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Mountain West Foot & Ankle Institute Mountain West Foot & Ankle Institute
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Is it normal that my child walks like a duck?

The way your child walks is often concerning to you as you see them roll in, flatten out or even "walk like a duck". You may have some questions we commonly hear about this condition in our office, such as:
 

Is this normal?  
Should we do something early to ensure the child doesn't have pain later?
Why does he/she walk this way?

 

First of all, parents want to know if it's normal for their child's feet to be developing the way they are. While there is no one perfectly normal way to develop (many patterns lead to healthy feet) it may help to know that children's feet often rotate from infancy through the teen years as they continue to grow. So, a child's feet may point more outward than appears "normal," but that's not really a cause for concern.

 

What should be a red flag for concern is if the child is having problems such as frequent tripping/falling, complaining about not liking running/getting tired if they are in otherwise good physical condition. If this is occurring, it may be that the child needs some assistance from a podiatrist. The best thing to do would be to bring the child in for a podiatric gait analysis. During this exam, the podiatrist will examine the way your child walks and carries herself, and look at the structure of the feet looking for things like arch height, pronation and supination, and leg length discrepancies. Usually inexpensive orthotics are prescribed based on the unique abnormalities of your child's feet. If orthotics do not solve the problem, other treatments and even surgery are available. 

 

Second, parents want to know if this abnormal foot shape will cause their child pain later in life. The answer depends a lot on how the child deals with the abnormal shape. If the gait is affected, it's likely that there will be problems. Abnormal gait causes abnormal stress on parts of the body that aren't supposed to be stressed that way. So, it can lead to foot problems, and knee, hip and back problems also become more likely. 

Third, parents want to know why their child walks this way in the first place. The answer is right under their nose: their own feet. Foot shape is usually inherited, which means, barring any abnormality, your child has the same foot shape as either you or your spouse, or a combination of the two. This can be troubling to parents with foot conditions, but it doesn't have to be. In fact, it can be beneficial to know what conditions kids may be prone to so that we can give preventative treatment to avoid certain conditions progressing to painful problems. 

Brandt R Gibson, DPM
Podiatrist, Neuropathy Doctor, Father of 11 and Founder of Mountain West Foot & Ankle Institute