Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pigeon Toes Quandary

I know all teachers have had students with varying degrees of Pigeon Toe, I have had a few myself in just the past few years alone. My latest quandary comes from one of my dear three year old's. She has severe "turn in" a near 90 degree inward turn when she doesn't concentrate on her position. Just this week, after a challenging time skipping I finally decided to talk with the parents. We've been having class for about 6 weeks, so I'm more comfortable with the student and parent now. I explained my observations and they agreed. The trick is the girl's doctor has told the parents "not to worry about it, plenty of athletes are pigeon toed." The Mom told me she's asked the Dr. at nearly every visit about it with the same response. Now that I've opened the door for conversation she almost seems relieved that I've noticed and want to help her find a solution. I explained that it's not her feet, but the rotation from the hip which effects the turn in, and that left without therapy she'll be prone to injury her whole life. Not to mention, it would be difficult for her to excel at dance or other sports. My advice was to get a second doctors opinion, consult an orthopedic doctor, and/or a chiropractor to get some options on treatments and therapies. I also showed her some at home stretches and things to do herself with her child. As well as things that I do during class to help her.

I found it interesting that this Mom instinctively knew something more needed to be done, but that the doctor's comments were so powerful he could override that instinct. One of my observations was that this first time Mom of an adopted child from another country had the instincts, but not the confidence to challenge the Dr.-- maybe because of the fact she's adopted, I'm not sure.

I walked away from the studio that night knowing that I really made a difference in the life of this child, from just one simple conversation. Now, the Mom feels empowered to get second opinion and to aggressively treat this child while time and growth are still on her side. Just one more reason why I love to be a dance teacher. We really can make a huge difference in the lives of children.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for your blog about pigeon-toes. What strtches in particular help this condition? I teach a young gymnast with excess turn-in at the hips. She has reasonable hamsting flex. but somewhat tight hip-flexors and very tight back. Any help is appreciated!

DeAnne Boegli said...

I suggested the butterfly stretch and showed them how to help her sit and watch TV in that position so it could become a normal activity. I also suggested the regular v sit but with someone holding the feet back. I think this is a case of the Hip Flex being too long or over stretched perhaps. We need those inner thighs areas to get stronger and longer. I also encouraged her to lie on her back with legs up then open in a V with some gentle push on the inner thigh/above the knee.

Nothing too spectacular, just basics. I also think ballet Barre' work will help but she's too young for that yet.

Jess said...

Hi DeAnne,
I stumbled across your blog and was so glad to see that you helped this little girl the way you did! I was VERY pigeon toed as a child, used to trip over my own feet and as a corrector, my pediatrician suggested my parents enroll me in dance classes. I constantly struggled with horrible "growing pains" in my legs as a child, but no one understood why. Now at 24, I recently had Arthroscopic hip surgery to remove the damage done by my 16 years of dancing without proper treatment of my "pigeon toes". I think dance is a wonderful thing and when combined with orthopedic treatment, it is the best solution for this problem. I wish my dance teachers would have been as knowledgeable about this as you!

Anonymous said...

I recently found your blog as a result of a google search for pigeon toes. I'm 25 and have dealt with it my whole life. Surgery and braces when I was young did nothing to correct it, and if it did, it's still very noticeable, and as a result, there is a lot of verbal abuse that I have received. 25 years worth. I was wondering, would hip and knee replacement fix it? I'm desperate to change it, and willing to try anything. Never noticed any real bad growing pains when I was young, but now I have days where I feel as though my knees will buckle and my hips have really bad pains. Was wondering if anybody else has had it this long and was able to correct it through surgery. Please help.

DeAnne Boegli said...

I'm not an expert on surgery so I can't lend you advice there but I would find a good set of doctors including orthopedic surgeon to help. At least in Madison, Wis. where I am I've heard of great hip replacement work being done at University of Wisconsin Hospital - you could check that out. All my best to you, but I would say that the sooner you address this the better. Age is not your friend as this progresses.

Paula Navea said...

hello! I'm a 17 year old dancer who never had appropriate training but I've been dancing in school shows since I was 3 and I've been dancing for my high school for 3 years. I have severe pigeon toes and it absolutely bothers me that I cannot do a single without falling out or sickle-ing my feet to my leg. I've been having a hard time doing simple pirouettes or coupes in that case. I'm thinking about auditioning for my college's Dance team but they require triples at least. By any chance, what would you recommend for me to do as an in home exercise and or other methods that I should do to outgrow my pigeon toe? thank you very much and have a good day :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this article. I have a question though, I'm 13 and pigeon toed from femoral antiversion (everything from the hip down turns in). I was wondering if I would still be able to take dance classes considering alot of ballet moves I've seen consists of having your heals together/toes out which I can't do. I'm one of those people who can't put their feet together let alone turn it out. Would that hender me from being able to participate? Also what should I do if I get called out and the instructor doesn't understand why I can't stand certain ways? (Trust me I've had teachers/school photographers yell at me for not being able to) Any advice? Thank you.

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