Children’s feet are different to that of adults. When they are young, their bones are still very soft and are therefore more easily affected by abnormal pressure and forces. It is important to nurture our children’s feet as most of the issues we see in adults have stemmed from issues as children. The younger a child is assessed and diagnosed, the easier it is to treat and manage the issue.
Foot and lower limb issues in children
- Flat feet/fallen arches/rolled-in feet
- In-toeing (pigeon toed)
- Walking on tip-toes
- Slow to begin walking
- Leg length difference
- Clumsiness or poor balance
- Growing pains
- Low muscle tone
- Oddly shaped toes (curly/clawed)
- Ingrown toe nails
- Bunions or other deformities
One of the most important milestones in your child’s life is their first steps. All children develop at their own pace and will all commence walking at different ages. Most children will take their first steps between nine and twelve months. For some children, this may take a little longer. If at 15-16 months your child is not yet walking, it is recommended they are assessed.
When your child begins to walk, they will generally hold their arms high and their feet out wide for balance. As his/her balance improved, their feet should gradually close in and their arms should drop to their side. Children may develop abnormal walking patterns such as in-toeing (pigeon toed) or out-toeing and in some cases tip-toe walking. If you begin to notice an abnormal pattern, have your child’s feet assessed by a podiatrist. Many adult foot and lower limb issues begin in childhood and are therefore more easily managed if they are addressed sooner rather than later.
When children first begin to walk, for most children it is recommended that they are kept barefoot for the first 6-8 weeks. This allows for their important sensory system which aids in balance and movement coordination to develop. Shoes however should be worn for protection of the feet when outside the home.
How to fit children’s shoes
Children’s shoes need to be fitted with standard growing room in both width and length to allow young feet to fully relax and develop throughout the life of the shoes.
When fitting your child’s shoe our expert shoe fitters will check a number of factors including:
· Lacing gap – Leaving room to flex and move
· Arch – Keep foot supported
· Width – Make sure there’s enough room
· Depth – Check that it’s adequate
· Heel grip – Ensure there’s no slip
Make sure not to forget to check the size of their socks for appropriate fit regularly. Children’s socks tend to be forgotten about however wearing socks which are too small can apply excess pressure to the toes and may cause them to claw.
At Balance Podiatry we understand the importance of your child’s foot health; whether they’re on the playground or on the sports field. Our team of podiatrists and expert shoe fitters will make getting the perfect fit easy.
Very young children appear to have less of a visible arch due to the fatty pad underneath their feet. As they grow, their arch should appear more obvious.
The term flat feet is used to describe the condition where more of the arch comes in contact with the ground than is considered normal. It may also be termed…
- Fallen arches
- Rolled in feet
- Pes planus
Not all flat feet are considered abnormal and pain is not the only indicator that their flat feet are problematic. Particularly with young children, their perception of pain is very different to that of adults. Things to look out for are…
Change in arch height
- Sometimes feet will appear to have an arch when they are non-weight-bearing and then appear to lose some or all of the arch height when standing.
- This is called functional flat feet.
- This flattening of the arch and change in arch height can damage the soft tissue structures (such as muscles, ligaments and tendons) and allow the bones of the feet to move in directions that they are not designed to do.
Rolled in ankles
Your child’s ankles appear to tip in towards each other when looking from behind. This is call rear foot pronation.
Other signs that there may be issues with your child’s feet or walking pattern are…
- They complain of tired legs
- They ask to be carried or pushed in the stroller
- Reluctant to walk
- They appear clumsy or uncoordinated
- Unwilling to participate in sport
- Unusual wear pattern on their shoes
- Morning stiffness
Contrary to popular belief, children do not “grow out of” having flat feet. In fact, some flat feet, if not managed in childhood can develop into pathological, often painful, flat feet in adults. This is why if you have concerns with your child’s feet, legs or walking pattern, to have them assessed and treated earlier rather than later.
Remember their little feet have to walk them through life.