If you’re looking at your child’s feet and wondering “is it okay that my child’s feet are so flat?” – you’re definitely not alone! The answer is that it depends on their age and any other symptoms they’re experiencing. Let us explain.
Flat feet in young children
Very young children appear to have less of a visible arch due to the fatty pad beneath their feet. As they grow, especially beyond the age of four, their arch should appear more obvious.
Flat feet in school-aged kids
If your child is attending school and has flat feet, start by asking yourself these questions:
- Are they getting any leg or foot pain?
- Do they complain of tired, achy legs after a long day?
- Are they quickly wearing down the inside of their shoes?
- Are they regularly tripping, falling or having other problems related to the way they walk?
If you answered yes to any of the above, then it is recommended that you take your child to see a podiatrist. While flat feet aren’t necessarily a problem, it is worth determining whether your child’s foot posture is contributing to any pain or problems they are experiencing.
Even though kids are always growing and changing, foot and leg pain is never ‘normal’, and shouldn’t have to be put up with or waited out.
What to look out for with flat feet
The terms flat feet, fallen arches, rolled-in feet, pronated feet or the medical term, pes planus, all describe the condition where more of the arch comes in contact with the ground than is considered normal. Things to look out for include:
- Changes in arch height – sometimes, feet will appear to have an arch when kids are sitting and have their feet up, yet appear to lose some or all of the arch height when standing. We are much more interested in what the feet are doing when standing, as this is when load and pressure are put on the feet, and a risk of injury to the structures of the feet is present
- Rolled-in ankles – if your child’s ankles appear to tip in towards each other when looking from behind, this is called rearfoot pronation. This posture can place stress on the ligaments, tendons and muscles of the feet and legs, especially on the inside of the ankle
- Children often asking to be carried or pushed in the stroller – if your children are hesitant to walk, they may be experiencing foot pain that they are not communicating
- Appearing clumsy or uncoordinated – if you’re regularly noticing these gait abnormalities, it may be related to their foot posture
Contrary to popular belief, children do not necessarily “grow out of” having flat feet. If you have concerns with your child’s feet, legs or walking pattern, bring them in for assessment and treatment earlier rather than later. Remember, their little feet have to walk them throughout their whole life!