Plantar Plate Gait

This girl has a (healing) plantar plate lesion on the left hand side at the head of the second met. She also has an anatomical short leg on the same side. Her second metatarsal of both feet or longer than the first

A few things I hope you notice about the video:

  • Can you see how she “reaches“ to get to the ground with her left foot?

  • Can you see how her left foot is more inverted that strikes in the right, creating a greater amount of forefoot pronation that needs to be controlled?

  • Can you see how poor her motion control is of her pronation on the left foot with the sudden “crash” at impact?

  • Have you noticed her “crossover“ gait?

Does it make sense that because of her anatomy and running style, that the constant reach, increased forefoot inversion and lack of pronation control (which causes more abduction of the forefoot at toe off); this drives the force to the second metatarsal head which is longer and more prominent and is more than likely what led to her plantar plate lesion in the first place?


  • A 3 mm full length sole lift for the left foot

  • Foot intrinsic strengthening exercises

  • Hip abduction strengthening exercises/drills

  • Moving her more to a “midfoot strike” running gait with toes extended to engage the windlass

Dr Ivo Waerlop, one of The Gait Guys

#plantarplate #gaitanalysis #crossovergait #leglengthdifference #thegaitguys

External tibial torsion and lower back pain

How can external tibial torsion and lower back pain possibly be related? Let’s take a quick look at the anatomy and see how.

knees neutral, note external rotation of the right foot and decreased progression angle

knees neutral, note external rotation of the right foot and decreased progression angle

Remember the external tibial torsion is present if we drop a plumbline from the tibial tuberosity and it passes between the first and second metatarsals or more medially. This increases the progression angle of the foot. This occurs due to “over rotation" of the lower extremity during development, often exceeding the 1.5 degrees per year of external rotation per year up to age 15 or occurring for a longer period of time, up to skeletal maturity. It can be uni or bilateral.

note when the foot is neutral, the knee points inward

note when the foot is neutral, the knee points inward

Often, due to the increased progression angle, people will try to "straighten their feet" (ie, decrees their progression angle) to move forward in the sagittal plane. This places the knees to the inside of the sagittal plane which causes medial knee fall and sometimes increased mid and forefoot pronation. This results in increased medial spin of the thigh bilaterally which increases the lumbar lordosis. Combine this with a sway back or anterior pelvic tilt and you have increased pressure on the lumbar facet joints. The facets are designed to carry approximately 20% of the load put in these circumstances are often called upon to carry the much more. This often results in facet imbrication and lower back pain. You can strengthen the abdomen all you like but if you do not change the attitude of the foot, a will often develop lower back pain, especially when the abs fatigue. Now think about if the deformity is unilateral; this will often cause asymmetrical rotation of the pelvis in a clockwise or counter clockwise direction.

So, what can you do you?

Since external tibial torsion is a "hard deformity", we can influence how the bone grows before skeletal maturity but after that will not change significantly with stretching or exercise.

  • You can teach them to walk with an increase in progression angle (ie “duck footed”). This will often keep the knee in the sagittal plane and can be surprisingly well tolerated

  • You can use a foot leveling orthotic or arch support to bolster the arch and change the mechanics of the foot, causing external rotation of the tibia which will often result in a decrease in progression angle in compensation while still keeping the knee in the sagittal plane

  • You could place a full length varus wedge in the shoe which, by inverting the foot, externally rotates the tibia which the person will often compensates for by decreasing there progression angle to keep the knee and the sagittal plane

Dr Ivo Waerlop, one of The Gait Guys

#tibialtorsion #lowbackpain #LBP #progressionangle

Sometimes it’s OK for “toes in“ squats

We hear from folks and also read on a lot of blogs and articles about whether your toes should be in or out for squats or other types of activities. The real answer is “it depends”.

What it depends on is the patient’s specific anatomy. That means we need to pay attention to knees and hips and things like femoral and tibial torsion‘s. It’s paramount to keep the knees in the sagittal plane, no matter what the lower extremity orientation is.

When somebody has external tibial torsion (i.e. when you drop a plumbline from there to view tuberosity it passes medial to the line between the second and third or second metatarsal) then having your feet and externally rotated position places the knees in sagittal plane. Having the patient go “toes in” with this type of anatomy will cause both knees to for medially and create patellofemoral tracking issues.

Likewise, like the patient in the video, (Yes, I know I say “external tibial torsion“ at the beginning of the video but the patient has internal tibial torsion as you will see from the remainder of the video) when somebody has internal tibial torsion (I.e. when you drop a plumbline from the tibial tuberosity it passes lateral to the second metatarsal or a line between the second and third metatarsal) you would need to point the toes inward to keep the knees in the sagittal plane as demonstrated in the video. You can also see in the video when her feet are placed “toes out“ they fall outside sagittal plane laterally which creates patellofemoral tracking issues like it was in this particular patient.

So, knees in or knees out? It depends…

Dr. Ivo Waerlop, one of The Gait Guys

#internaltibialtorsion #externaltibialtorsion #kneepain #kneesin #kneesout #squats #thegaitguys

Some more really subtle things...How sharp are YOUR eyes?

As I study this video more and more (yep, we just keep looking at things because we are that nerdy and that paranoid that we missed something) I saw at least 3 very subtle findings. 

Watch the video of this right handed physical therapist who had L knee reconstruction (MCL/ACL with hamstring allograft) a few (hundred) times and see what you come up with, then come back and read this. We lie to slow things down and even frame by frame it with the slow motion feature or space bar to stop it. As background to the clinical exam, he has limited hip and knee extension on the left, 4/5 weakness of the quadratus femoris. His popliteus tests strong and 5/5. He has right sided back pain with L sided knee pain at the joint line and just inferior and medial. the treadmill is at a 2% grade at 2 mph.

Notice how he has a pelvic drift to the right during stance phase on that side. Why do you think? Remember, he has had a left sided knee surgery that left him with limited knee extension on that side. This creates a functional short leg on that side (the left), so he needs to get the longer (right) leg around. We don’t always see lateral movement of the pelvis on the longer leg side, but our guess is he is trying to “shorten” the longer leg side; lateral translation in the coronal plane is one strategy to accomplish that.

Now look at the left side. Can you see the subtle hip hike to clear the right leg? How about the small amount of circumduction? Sometimes folks will employ more than one strategy to get around a long leg, but ususally one will predominate, but not in this case. 

Did you catch the abductory twist of the right heel? The longer leg side needs to go through a greater range of motion of ankle dorsiflexion which will store more potential energy in the tricep surae as well as long flexors of the toes, that energy needs to go somewhere!

Now think about step length. It will often be shortened on the shorter leg side. He still needs to move forward the same amount, so he uses the right arm to help propel his center of mass forward. Do you see the increased arm swing? 

And why does he abduct his right arm so much? Where is his center of mass at left foot strike? It is all the way to the right, because of the “short leg”, correct? How can you counterbalance that? Abducting the arm would certainly accomplish that. Why does it go across the body? It is no longer needed to be that lateral during stance phase on the right, but he still needs to use it to propel himself forward with the shortened step length we talked about before. 

Mental gymnastics, running through what runs through our minds and why things may appear the way that they do. A great lesson in knowing what is supposed to happen and when in the gait cycle

Dr Ivo Waerlop, one of The Gait Guys

#kneepain #lowbackpain #gaitanalysis #thegaitguys #visualgaitanalysis

We’ve told you once and we will tell you again…

Folks with femoral retro torsion often experience lower back pain with twisting movements

This left handed hydrology engineer Presented to the office with an acute onset of lower back pain following “swinging a softball bat”. He comments that he always “hit it out of the park“ and hit “five home runs“ in the last game prior to his backs demise.

note the internal tibial torsion. drop a plumbline from the tibial tuberosity. it should pass through the 2nd met or between the 2nd and 3rd met shafts

note the internal tibial torsion. drop a plumbline from the tibial tuberosity. it should pass through the 2nd met or between the 2nd and 3rd met shafts

note the internal tibial torsion. drop a plumbline from the tibial tuberosity. it should pass through the 2nd met or between the 2nd and 3rd met shafts

note the internal tibial torsion. drop a plumbline from the tibial tuberosity. it should pass through the 2nd met or between the 2nd and 3rd met shafts

He presented antalgic with a pelvic shift to the left side, flexion of the lumbar spine with 0° extension and a complete loss of the lumbar lordosis. He could not extend his lumbar spine past 0° and was able to flex approximately 70. Lateral bending was approximately 20° on each side. Neurological exam negative. Physical exam revealed bilateral femoral retro torsion as seen above. Note above the loss of internal rotation at the hips of both legs, thus he has very limited internal rotation of the hips. Femoral retroversion means that the angle of the neck of the femur (also known as the femoral neck angle) is less than 8°, severely limiting internal rotation of the hip and often leading to CAM lesions.

Stand like you’re in a batters box and swing like you’re left handed. What do you notice? As you come through your swing your left hip externally rotates and your right hip must internally rotate. He has no internal rotation of the right hip and on a good day, the lumbar spine has about 5° of rotation with half of that occurring at the lumbosacral junction. Guess what? The facet joints are going to become compressed!

bisect the calcaneus. the line should fall though the 2nd metatarsal or between the 2nd and 3rd met shafts

bisect the calcaneus. the line should fall though the 2nd metatarsal or between the 2nd and 3rd met shafts

bisect the calcaneus. the line should fall though the 2nd metatarsal or between the 2nd and 3rd met shafts

bisect the calcaneus. the line should fall though the 2nd metatarsal or between the 2nd and 3rd met shafts

Now combine that with bilateral 4 foot adductus (see photos above). His foot is already in supination so it is a poor shock observer.

Go back to your “batters box“. Come through your swing left handed. What do you notice? The left foot goes into a greater amount of pronation in the right foot goes into a greater amount of supination. Do you think this is going to help the amount of internal rotation available to the hip?

When folks present with lower back pain due to twisting injuries, make sure to check for femoral torsions. They’re often present with internal tibial torsion, which is also present in this individual.

Remember a while ago we said “things occur in threes”. That goes for congenital abnormalities as well: in this patient: femoral retro torsion, internal tibial torsion and forefoot adductus.

What do we do? Treat locally to reduce inflammation and take steps to try to improve internal rotation of the hips bilaterally as well as having him externally rotate his right foot when he is in the batteries box to allow him to "create" more internal rotation of the right hip.

Dr Ivo Waerlop, one of The Gait Guys

#internalrotation #hipproblem #femoraltorsion #femoralversion #retroversion #retrotorsion #thegaitguys

Right-sided knee pain in a cyclist...due to his hip?

This 54-year-old pilot presented to our office with pain on the outside of his right knee while cycling with his wife who is currently training for the triple bypass. The discomfort comes on later in the ride and is largely lateral. He thought it may be due to a seat position so he raised his seat up but then shortly developed lower back discomfort. Lowered the seat back down and presents to the office today. He is currently on a 54 cm Pierello road bike with a straight top tube.

Physical exam revealed him to have moderately limited internal rotation of the right hip which was approximately 5 degrees external rotation; left side had approximately 5 degrees of internal rotation. There was no significant leg length discrepancy or internal tibial torsion. Musculature, save for the long extensors the toes tests 5/5 and strong. Hip extension is 0 degrees bilaterally 5 flexion approximately 120 degrees with tightness mostly in the iliopsoas and some in the rectus femoris. Knee stability tests are unremarkable. Some patellofemoral discomfort with compression on the right. Palpable tightness in the right IT band.

X-rays revealed degenerative changes at the inferior aspect of the right acetabulum with a small spur an osteophyte formation.

His seat height was set so that at bottom dead center with the seat tube he had a 30 degree bend in his knee. Seat fore and aft position placed the knee over pedal spindle behind central axis of the pedal. His pedal stroke, seen on the video, reveals moderate internal rotation and medial displacement of the knee on the right side.

So what is going on?

It’s all about how folks compensate. This gent has very limited internal rotation of the right hip. Due to the nature of cycling, he is REALLY TRYING to get his 1st MTP down to the pedal to generate power. This is not unusual among cyclists, which is why what you think should be happening in gait does not always transfer over to cycling. in doing so, he MUST rotate SOMETHING forward (in this case his pelvis) medially to create the internal rotation needed. From this scenario, you can see how the posturing would increase knee valve and offer a mechanical advantage to the vastus lateralis, causing patello femoral dysfunction and knee pain.

So we did we do?

  • Moved his seat forward so that a line drawn from between the patella and tibial tuberosity fell through the center axis of the pedal

  • Angled his cleat so that he is able to have a greater progression angle moving forward, bringing his knee more into the sagittal plane

  • Began working on the hip to increase internal rotation working on the gluteus minimus, vastus lateralis and biceps femoris as well as hip capsule and ilio/ischio/pubofemoral ligaments

Dr Ivo Waerlop, one of The Gait Guys

#kneepain #cycling #hipproblem #femoralretrotorsion #thegaitguys #torsion

Have you seen this?

Patterns. That’s what it’s about a lot of times. Dr Allen and I are always looking for patterns or combinations of muscles which work together and seem to cause what appear to be predictable patterns; like a weak anterior compartment and a weak gluteus maximus, or a weak gluteus medius and contralateral quadratus lumborum.

Here is an interesting story and a new combination that at least I have never seen before

I had a 11-year-old right footed soccer player from my son’s soccer team coming to see me with bilateral posterior knee pain which began during a soccer game while he was “playing up” on his older brothers team. He did need to do a lot of jumping as well as cutting. He is generally a midfielder/Forward. Well experienced player and “soccer is his life“.

My initial thoughts were something like a gastroc dysfunction or a Baker’s cyst. On examination, no masses or definitive swelling noted behind either knee. He did have tenderness to moderate degree over the right plantaris and tenderness as well as 4/5 weakness of the left popliteus. There was a loss of long axis extension of the talo crural articulations bilaterally with the loss of lateral bending to the right and left at L2-L3.

If you think about the mechanics of the right footed kicker (and try this while kicking a soccer ball yourself) it would be approximately as follows: left foot would be planted near the ball and the tibia/femur complex would be internally rotating well the foot is pronating and the popliteus would be eccentrically contracting to slow the rotation of the femur and the tibia. The right foot will be coming through and plantarflexion after a push off from the ball of the foot firing the triceps surae and plantaris complexes. He would be “launching“ off of the right foot and landing on his left just prior to the kick, causing a sudden demand on the plantar flexors; with the plantaris being the weak link. As the kicking leg follows through, the femur of the stance phase leg needs to externally rotate (along with the tibia) at a faster rate than the tibia (otherwise you could injure the meniscus) the popliteus would be contracting concentrically. A cleat, because it increases the coefficient of friction with the ground would keep the foot on the ground solidly planted and The burden of stress would go to the muscles which would be extremely routine leg and close chain which would include the semimembranosus/tendinosis  complex as well as the vastus medialis and possibly gracilis and short adductor, along with the popliteus.

I have to say and all of my years of practice I’ve never seen this combination type of injury before involving these two muscles specifically and am wondering if anyone else has seen this?

Dr Ivo Waerlop, one of The Gait Guys

#footproblem #gait #thegaitguys #soccerinjury #bilateralkneepain #popliteus #plantaris

image credit:

image credit:

Sometimes you may need to put the cart before the horse...The knees, the glutes and reverse engineering ?

Footnotes 7 - Black and Red.jpg

We have talked about looking at things “from the bottom” up in the past, so we can understand things like why the vastus medialis is an external rotator in closed chain as are the semi membranosis and tendinosis. Perhaps we need to think more about this traveling proximally, where the knee effects the glutes. We found this paper looking at women with patello femoral problems and gluteal inhibition. Prospective studies have not found gluteal weakness to be a risk factor for patello femoral problems, but perhaps it is the other way around and patello femoral problems are a risk factor for gluteal weakness? It makes sense, especially if you consider the vastus lateralis like we talk about here and here.

“We hypothesize that muscle inhibition is present in the gluteal muscles of females with PFP compared to healthy controls and it is associated with both decreased subjective function and longer duration of symptoms.”

Dr Ivo Waerlop, one of The Gait Guys

Glaviano NRBazett-Jones DMNorte G. Gluteal muscle inhibition: Consequences of patellofemoral pain? Med Hypotheses. 2019 May;126:9-14. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2019.02.046. Epub 2019 Feb 27.

#gait #foot #patellofemoralpain #PFP #quadriceps #thegaitguys #glutes #gluteal muscles

Subtle clues to an LLD?

Leg length discrepancies, whether their functional anatomical, have biomechanical consequences north of the foot. This low back pain patient exhibited 2 signs. Can you tell what they are?

can you see the difference ?

can you see the difference ?

how about now?

how about now?

compare right to left

compare right to left

compare right to left

compare right to left

can you see the difference in the Q angles?

can you see the difference in the Q angles?

Look at the first picture and noticed how the left knee is hyper extended compared to the right. Sometimes we see flexion of this extremity. This is to "functionally shorten" that extremity.

Now look at the Q angles. Can you see how the left QL angle is greater than the right? This usually results from a long-term leg length discrepancy where the body is attempting to compensate by increasing the valgus angle of that knee, effectively shortening the extremity.

Dr Ivo Waerlop, one of The Gait Guys

#subtle #clues #LLD #leglengthdiscrepancy #leglengthinequality #thegaitguys #gaitabnormality

Low Back Pain? Check for Femoral Retrotorsion on the Same Side

note the right sided leg length discrepancy

note the right sided leg length discrepancy

right tibia is anatomically shorter

right tibia is anatomically shorter

more internal rotation available on the left side at the hip. Note the internal tibial torsion as well

more internal rotation available on the left side at the hip. Note the internal tibial torsion as well

very little internal rotation available at the right hip

very little internal rotation available at the right hip

This right handed concrete worker presented to our office with right-sided lower back pain. He was lifting a bag of concrete moving from left to right which she estimates weighing between 60 and 80 pounds. He did this repetitively throughout the day and subsequently developed right sided lower back pain. The pain is in the suprailiac region and is described as dull, achey. Is exacerbated by right rotation and right lateral bending.

His exam found him to have a right sided anatomical leg length discrepancy, tibial left (see above) and femoral retro torsion on the right with no internal rotation of the hip past 0 degrees (see picture of full internal rotation of the right hip and cmpare it with the left); left side had approximately 10 degrees internal rotation. He also has bilateral internal tibial torsion, R > L. Palpation findings revealed tightness in the lumbar multifidus and quadratus lumborum with a loss of lateral bending to the right at L2 through L4 and a loss of flexion about the right sacroiliac joint. Lower extremity reflexes were 2+ with bilateral symmetry; sensation to vibration was intact at the distal phalanges; motor strength was strong and graded as 5/5.

Think about the implications of his right-sided leg length discrepancy first. This places his foot and a relative supinated posture compared to the left. Remember that supination is plantar flexion, inversion and adduction.

His femoral retro torsion on the right limits his internal rotation at the hip. When his foot planted with a diminished progression angle secondary to the internal tibial torsion, and he has to rotate from left to right, very little, if any motion, can occur at the right hip and therefore must occur in the lumbar spine. Remember the lumbar spine has very limited range of motion begin with with most of that occurring at the L5-S1 junction, depending upon its anatomy. Now superimpose a long lever load and rotary force. Back pain!

We instructed him on proper lifting technique and also talked about keeping the shoulders and hips in the same plane when lifting or load. If he does need to lift a load and spin unilateral on his right lower extremity, we asked him to externally rotate the right lower extremity. He was treated with manipulation and neuromuscular acupuncture.

If you have somebody with unilateral lower back pain, think about the implications if they have any femoral torsion or version present

Dr. Ivo Waerlop, one of The Gait Guys.

#lowbackpain #LBP #femoralretrotorsion #femoral #torsion #gait #gaitanalysis #thegaituys

Motion control Shoes + Internal Tibial Torsion = Knee Pain

Thinking about putting a motion control shoe under that foot to control pronation? You had better make sure you make friends with the knee, as it will often (depending on the compensation) be placed OUTSIDE the SAGGITAL PLANE. Like Dr Allen has said many times before , the knee is basically a hinge joint placed between 2 ball and socket joints, and it is usually the one to start grumbling...

Learn more as Dr Ivo Waerlop of The Gait Guys explains in this brief video

#gait #Gaitanalysis #gaitguys #thegaitguys #kneepain #motioncontrolshoes #internaltibialtorsion

1st MTP Pain? The Biomechanics of the Big Toe...

Remember the rockers? We have done a series on this in the past. Remember there are three: heel, ankle and forefoot. We are going to concentrate on the forefoot today.

As a reminder, forefoot rocker occurs at the 1st metatarsal phalangeal joint (big toe knuckle) as the tibia progresses over the forefoot during forward movement. You NEED 50 degrees to do this competently; you SHOULD have 65 degrees. When you don’t, you have a condition called hallux limitus. This could be from a number of reasons, from overpronation in the mid foot, to a bunion, to faulty firing patterns of the muscles which help to descend the 1st ray (the extensor hallucinations brevis, the peroneus longs and the short flexors off the toes). Pretty much, ANYTHING that causes a dorsal and posterior shift of the 1st MTP axis will cause limited forefoot rocker.

So, the question is, “Do you know where 1st 1st MTP pain may be coming from? How familiar are you with the mechanics of that joint?”

Take a few minutes to review it in this video with Dr Ivo Waerlop of The Gait Guys.

#gait, #gaitanalysis, #1stmtp, #forefootrocker, #thegaitguys,

An often overlooked culprit...In hip and hamstring insertional pain

The "Deep 6". In order from proximal to distal; the piriformis, obturator internus, gemelli superior, obturator externus, gemelli inferior and quadratus femoris. They are primarily external rotators but have a small footprint and act primarily as stabilizers. Here is what we think and what we have to say about them...

Dr Ivo Waerlop, one of The Gait Guys

#deepsix, #gait, #thegaitguys, #hipexternalrotators, #hipstabilizers, #running

The Mighty Multifidus

The multifidi are important proprioceptive sentinels for the low back, as well as the rest of the body, for virtually every activity you do weight bearing, including gait. They are implicated in many instances of low back pain, especially folks with flexion or extension intolerance, since their fiber orientation and thus mechanical advantage (or disadvantage) is dependent upon whether or not you are maintaining a normal lumbar lordosis.

Modalities which boost their function are an excellent adjunct to the rehabilitation process. Since they are not under volitional control (go ahead, try and contract your L2/L3 multifidus), they are innervated by the vestibulospinal tract and we must use proprioceptive work to engage them. Dry Needling is one modality that can help them to become functional again.


"Significant difference was found in the percentage of change of muscle activation post needling between groups on the right side at level L4-5. A slight increase in the percentage of muscle activity, post procedure was observed in the dry needling group compared with the control group, although not significant in other segments examined. An improvement of back muscle function following dry needling procedure in healthy individuals was found. This implies that dry needling might stimulate motor nerve fibers and as such increase muscle activity."

see also our post here:

Dr Ivo Waerlop, one of The Gait Guys

J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2015 Sep 6. [Epub ahead of print] The immediate effect of dry needling on multifidus muscles' function in healthy individuals. Dar G1,2, Hicks GE3.

#gait, #gaitanalysis, #multifidus, #lowbackpain, #proprioception,#thegaitguys

Do you know your Torsions? If so, then you here is what you need to know about twisted people...

Are you twisted? Are your patients/clients twisted? You know about tibial torsions from yesterday but do you know about femoral torsions?

To go along with yesterdays post, here is some more info on femoral torsions. If you missed it, click here

The degree of version is the angle between an imaginary line drawn through the condyles of the femur and an imaginary line drawn through the head and neck of the femur. This is often referred to as the femoral neck angle or FNA.

IMAGE SOURCE: Michael T Cibulka; Determination and Significance of Femoral Neck Anteversion,  Physical Therapy , Volume 84, Issue 6, 1 June 2004, Pages 550–558,

IMAGE SOURCE: Michael T Cibulka; Determination and Significance of Femoral Neck Anteversion, Physical Therapy, Volume 84, Issue 6, 1 June 2004, Pages 550–558,

Beginning about the 3rd month of embryological development (Lanz and Mayet 1953) the femoral neck angle reaches 60 degrees and decreases, with growth, to about 40 degrees (with an average of 30-60 degrees) at birth. It then decreases 25-30 degrees by adulthood to 8-20 degrees with males being at the lower and females at the upper end of the range.

The FNA angle, therefore, diminishes about 1.5 degrees a year until about 15 years of age. Femoral neck anteversion angle is typically symmetrical from the left side to the right side.

What causes torsion in the first place? By the sixth month in utero, the lumbar spine and hips of the fetus are fully flexed, so perhaps it is positional. Other sources say it coincides with the degree of osteogenesis. There is a growing consensus that muscular forces are responsible, particularly the iliopsoas or possibly the medial and lateral hip rotators.

Additional changes can occur after birth, particularly with sitting postures. “W” sitting or “cross legged” sitting have been associated with altering the available range of motion and thus the FNA, with the range increased in the direction the hip was held in; W sitting causing increased internal rotation and antetorsion and cross legged causing external rotation and retro torsion.

image source: T Michaud, with permission

image source: T Michaud, with permission

As discussed previously, there are at least 3 reasons we need to understand torsions and versions, They can alter the progression angle of gait, they usually affect the available ranges of motion of the limb and they can alter the coronal plane orientation of the limb.

  1. fermoral torsions often alter the progression angle of gait. In femoral antetorsion torsion, the knees often face inward, resulting in an intoed gait and a decreased progression angle of the foot. This can be differentiated from internal tibial torsion (ITT) by looking at the tibia and studying the position of the tibial tuberosity with respect to the foot, particularly the 2nd metatarsal. In ITT, the foot points inward while the tibial tuberosity points straight ahead. In an individual with no torsion, the tibial tuberosity lines up with the 2nd metatarsal. If the tibial tuerosity and 2nd met are lined up, and the knees still point inward, the individual probably has femoral ante torsion. Remember that a decreased progression angle is often associated with a decreased step width whereas an increased angle is often associated with an increased step width.

  2. Femoral torsions affect available ranges of motion of the limb. We remember that the thigh leg needs to internally rotate the requisite 4-6 degrees from initial contact to midstance (most folks have 40 degrees) If it is already fully internally rotated (as it may be with femoral retro torsion), that range of motion must be created or compensated for elsewhere. This, much like internal tibial torsion, can result in external rotation of the affected lower limb to create the range of motion needed.

  • Femoral retro torsion results in less internal rotation of the limb, and increased external rotation.

  • Femoral ante torsion results in less external rotation of the limb, and increased internal rotation.

          3. femoral torsions usually do not effect the coronal plane orientation of the lower limb,      since the “spin” is in the transverse or horizontal plane.

The take home message here about femoral torsions is that no matter what the cause:

  • FNA values that exist one to two standard deviations outside the range are considered “torsions”

  • Decreased values (ie, less than 8 degrees) are called “retro torsion” and increased values (greater than 20 degrees) are called “ante torsion”

  • Retro torsion causes a limitation of available internal rotation of the hip and an increase in external rotation

  • Ante torsion causes an increase in available internal rotation of the hip and decrease in external rotation

  • Femoral ante torsion will be perpetuated by “W” sitting (sitting on knees with the feet outside the thighs, promoting internal rotation of the femur)

  • Femoral antetorsion will be perpetuated by sitting cross legged, which forces the thigh into external rotation.

Michael T Cibulka; Determination and Significance of Femoral Neck Anteversion, Physical Therapy, Volume 84, Issue 6, 1 June 2004, Pages 550–558,

Souza AD, Ankolekar VH, Padmashali S, Das A, Souza A, Hosapatna M. Femoral Neck Anteversion and Neck Shaft Angles: Determination and their Clinical Implications in Fetuses of Different Gestational Ages. Malays Orthop J. 2015;9(2):33-36.

Why is that joint range of motion absent? Here are some thoughts.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Is this how you think ? It is how we approach puzzles. . . .

Said client has a loss of internal hip rotation (pick any joint for that matter). . . . .

-is the loss of rotation present because they cannot get the rotation range because there is weakness of the internal rotators . . .

- or perhaps external rotators more dominant, combined with the weakness of the internal rotators

-or, is the loss there because of neuro-protective shortness/tightness because the brain feels that the said internal rotation is a vulnerable range (pain, instability), a range where it cannot protect the joint ?

-or, is it a combination of the above? (not to dismiss other processes of course, such as pelvis, knee or foot mechanical issues, OA, pain etc).

If one does not examine a client, how are they supposed to know this all important information?

*What shows up on a functional screen is merely what they are capable of doing/ recruiting/ engaging. It does not tell you why, nor narrow down the causal possibilities. Hence, driving more internal rotation range is silly, driving more strength into the internal rotator is likewise silly. And, merely adding global strength just might provide the overall presentation with more armor, a better coping strategy. Hence, strength first is not always a brilliant solution.

IF all you have is a hammer, everything is going to look like a nail, or you'll at least treat everything like a simple nail.

Asymmetry seems to matter with pathology.

image credit:

image credit:

When you have low back pain, your gait is apt to be asymmetrical

...And that is just what this study showed. It looked at 82 right leg dominant folks with slightly less than 1/2 of them havong low back pain. The folks with lower back pain spent more time on their non dominant leg at the beginning of a gait cycle and on their dominant leg at the end of it. Not surprising that they wanted to find a more stable base or center their COP over the weight bearing foot, especially in light to the fact that the back has such poor cortical representation.

Sung PS, Danial P. A Kinematic Symmetry Index of Gait Patterns Between Older Adults With and Without Low Back Pain. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2017 Dec 1;42(23):E1350-E1356. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0000000000002161.

Shoe causing knee pain? You decide… 


This gentleman presented with left-sided knee pain at the medial collateral ligament. His left foot was planted when he rotated to the left. Take a close look at the shoes in the picture. If you look closely, you will notice the right shoe is tilted on its axis due to a rear foot to forefoot deformity (forefoot supinatus)and the left shoe upper was assembled canted on its axis, Most likely in manufacturing defect. Can you see the subtle valgus in the left shoe rearfoot?

Think of the implications of a shoe with this orientation. Putting the rearfoot in valgus “prepronates“ the foot, causing medial rotation of the tibia and femur and increase valgus stress on the knee, stressing the medial collateral ligament and stabilizing complex. This will most likely manifest itself as anterior rotation of the ilium on the left-hand side with relative posterior rotation on the right and a clockwise Pelvic distortion pattern. With the foot planted on the left side and it being pre-pronated, can you see how the rotation to the left leaves a greater amount of external rotation that must occur to just get the foot to neutral, never mind supination for stability and pushoff?
What about the popliteus having to work on time to assist and extra rotation and the appropriate femoral/tibial rotation ratios to spare the medial meniscus?

These are the kind of things to keep us awake at night…

And why does this guy have hip pain?

line up the center of the heel counters with the outsoles, and what do you see?

line up the center of the heel counters with the outsoles, and what do you see?

can you see how the heel counter is centered on the outsole, like it is supposed to be

can you see how the heel counter is centered on the outsole, like it is supposed to be

notice how the heel counter of the shoe is canted medially on the outsole of the shoe, creating a varus cant

notice how the heel counter of the shoe is canted medially on the outsole of the shoe, creating a varus cant

Take a guy with lower back and left sided sub patellar pain that also has a left anatomically short leg (tibial) and bilateral internal tibial torsion and put him in these baby’s to play pickleball and you have a prescription for disaster.

Folks with an LLD generally (soft rule here) have a tendency to supinate more on the short leg side (in an attempt to make the limb longer) and pronate more on the longer leg side (to make the limb shorter). Supination causes external rotation of the lower limb (remember, we are trying to make the foot into a rigid lever in a “normal” gait cycle). this external rotation with rotate the knee externally (laterally). Folks with internal tibial torsion usually rotate their limb externally to give them a better progression angle (of the foot) so they don’t trip and fall from having their feet pointing inward. This ALSO moves the knee into external rotation (laterally), often moving it OUTSIDE the saggital plane. In this case, the knee, because of the difference in leg length AND internal tibial torsion AND the varus cant of the shoe, has his knee WAY OUTSIDE the saggital plane, causing faulty patellar tracking and LBP.

Moral of the story? When people present with a problem ALWAYS TAKE TIME TO LOOK AT THEIR SHOES!