Hesperian Health Guides

Chapter 60: Correcting Club Feet

HealthWiki > Disabled Village Children > Chapter 60: Correcting Club Feet

Note: In Chapter 11 we discussed club feet. We suggest you read "Club Feet" before trying to correct a club foot.

Club foot seen from above.
club foot

The younger a child is when you begin, the more easily and quickly her foot can be straightened. For best results, begin 2 days after the baby is born. If the child is over 1 year old, usually a good correction is only possible with surgery. Ways to predict how easy or difficult correction may be for a particular child are listed for "How long will it take?".

Method 1: Strapping

This method works well in a baby with mild to moderate clubbing, especially when the foot can be put into a nearly normal position. The method is easier and cheaper than casting, and sometimes gives better results. You will need:

  • tincture of benzoin (to paint on the skin to help the adhesive felt stick firmly. Zinc oxide in the tincture will help protect the skin.)
  • cotton wool
  • adhesive surgical felt (padding) 8 mm. thick and at least 2.5 cm (1 inch) wide
  • adhesive tape (sticking plaster) or zinc oxide strapping 2.5 cm. wide
1. Paint tincture of benzoin on the skin areas to be covered by the tape. Adult hand  holding the leg and foot of a baby.
2. Hold the baby’s foot like this and gently straighten it as far as you can without forcing.
3. With the knee bent as far as possible, stick strips of felt around the foot and over the knee and leg as shown. Side view of hand holding strips of felt over baby's foot and knee. Front view of hand holding strips of felt on baby's foot and knee.
4. Stretch adhesive tape over the felt. Start on the outer side of the foot, go around the foot, up over the knee, and down the other side. Use the tape to pull the foot into a better position. Using adhesive tape to pull foot upward. Tape coming down leg ends here.
Front view of leg and foot with arrows indicating where to put tape.
no tape here
5. Put a second piece of tape around the leg twice here to hold the first tape. Front view of leg and foot showing how to wrap the tape up and around.

CAUTION! 10 minutes after putting on the tape, check to see if any part of the foot has turned dark. It so, look for the trouble spot and try to adjust the strapping. If it stays dark, take everything off and start again.

Every 2 or 3 days, tighten the correction by stretching new tape over the old, in the same way. On the 7th day, remove everything and leave the leg free until the next day. On the 8th day, apply new felt and tape.

Exercises during strapping

While the baby’s foot is strapped, someone in the family should do stretching exercises on his foot every time he is fed or changed (at least 8 times a day).

1. Hold the baby’s leg like this and turn his whole foot UP and OUT. 2. Turn it as if you were trying to touch the little toe to the outer side of the knee.
Hold and count to 10. Repeat 10 times. The strapping and exercises should be continued until the foot is overcorrected (bends outward a little).
One hand on baby's leg and other on foot with arrows pointing upward movement
Foot facing forward and foot facing the side.
3. If the foot is shaped like a bean, also do an exercise to stretch the foot in the opposite direction of the deformity, like this. 4. After stretching the baby’s foot this way, help the baby to stretch it himself by tickling the outer edge of his foot.
Bean-shaped foot, wrapped bean-shaped foot, hands on both sides with arrows showing how to stretch it.

If the foot is not straightened completely within about 3 months of strapping and exercises, surgery is probably needed.

This page was updated:27 May 2020