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Knock Knees?

Written by Boroondara Osteopathy

A well-known clinic in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs founded by Dr Katie Willy (Osteopath)

Do your knees come too close when you walk?

Maybe they even touch?

They shouldn’t!

Genu Valgum is the technical name for knock knees. 

And no, you shouldn’t need to brace or head to surgery to straighten them!

Natural growth pattern…

Our legs go through a natural developmental sequence when we are young, we develop bowlegs from 20-22 months of age. This then straightens out and keeps going past neutral into knocked knees, peaking at 4 years of age and this should all come back to a normal position again by the time we get to 7.

So why do they stay this way?

When you notice someone’s knock-knees, we think “…geez they look a bit awkward…”, but even though they look awkward the cause is not often the knees themselves. The knee is forced into that inward position because something further up or down (possibly the hip or ankle) has displaced the normal knee mechanics causing them to bend inwards.

Instead of being evenly spread through all the joints of the lower body, we might be avoiding putting pressure through an old hip injury or surgery (even childhood hernia operations), or an uncomfortable or previously injured ankle.

The knee is the one that buckles to accommodate the load.

The knee closes on the outer side and forces the joint open on the inner side, being pushed closer towards the other knee. 

genu valgum | knock knees | Balwyn | Osteopath

But the knees look like the problem, so why are they not?

If someone has, for example, hurt their hip or sprained an ankle especially when they were younger (see our blog on “Why your posture is not your fault” by Dr Katie Willy), this can mechanically change the orientation of the knee. As shown by those research studies mentioned below, if there’s something not comfortable with the hip then we need to alter where our force goes through, and the inside of the knee seems to be a common scenario to open up. The good thing is we know with some tailored awareness and movement practice we can re-train the joints to work together with the rest of the body.   This is what we see in clinic and in our own bodies.

We know there is a direct link between hip function and knock knees.

Studies have found that children who have had corrective surgery for shallow angled hips have ended up with knock knees afterwards. The same was found to happen with older people having hip replacements.

This tells us that by changing the composition of the hips, more force was pushed onto the outer side of the knee, forcing an inwards movement.  It wasn’t the knee’s fault!

This also tells us that when we can get the hip working more appropriately, the reverse should be true and the pressure on the knee might even out.  

Knock knees are just a body strategy.

With the knees having to succumb to the loads placed on them, they are a mechanical strategy because somewhere another joint is not moving enough or moving too much.  It’s through investigating the joints that we unlock the reasons for the knock knees, and then re-train the root cause rather than focusing on the knee.

We love working with people with knock knees.  There is great potential for changing the movement pattern of the knee!

Do you have a knock-knee issue??  Want to know what you can do for yourself??

We can teach you about why your knees found this angle and the reasons behind it.

Our Osteopaths are AiM (Anatomy in Motion) practitioners, looking at the whole joint system of the body to find out what the root cause of joint dysfunction, like the knee.  It’s only when someone asks about your entire history that the reasons become clear.

Call today on 9859 5059 or book online below.

Related Information

7 Responses
  1. Sam Biondo

    Hi Tristan,
    Loved the read about knock knees, I believe mine have corrected themselves thankfully.

    Sam Biondo

    1. admin

      Hi. It’s about learning how to move other joints in your body so your knees don’t have to move this way. You could try and find an Anatomy in Motion Practitioner to guide you. If there is no one nearby you could buy Gary Ward’s “Wake your Feet up” and/or “Wake you body up” and follow his program. It is inexpensive at 10GBP for the course and no time limit to explore it. Hope this helps you.

  2. Felisa Kat

    How about genetics? My husband and his sibling have knock knees, I believe their father had them too, and now possibly our child. Non of them have had hip issues

    1. katie

      Hi Felisa. Unless there is a structural bone change in the genetics which would be confirmed via X-ray, then it’s not genetics. There is something called mirror neurons, which is how we learn when we are small, we watch our carers and copy them. We see this with families with bunions also. As youngsters they learnt to move by watching. But what if they were watching someone who had a mechanically challenged movement pattern, as in “knock-knees”? They would learn how to move with knock-knees. Hope that makes sense to you. 🙂

  3. Tyrone

    Hey specialist people I have this and didn’t realise till now I would like help with this as I have realised it looks weird and so my sister has told me as well that I should see and talk to a specialist in this sort of situation please get back to me as soon as possible

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