Some research places a large focus on ensuring that a client's feet point straight ahead and state feet that deviate from straight ahead are caused by muscle imbalances. However, other authors state that the anatomy of the ankle joint means that the feet should point out five to 15 degrees, and in one article, Paul Chek states that the feet can point out up to 30 degrees. Which one is correct?
Great question! The reason it seems so confusing is because all answers are correct. Of course, it depends on what you’re trying to accomplish! Remember, in any analysis, you must understand why you are doing what you’re doing. In this case, you said feet straight or toed out, BUT when? In walking, squatting, lunging, stepping and running? In walking, most authors say the “normal” for efficient walking is said to be up to seven degrees. However, if someone walks with greater than seven degrees and it’s symmetrical, it may be his function and therefore efficient for his individuality. The key is not to stick to any one rule yet apply unarguable principles to each person you work with, and IF you assess an inefficient way to perform a task, start to ask why – because they are showing you what they are SUCCESSFUL in doing. Always build on your client’s success as opposed to “correcting” so called abnormal positions. So back to your question. I suggest you 1) ask, “What task am I trying to execute?” 2) find where your client is successful subconsciously; and 3) tweak the movement pattern in attempts to make them more efficient at performing the intended task (exercise). If your goal is to perform walking straight ahead as fast as possible (speed tweak), then an excessive toe out walk would be an inefficient way of performing this task. However, if your goal was to stimulate the groin complex instead of the posterior gluteal complex while walking, then the excessive toe out would be perfect for that goal. Hopefully, this doesn’t confuse you, but functional understanding is a paradox!