Having your feet turned out when standing and walking is not OK— but neither is having your feet pointed forward unless you untuck your pelvis first. Most people stand and walk with their feet turned out because of the way the pelvis is habitually tucked. A tucked pelvis forces the thigh bones forward encouraging the legs and feet to rotate externally.
Pointing the feet forward is a fairly standard instruction given to people who need to change their posture and movement patterns. But while feet turned out is not what we want, how we get our feet to point more forward is key. When I first began exploring the idea of teaching people to walk I told my brother who walks in the same feet turned out fashion that I used to favor that he shouldn’t be walking like a duck.
After three weeks of trying to walk parallel he reported back that his knees were bothering him. I am glad it was my brother and not a paying client because I learned a valuable lesson about how to get the feet to move more towards parallel. Feet turned out must turn in because the pelvis moves to a neutral position, internally rotating the leg bones and moving the feet closer to parallel in a natural progression.
Having your feet line up exactly parallel with eachother is not as important as moving towards parallel. When we walk with feet turned out the body’s weight tends to transfer towards the outer leg and outer foot. When the pelvis rotates to a neutral position the top of the femur bone, which is literally a ball that sits in the hip socket, rotates internally and the feet move more naturally towards a parallel position and weight transfers more easily towards the midline of the body allowing our bones to support us and the body to work more efficiently.
It is very important that we understand how and why the body should be aligned. A lot of teachers will tell you to point your feet forward for better posture but the pelvis needs to be aligned correctly for that to happen. All joints in the body are reciprocal in a chain reaction that moves up and down the body. Having your feet turned out is bad form but feet turned in can mess with your joints if other body parts don’t turn as well.
I’ll save the issue of one foot parallel and the other turned out for a future post.