When I'm doing an assessment I start at your feet. Your feet and your pelvis are the two foundations that can make the biggest impact on your alignment. If you are putting either in a poor poition relative to the rest of your body, the rest of your body will suffer.
There are two things most of us do with our feet that causes difficulty. You probably do one, if not both of these things and don't even know. Standing and walking with a turnout, and over pronating.
Over pronation is when your arch collapses under your weight upon standing.
A turnout is when you stand and/or walk with your toes pointing away from the midline.
Today I'm going to address the turn out.
The alignment truth is your feet should point the direction in which you are heading, not out to the sides.
So, we are going to do a little experiment. Please stand up as you normally do. Look down. Easy so far, right? Do you see your feet doing something like this:
Most people do, therefore this is normal. However, it is not natural. A rich cultural history of dance and military service makes this a learned bahavior. NO, you needn't have been in dance or served in the military to have aquired this stance. This is a learned behavior. Look at a toddler's feet upon standing. They usually point forward. The turnout happens as they watch and learn from the people around them. You probably have a similar turnout to one of your parents because you learned their postural habits.
If this is the new normal what is the problem? Well, it causes a multitude of problems all the way up the body.
Lets talk about how to align the feet properly. It isn't just point them forward, though that is a good start. The outside of the feet should line up. Try that now. Stand up and line up the outter edges of your feet with a straight edge. The grout line on your tile or a ruler on the floor work well. Now look down.
Now you're saying, "But, Tanna, this can't be right. My toes aren't pointing forward, they're pointing in! I'm now pigeon toed!" Perhaps you are seeing something like this:
Ah, yes. But this is just the toes and they can be corrected apart from the rest of the foot! To point somewhat forward while in a turn out your toes all started turning in relative to the foot.
Notice something else now. It isn't just your toes pointing in, but also your knees. So now I've got you knock kneed and pigeon toed!
Your knees must point forward in the direction in which you are heading too. So, when you are turned out at the feet your knees have to rotate inward to point forward. They don't rotate in isolation though. Your knees point in because your femur is rotating inward from the hip. This rotation is wreaking havoc on your knees.
This is the goal:
Everyting pointing the direction in which you want to go, which is forward!
You can see in my right foot there is a nice toe spread, and in my left foot I apparantly have to grip the toes to take a picture. I didn't realize my feet helped take pictures! This is a pattern of tension of which I was unaware. Patterns of tension and toe spreads are topics for another day. Today I already have too many feet pictures on my phone for any normal person.
There are exercises that are simple to help you correct this, but knowing that you're doing it is the first aligned step forward.