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Instep Dance Magazine Articles

Reprints of monthly column as first appearing in Instep Dance Magazine (no longer in print).

June 2003

Pigeon Toes

Presented by Rick Allen, DC

"Better health leads to better dancing."

Michelle Uttke, owner of Fancy Feet Grand Ballroom in Oregon City, tells me that she sees a lot of dancers with internal rotation of the feet, or, more simply stated, pigeon toes. Interestingly, she observed that this occurs more frequently when the dancer is unsteady, perhaps when learning a new step.

What is the cause of pigeon toes?

Pigeon toes are caused by two factors: (1) internal torsion of the bones of the legs or hip joint and (2) tightness of the internal rotator muscles of the legs.


Torsion of the leg bones is a congenital problem that orthopedists treat with braces to force the bones to grow properly as a child grows. Congenital internal torsion at the hip joints may require surgical correction. Tightness of the internal rotator muscles of the legs is a problem that can be treated with stretching of these muscles and strengthening the opposing external rotator muscles with exercises in children and adults. A good protocol would be to turn the leg out against resistance ten times at least twice a day. Increase the resistance as your strength increases, always aiming to keep in the 8-12 repetition range.

Rick and Sharon lesson with Michelle

Additional Factor:

Since internal rotation of the feet may also be part of the picture with pronation, or flat feet, see your chiropractor or podiatrist for a complete examination of the feet and legs before starting an exercise program. You may also be a candidate for orthotic foot supports. Foot supports have been shown to improve balance and performance for golfers. This may also be true for dancers, especially if they are unsteady on their feet. If this is the case, I suggest that you get this professionally checked.

NOTE: There will be no article next month – I am getting married to Sharon McCluskey on June 20th. We're practicing our dancing with Michelle in preparation for a fun wedding, reception and honeymoon cruise.


Photo, right: Rick, Sharon and instructor Michell Uttke during lesson.

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