Bow legs, also known as genu varum, is a condition in which the knees separate widely when the subject stands with feet and ankles together. The most frequent cause is an abnormal angle in the knee joint where your “thigh bone connects to your leg bone”. Common causes of bow legs include Blount’s disease, improperly healed fractures, lead or fluoride poisoning, Rickets and vitamin D deficiency.
Stretching and exercise are the most effective ways to treat bow legs, but nutritional supplements, especially vitamin D, may also be helpful. Focus on exercises that strengthen the muscles that surround your upper thighs (quadriceps) and knees, the hip adductors and stretching and exercise techniques like Yoga and Pilates.
Any exercises involving your knees should be done with care to avoid injury or strain. You will be performing exercises that strengthen the hip adductors, hip external rotators and hip extensors and strengthen the quadriceps including:
1. Bodyweight Squats
Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, with your toes pointed slightly outward. Put your hands on your hips or cross them across your chest. Bend at the knees and slowly lower your body down into a squat. Keep your back straight and head up. Pause briefly at the lowest point and then slowly stand. Do NOT drop into your squat position, slow and controlled without bouncing. You are squatting to strengthen the muscles and tissues surrounding your knee and attempting to re-align the path of your kneecap.
2. Isometric Hip Adductor
The muscles that pull your legs together (add) are often weak in people with bow legs. Use this simple isometric hip adductor exercise any time you are seated. Bring your feet together until they touch, now focus on bringing your ankles and then your knees together. Without using your hands, concentrate on holding your legs together for as long as you possibly can to strengthen these muscles.
3. Side Leg Raise:
This exercise works your hip abductors, the muscles that pull your legs apart or away from your midline (abduct). Lay down on your side, and put one hand in front of you and support your head with the other. In this position, one leg will be on top of the other, keeping the leg straight, slowly raise that top leg as high as you can. Pause briefly at the top and then slowly lower back to the start and repeat. Perform 10-12 reps and then turn over and repeat for the opposite leg.
4. Calf Raises:
To stretch, strengthen and realign your ankles, face a stair step or sturdy platform about 8-10 inches high. Place the ball of one foot on the step and raise your body up on this foot. Slowly go as high as possible, pause and feel the squeeze and then slowly lower your body as you stretch your calf while your heel is lower than your foot. Alternate feet.