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Friday, August 1, 2014
Exercises for genu valgum
In genu valgum condition what muscles are tight, which are weak, strong, or too loose? What exercises will help?
As you may know, genu valgum - also referred to as "knock knees" - means that while standing, the knees are close together while the ankles are farther apart; the opposite is true for genu varum or "bowlegs." The idea behind the nonmedical term "knock knees" is that when a person with genu valgum walks, their knees may make contact with - or "knock" against - each other. These knee deformities are not due to muscular imbalances, but rather, either result from
- an altered, unbalanced bone growth pattern - involving the femur (thigh bone), tibia (shin bone), or both - during childhood, or
- asymmetric narrowing of either the outer/lateral (for genu valgum) or the inner/medial (for genu varum) knee joint space due to cartilage thinning and breakdown from arthritic degeneration during adulthood.
However, during sports activities, for example, a person with normal knees may land from a jump incorrectly with their knee in a valgus position, predisposing them to an anterior cruciate ligament injury, for example. In such cases of "dynamic" (as opposed to "static") genu valgum, efforts to strengthen and/or facilitate the hip abductors and external rotators, and to inhibit the hip adductors and internal rotators, may be helpful.
If a person with static genu valgum demonstrates tightness and/or weakness of specific muscle groups, an appropriate therapeutic exercise regimen would be reasonable to undertake if there is pain or some form of functional deficit, but again, exercises would not be expected to result in correction, or reduction in the degree, of a static knee deformity.
Finally, an inner or outer wedge either within the shoe, or incorporated into the shoes' outsoles, may somewhat lessen the degree of genu valgum (for which a medial heel or sole wedge would be considered) or genu varum (for which a lateral heel or sole wedge could be used). If genu valgum is accompanied by a flat foot, an adequate arch support may also be of some benefit.
Brian L Bowyer, MD
Clinical Associate Professor
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University