Podiatrists are urging parents to take big steps for their children’s feet as part of National Foot Health Month, to help Aussie kids grow up living an active and pain-free life.
Australia’s largest podiatry group, My FootDr podiatry centres, has this month released new research revealing 81% of parents have never taken their child to visit a Podiatrist.
A staggering 61% of their children (aged up to 17 years) had also not had their feet professionally measured within the last 12 months, despite many parents purchasing as many as three or four different pairs of shoes each year.
My FootDr co-founder and CEO Darren Stewart said his organisation is driving awareness around the importance of healthy feet among children during October.
“Children’s feet and legs develop rapidly, and it can be difficult for parents to know what is and isn’t normal. Yet how they develop impacts on the child’s ability to live happy, healthy and active lives,” he says.
“Conditions ranging from delayed walking, tippy-toeing, flat feet and bowed legs, pigeon toeing and clumsiness, ingrown toenails and plantar warts are common in childhood.
“Parents need to better understand how to properly care for their child’s feet, including who to turn to for professional advice. Podiatrist can treat and prevent these conditions to avoid lifestyle-limiting issues later in life.”
Mr Stewart says footwear choice is an important factor in children’s foot health.
“On average children spend more than 1,000 hours a year in their school shoes, not to mention wearing different shoes for different sports and extra-curricular activities,” he says.
“Whether you’re buying $10 shoes or $100 shoes, they should offer the right support and enough growing room for feet to develop naturally.
“Inappropriate, poorly-fitted shoes may affect the long-term development of feet and cause problems with pain, balance and posture.”
He encourages parents to adopt a preventative and wellness approach to foot health, much like they do with dental health.
“We recommend children visit a Podiatrist before they start school and undergo a check-up at least annually, or more frequently if they experience foot pain or other symptoms,” Mr Stewart says.
“We take a detailed history, perform a physical assessment, use video walking analysis and 3D foot scans to discover any issues and develop a treatment and management program.”
“Prescription custom-made foot orthotics (shoe inserts), are a common treatment prescribed for children to support and align the natural shape of the foot and ankle, and improve overall posture and foot function.”
Mr Stewart said that many families were unaware that podiatry is covered by many Private Health Insurers in their extras policy. Another misconception was that a referral was required to see a podiatrist. “In most cases, you don’t need a referral from your doctor to see a podiatrist, you can simply book an appointment direct.”
My FootDr’s 5 Big Tips for Healthy Little Feet
Screen your child early for immediate detection of common problems
Stomp out problems immediately if pain or symptoms persist
Choose the right footwear for active, growing feet
Wear custom shoe orthotics prescribed by a Podiatrist
Commit to an annual check-up
About the survey
The research was commissioned by one of Australia’s leading podiatry groups, My FootDr. The survey, undertaken by Pureprofile, included 600 respondents from across Australia with children aged up to 17 years of age.