Flat Feet In Children. What You Need To Know.
It is a common concern we hear from parents visiting Little Treads, that their baby or toddler appears to have flat feet, adding even more stress and guilt to the parenting juggle. We are here to put your mind at ease, to arm you with expert advice on flat feet in children.
We took parent concerns to Mitchell Brown, a podiatrist at Queensland Foot Centres. Mitchell provides further insight into children's feet, particularly surrounding flat feet. Perhaps your child may not appear to have a defined arch, or maybe they are experiencing pain. Perhaps you're unsure what type of supportive shoes to buy your child or when to visit a podiatrist. Whatever your concern may be, consider this the start of your flat feet fact-finding.
What are Flat Feet?
Podiatrist Mitchell Brown of Queensland Foot Centres describes a flat foot as a foot that ranges anywhere from a normal arch, down to a completely flat arch that touches the ground. At Little Treads, we see many children during shoe fittings that have flat feet. It is completely normal for a child under the age of 6 to have flat feet, as the bones, muscles and tendons are still maturing during this period.
What Causes Flat Feet in Children?
Genetics play a big part in a child's development of flat feet. A parent having flat feet significantly increases the chances of their child also developing flat feet.
Although the stronger influence comes from Mum and Dad's feet, footwear and in-shoe support called orthotics can also somewhat influence your child's arch height. This influence is because soft tissue and bone can adapt to any position it is held in over time.
Shoe recommendations and characteristics vary depending on the developmental stage of your child. In younger children who are still beginning to walk, their shoes should be a thin interface between their feet and the ground. This thin interface encourages proprioceptive and neurological development whereby the body wants feedback from the ground so the brain can form body position awareness, learn how to combat different types of terrain, and grow stronger.
Once your child is walking more confidently, introducing a more structured shoe is a good idea. At this point, a child will start to build good strength and improved abilities related to running and jumping. It also marks an excellent time to introduce structured footwear while keeping an eye on your child's feet, knees, and hips.
From the age of five, a child's foot will have all the bones they will need as an adult. From the age of five is a good time to introduce shoes with even more structure and support. Features to look for in shoes at this age include a stiff outsole, a firm heel cup and suitable fastenings.
When to visit a podiatrist
Although having flat feet is completely normal at a young age and most children don't need treatment, it is important to seek a podiatrist's advice where symptoms are apparent.
For flat feet in children, symptoms can include:
- One of your child's feet is flatter than the other
- Your child is experiencing pain
- Your child is unable to partake in regular physical activity
- Your child trips often
It's crucial that you seek advice and possible treatment from a qualified podiatrist if you have concerns. A podiatrist can recommend shoes specific to your child's requirements or prescribe orthotics for flat feet in children. Children should wear orthotics with good quality, supportive shoes.
Thanks to Mitchell Brown from Queensland Foot Centres for the expert information and guidance concerning flat feet in children.