Flat feet: Help! What do I do if my child has flat feet?

Flat Feet:  What are flat feet?

Don’t panic! Flat feet in children (especially babies) are often a normal occurrence.  If you’re worried then you’re not alone, this would have to be the main concern we hear from most parents when they bring their children in for a Podiatry assessment, so we thought it’d be a great blog topic for discussion.

Is flat feet in children normal or abnormal?  The answer is yes and no! It all depends on the age of your child and if their feet are causing them pain or mobility issues.

Flat feet is normal in nearly all infants and many young children. This occurs because children’s bones and joints are flexible and young babies also have a fat pad on the inner borders of their feet that hides the developing arch. You often can still see the arch if you lift your baby up on the tips of the toes, but it disappears when they stand normally. The foot may also turn out, increasing the weight on the inner side and making it appear even more flat. 

 

Flat Feet:  Flexible vs Rigid Flat Feet

Most children develop an arch when standing by around age 6 as their feet develop and become less flexible. 

Most adults with flat feet have no long-term problems or pain. There are 2 types of flat feet – flexible and rigid. 

  • Flexible flat feet is when the ligaments that hold the bones together softens, allowing more movement in the joints of the feet.
  • Stiff or rigid flat feet is the opposite and may become problematic and would likely require further investigation and treatment.  

What does this mean for your child?  Put simply, if your child’s feet have freedom of movement and they are not complaining of any pain or have no mobility issues (ie. does not trip over more than normal, can run/walk and keep up with their peers as normal), then treatment may not be required.  

However, about 1 or 2 out of every 10 children will continue to have flat feet into adulthood. For children who do not develop an arch, treatment is not recommended unless the foot is stiff or painful.

 

Flat Feet:  What Are The Treatment Options For Flat Feet?

First and foremost, we need to be clear on one thing.  There are no treatments available that can ‘fix’ flat feet or change the shape of your child’s arch.  At home, the best you can do for your child who has flat feet is to make sure their school shoes and runners are supportive and comfortable.  They should avoid wearing footwear such as thongs or flip flops for lengthy periods of time. Use the pic below as a guide to pick a good pair of shoes for your child.

 

If you’ve tried everything and your child continues to have pain or finds normal activities difficult then seek help from a Podiatrist.  

At The Footcare Clinic, our Podiatrists can help:

✔️ identify the reasons why the pain is there;

✔️ assess and map out a treatment plan, this may include exercises to strengthen weak muscles;

✔️ utilise many treatment options to help ease the pain quickly, such as taping and strapping the feet;

✔️ can determine if shoe inserts (orthotics) are necessary or not

We’re here to help, let us know in the comments if you have any questions.  We look forward to helping you and your family move well and feel great!

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