How to Spot and Treat Flat Feet in Children

April 21, 2016 3 comments
How to Spot and Treat Flat Feet in Children

The human foot is a complex beast, made up of 26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 tendons, muscles and ligaments.

As well as being interesting, these facts highlight how notoriously hard children’s feet can be to diagnose properly. Flat feet are one such problem, which we’ll look at in this post.

Raising the issue of flat feet

Babies are born with a pad of fat where adult arches would be, part of the reason we find them endlessly cute and chubby.

In fact, at birth a baby’s foot contains no fully formed bones. It consists instead of soft, pliable bone, like cartilage. As your child grows, their soft bones ossify and become more and more solid. Gradually the shape of the fully-grown foot will take form.

Flat feet is when there is no developed arch while standing. It’s common in toddlers because they have weak muscle tone in the foot, loads of fat padding and loose ankle ligaments that let the foot lean inwards.

When your child starts walking, these ligaments and muscles strengthen. By the time they’re five, a more prominent medial arch should have developed. Sometimes it keeps forming up until the age of around eight or nine.

Two ways to check if your child has flat feet is to either get them to stand on tiptoe or to dangle their feet in the air from a high chair or table. Both methods allow a curved arch to be seen more prominently. Look out for any sign of curvature.

But please don’t be concerned if your child is flat-footed at this stage of development! Between 3-13% of kids have flat feet. Just keep an eye on it and think about getting some advice should your child start to feel discomfort or pain.

How to buy shoes for flat footed kids

flat foot example in child

Remember that barefoot is best, as long as the environment allows it. Going barefoot helps the muscles and ligaments strengthen with as little interference as possible (a vastly different outlook than the rigid, restrictive shoes from yesteryear).

When it comes to shoes, it’s so important to give kids room to grow, because badly-fitted or poorly-designed shoes can adversely affect your child’s feet. For example, large gaps between young bones can be bent out of shape without children even noticing or feeling pain.

Try to avoid excessively flared or undershot heels, which can cause instability. Instead, choose shoes with flexibility, durability and stable heel counters. Flexibility is so key, especially for toddlers, as best foot health practice is to mimic the freedom of movement as closely as possible (which is why Bobux early stage ranges are more flexible than an acrobat).

Note that while built-in arch support won’t actually make an arch develop, specific lasts like Bobux’s I-Walk allow for the healthy development of a natural arch .

Three footwear advice tips to minimise flat feet

1. Shoes should protect and enhance your child's foot function, not inhibit or restrict their gait. Natural toe shapes, leather uppers, soft & breathable materials and fully-adjustable fastenings help achieve this.
2. Your child’s feet should be measured regularly to ensure the best shoe fit (6 weeks during the first walker phase, 2 months during other phases). Optimal g rowing room should be 10mm for pre-walkers and 14mm for older children.
3. A leading cause of podiatry problems in adulthood is poorly fitting shoes in childhood. Now is the time to ensure kids have healthy feet for life!

bobux kid with natural arch plays

There are plenty of options for kids with flat feet, including our range of shoes that can help their feet develop more healthily, using the latest foot health recommendations.

Naturally, if your child experiences any form of pain, make sure you consult your podiatrist. Otherwise, have a read of another great foot health post about common kids’ foot problems, written by our podiatrist ambassador Anna Beetham.

Posted in: Foot Health
Sam Taylors By Sam Taylors

Social Media Manager at Bobux

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Bencarol Mark July 17, 2017 at 9:19 AM
Amazing Tips!! Thanks, Sam Taylors for sharing this wonderful post with us. These ideas surely help in treating with flat feet in children. It provides great feeling to them.
Julia September 16, 2018 at 1:04 PM
Flat foot is a condition in which the arch of the foot is abnormally flattened down so that the entire sole makes contact with the ground.

The human foot is a very strong and complex anatomical structure, consisting of a total of 26 bones; 33 joints; 42 muscles, and more than 50 tendons and ligaments with other surrounding soft tissues. The foot’s main function is to bear the body weight and allow bipedal locomotion (walking/running).

The bones of the foot are not arranged in a horizontal plane but rather in arches. They allow the feet to bear the weight of the body when standing and act as shock absorbers during movement, i.e., during walking, running, jumping, etc. Generally, flat footed kids are believed to have gait disorders later on in their lives.

Sandra Rosen March 11, 2019 at 6:46 AM
Nice Tips you are shared to buy flat footed shoes for kids. Thanks fo sharing this article.