Short version: My knees point in when my feet point straight. This makes it hurt when I run.

I'm currently 16. In 9th grade, I switched out of my public school to an independent study one. It's like home schooling, but I meet with a teacher once a week for assignments and do everything myself. It was half way through the year that I switched. I had been running in PE that year and never had any problems. I had finished PE, so it wasn't until a while later when I started running for my own health and not for school. I stretched properly and started off small, but my knees hurt when I stopped running. For a month or two I built up to three miles of slow jogging, but my knees would still hurt.

I started looking online and read something about crows feet, or a similarly named condition. Basically, my feet and knees aren't aligned properly. If my feet point forward, my knees point inward and will touch if I bend them. If my knees point forward, my feet point out. I hadn't noticed this before, but I wasn't looking either, so I don't know how long my legs have been like that.

I talked briefly with a friend of the family who also happens to be a personal trainer. He said that my thighs were a bit weak and showed me an exercise where I sit against a wall and have to strain my muscles to keep myself up. He also said to ice my knees, as there's probably swelling. I did both for two months and saw no change, so I switched to squats. I did those for a while and still didn't notice anything.

Does anyone know anything about this? What can I do?

  • 3
    Have you met a doctor/orthopedic about this? Did you ever made a complete physical check? I am not a doctor, but maybe meeting one can give you another solution.
    – Saariko
    Nov 27, 2011 at 12:34
  • Agree with the above. See an orthopedic, discuss the problem and see if physical therapy is an option. If you have weak thighs you want someone who understand HOW they are weak and WHY. A PT can show you how to ensure the proper muscles are as string as they need to be. They'll also ensure you don't do something that inhibits the good things about the form you currently have.
    – ngramsky
    Nov 28, 2011 at 5:06

2 Answers 2


I have the exact same condition. When I was really young I always "knelt" with my bum on the floor and my legs out to the sides (rather than underneath me). Over the years this contorted my legs and knees. A doctor told my mother I might not be able to run at all. Ever since, when my knees are parallel pointing forward, my feet angle outwards at probably 35 degrees.

I wear down my shoes unevenly, due to this angle in my feet. I always hating running (especially on hard surfaces) due to the knee pain and shin splints.

Then I heard about "barefoot/minimal" running and decided to try it. Taking away the cushy and impact-deadening sneakers forced me to listen to my body and my legs and feet did what came naturally. I have no more pain in my knees or shins even when I run more than 5K. My feet still point outwards, but I've developed a more natural gait that fits my body, as a result of listening to my body. I run all the time in my vibrams, and actually enjoy running on asphalt now!

  • I had looked into the five fingers/barefoot type running and figured that it wouldn't help much as I'd either be running with my knees pointing inward or my feet angled out, either one putting undue stress on my joints. I suppose I'll give them a try though before giving up running altogether. Do you run on the sidewalk, or go to a local park or something?
    – mowwwalker
    Feb 8, 2012 at 5:31
  • @somatic How much running did you do and how long did it take for you to develop a more natural gait?
    – user241
    Feb 8, 2012 at 13:44
  • @MattChan, I was only running 1-3 miles. I'm unsure what you mean by the second part. I wasn't able to align my knees and feet while running, but I had been keeping my feet pointing forward, meaning that my knees would be pointing inward.
    – mowwwalker
    Feb 9, 2012 at 20:51
  • @Walkerneo I read over your sentence a little quickly there, but I was asking how long it took you to adapt to your barefoot/minimal running until you stopped feeling pain in your knees as you said.
    – user241
    Feb 10, 2012 at 11:48
  • When you run barefoot, your gait changes immediately, because it's too painful to run like you normally do in shoes. The amazing thing is, your body naturally knows what to do, and with the added sensory input from your feet, automatically (in order to avoid discomfort) changes your gait. You're basically springing off the balls of your feet the whole time. Expect to be rather slow at first. I just ran around the block, on the sidewalk or in the middle of the street. You can start out completely barefoot on a treadmill to see how it changes your gait.
    – somatic
    Feb 10, 2012 at 20:06

Before seeing a doctor, self diagnosing always makes things look worse than they may be. I would suggest you go to a specialist running store, with trained staff. Ask the running clubs in your area for a recommendation.

I experienced problems with my feet whenever running longer than 5km. The staff at the running store looked at my gait running on their short track and recommended a different set of shoes. First run out with the new shoes I did 12km without any pain.

Properly trained staff would also suggest you visit a doctor should things look wrong to them.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.