankle pain started. I take this as a sign of progress? :? But seriously, it has really helped me. I'm still not there 100%, but there's been improvement.
  20. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Have you tried anything else, such as massage therapy or chiropractic treatment? Just curious. My sister has scoliosis (curvature of the spine) which tilts her hips and makes one leg appear longer than the other. She visits a chiropractor regularly, and often sees as much as an inch difference in the perceived leg length, following an adjustment. I wonder if chiropractors could help pigeon-toed people, as well.

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