You are not a duck!
If there is one postural defect that is most likely to cause you both injury and loss of performance it is the duck footed stance pictured above. And yet, if you observe the general population you will note that a vast number of people, if not the majority, adopt this lazy feet turned out posture. Normally, it will be both feet and sometimes it will be marginal. Sometimes it will be both feet turned out and this can be quite extreme, even amongst elite runners and triathletes.
Why is this so bad? Well, if you stand like that, you will probably walk like that and, worst still, run like that. As you move forward from this position, there will be a tendency for the knees to turn inwards, for the ankles to similarly collapse inwards and for the feet to over-pronate. The more steps you take and the more intensity you apply to your forward movement, the greater the chance of injury, not to mention all the wasted force that will affect your performance. This is the mechanism for many knee and ankle injuries. There is enormous shear created especially through the misaligned knee joint which can create a whole host of problems here; ACL tears etc.
There are many aspects to what causes people to adopt this stance and sometimes it can be difficult to correct and may require a physical therapist’s intervention. However, running off to your local physic should be your last resort. In most cases, we have adopted this posture through poor lifestyle choices; too much sitting down with our feet splayed out (which also causes tight hips, which can be another contributory factor, impacting on the internal rotation we need at the hip to prevent feet from turning out). Also being overweight tends to reinforce this stance as we strive to balance the weight over our feet.
Apart from sitting less and not getting fat, it is also really not that difficult to just be conscious of how you’re standing, walking, running and just keep your feet pointed forward which is the most stable position as it is the position which enables us to generate the most torque through the hips and keep the knees in good alignment. The more you focus on this, the more it will become your default pattern. You may also wish to work on your range of motion in your hips and ankles, as well as strengthening all the major muscle groups of the legs and the gluteals. Work on adopting correct movement patterns first though, focusing heavily on functional movements like squats and lunges and trying to perfect these, not letting your knees wobble or collapse etc.
If you need more detail or would like help with any of this, please do not hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone or text to 07504439555.
Remember, you are a human being and are a natural born runner, whatever you think, not a duck or a platypus!