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Exercise with Bow Legs or Knock Knees

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Updated February 09, 2004

If you have bow legs or knock knees you may be at higher risk for injuries during high-impact exercise such as running or aerobics. Knees that are significantly angled (either in or out) can put added strain on the joints of the hips, knees, lower legs, ankles, and feet. Typically, a runner who has knock knees will pronate (the ankles and feet roll inward too much). A bow legged runner is more likely to supinate (the ankles and feet roll out).

To check yourself, stand in front of a mirror with your feet hip-width apart. If your kneecaps are not aligned with the center of your feet and turn inward, you have some degree of knock knee. If they are not aligned with the center of your knee, but turn outward, you may be bow legged.

If you have knock knees or bow legs and do high-impact activities such as running, you might be a good candidate for an orthotic. A visit to orthopedic physician or a physical therapist may help you identify a need for special inserts or a modified exercise program. If you have lower leg pain, you could try cycling or swimming as an alternative form of exercise.

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