When children begin walking they stand with a wide stance usually with some bowing of their legs. This position is where the knees are apart and the ankles are together (Figure 2). At this stage children’s feet are often flat in appearance. They later develop into a more knock-kneed position (figure 3). By age 7-8 years this tends to improve, (Figure 1)
Bow legs is the term used to describe outward curving of the legs. Most children have some bowing of the legs when they start to walk. It is
common from birth and usually straightens by itself by the time the child reaches 3 years old. This bend in the leg often causes children to walk with their feet turned in (in-toeing). The medical term for the position at the knees when the lower legs are bowed is Genu Varum.
The term knock knees describes a large distance between the ankles when the knees are touching. Up to three-quarters of children between the ages of three and five have knock knees. This posture normally corrects by the age of eight but can continue into adulthood, especially if there is family history. The medical term for this knee position is Genu Valgum.
Bow legs and knock knees occur because of the way that the thigh bone (femur) and the shin bone (tibia) relate to each other. This varies for
each child and is a normal part of their development. As a child grows, their body goes through a natural shift where their legs gradually change shape and become straight. Long term outcome Most children with knock knees or bow legs do not require treatment and these self-correct with time. Exercises, splints or shoe inserts have been proven not to help with the natural development and outcome of bow legs and knock knees in young children.
Most children with knock knees or bow legs do not require treatment and these self-correct with time. Exercises, splints or shoe inserts have been proven not to help with the natural development and outcome of bow legs and knock knees in young children.