As a parent, you want the best for your child. You’ve probably heard that children’s shoes are important, and that you need to avoid poorly fitting shoes. You may have also heard competing ideas about if children need additional arch support in their shoes, and when this might happen. Let’s look at when problems requiring arch support tend to develop, and how to know if your child might need more arch support in their shoe.
Flat Feet Can Be Normal
The first thing to understand is that all children are born with feet that appear flat. This has to do with the early anatomy of the foot, which is more cartilage than bone, and has a fat pad where the arch will later be. If your child is less than three years old or so, and appears to have flat feet, you generally do not have to worry at all.
As your child ages, their arch should start to develop and become more obvious as they become more competent walkers. But even kids who are pre-puberty may have flat feet that are not problems, and do not need treatment. In general, doctors worry about flat feet when:
- The foot is stiff, not flexible
- No arch is visible when the child stands on tip toe, or the foot hangs down loose
- The child complains of leg pain, foot pain, or tired leg muscles
- When there is a family history of problematic flat feet.
How Do I Know My Child’s Flat Feet Are A Problem?
If your child is regularly complaining about being tired or their feet hurting after a short period of exercise, it’s time to try to narrow down the cause. Younger children are notoriously bad at explaining where they hurt, so some detective work may be necessary.
Some children also will start to avoid activity rather than complaining about pain. A child that refuses to play with other kids, protests gym class, or avoids physical play, may actually have painful flat feet. After all, it’s not fun to participate in an activity that leaves you in pain!
So simply noticing that your child’s feet flatten out when they stand barefoot is not an immediate indication that they need orthotics for their flat feet. Noticing flat feet, however, is a good sign to talk to your child about how their legs feel and start paying attention to their activity patterns.
When Do Flat Feet Mean Seeing A Doctor?
If you’re concerned about your child’s health, seeing a doctor is of course a good step. Most flat feet, however, do not need treatment, especially if they have been present for years.
If, however, your child’s feet suddenly seem more stiff, flatter than they have been previously, or they refuse to participate in a previously enjoyed activity because of pain, seeing a doctor may make sense. If nothing else, it will put your mind at ease.
But if your child has always had flat feet, and is simply now noting leg pain or tiredness, the next step is generally to find a supportive orthotic for them to wear when playing. We offer a wide variety of orthotics to help your child’s feet be healthy and grow properly. Contact us today to find out which of our offerings is right for your child.