Children’s Feet – Flat Feet
What Is Flat Feet?
Flat feet, also known as pronated feet, is where the arch on the inside of the foot is flat or fallen during standing or walking. Parents often say they noticed their child’s ‘ankles falling inwards’, this is usually a sign of flat or pronated feet.
Flat feet occur when the arch on the inside of the foot does not develop properly, and therefore touches or almost touches the ground. It is normal for babies and toddlers appear to have flat feet, this is because the navicular (one of the main bones that ‘collapses’ in a fallen arch), hasn’t fully developed yet. The arch height should be well developed by the ages of four to five years.
What Causes Flat Feet?
Flat feet is caused by loose joint connections in the foot. This in turn makes the bones of the arch ‘collapse’ when standing or walking. The feet may look like they have an arch when sitting or when the big toe is pulled backward but it disappears when weight is placed on it. This common type of flat foot is called a ‘flexible flat foot’. Children who have a stiff or ‘rigid flat foot’ may have more serious problems and should be checked by a specialist children podiatrist as soon as possible.
How Do You Treat Flat Feet?
The treatment of Flat Feet in children is dependent on how much the feet are rolling in and what other joints and muscles are doing in the feet and lower limb. At Barefoot Podiatry, our podiatrists are trained to test and assess (called a Biomechanical Assessment) the muscles and joints of children and will be able to determine what treatment is best for your child.
Treatments can include:
- Stretching and Strengthening exercises
- Orthotics / Arch Supports
- Footwear Advice
- Strapping Techniques
When Should I See A Podiatrist?
Flat feet in children can be the cause of many different problems in the foot and the lower limb. Some problems don’t show up straight away but start to become issues as your child reaches puberty or goes through major growth spurts. Children who are very active or involved in top levels of sport, tend to have more problems sooner due to the stress and strain put on the feet during sport and activity.
At Barefoot Podiatry, we believe that prevention is best, so we recommend getting your children’s feet checked and monitored at a young age especially if you are concerned about their arches.
You should see a podiatrist straight away if:
- Only one foot is flat or one arch rolling in
- If the arches are rigid and flat
- If the arches roll in a lot and don’t seem to be getting better
- If your child trips often
- If your child has poor balance or co-ordination
- If they complain of heel pain, arch pain or knee pain
- If your child has a lot of ankle sprains
If you child is developing bunions (bony bumps or deformity at the big toe joint)
Article by: Kim Thompson BHSc Pod NZ MAPodA AAPSM