Foot Health: Don’t let children get caught flatfooted; arch collapse can cause problems | The Podiatrist and yourfeetnz
As you look at your children running around, it is the ideal time to focus on their foot health and well-being. Remember, it’s not normal to have pain in your feet, especially for a child.
One of the most common foot structures that can cause problems for children is flat foot, also known as pes planus. This is a condition in which there is abnormal collapse of the arch when standing. This causes excessive strain on the soft tissues and joints of the foot and ankle, which in turn, can cause pain and affect the way in which your child is able to function over time.
It is also common to have children complain of knee pain due to their abnormal foot structure, as you can imagine, if your foundation (your feet) is not functioning correctly then that affects the joints up the chain (your knees, hips, lower back).
Here are some early signs of flat feet:
1.Is your child 5 yrs or older? Any younger than this it is normal to have a flattened arch. It is around age 5 that you should start to see an arch form
2.When you look at the back of your child’s heels as they stand, do the heels tend to angle outward, with bowing of the Achilles tendon?
3.Does your child complain of foot, knee or ankle pain during or after activity? Or wake up in the middle of the night with these complaints?
4. Does your child tend to have early leg fatigue or seem to be clumsy with activity?
5. Do you, the parents, have flat feet? If so, there’s a good chance that your child will too since foot structure
is mostly hereditary.
Most parents want the best for their kids and will do what they can to ensure their child’s health and success. However, it’s not always on parent’s minds that if your child’s feet are functioning abnormally, their ability to perform in sports and play outside with their friends can be hindered, and even cause pain.
What should parents do if they suspect their child has flat feet?
It is recommended to have your child evaluated early, even before age 5 if the parents have flat feet. The earlier that your child’s feet are treated, the better the outcome is for improvement in their overall structure over time.
One of the most conservative and effective means of treatment for paediatric flatfoot is custom orthotic therapy. This is done by taking a mould of your child’s foot in what the corrected position should be and from this mould we can make an insert (orthotic) that will fit inside your child’s shoes to wear on a daily basis to keep their feet in the corrected position. The earlier we can start this correction, the greater the improvement in the structure of the feet we can make.
By doing this we can help keep your child active and happy. So remember, if you’re going shoe shopping – take a look at your child’s feet BEFORE you hit the stores. A visit to The Podiatrist may be in order. Some shoes are better than others for flat feet and knowing what to look for will save you time and money.
For all your foot care needs, visit The Podiatrist
You may have foot pain from growths such as plantar warts, corns or calluses. Your foot pain may also stem from wearing ill-fitting shoes or from standing on your feet all day. Fortunately, foot pain relief can be achieved at home.
Buy shoes that fit. Always try on shoes before you purchase them. If the shoe is too tight across the toe box, it will be very unpleasant to wear and will make foot pain worse. Ill-fitting shoes also cause blisters or corns on your feet. You may want to get your feet measured each time you try on shoes, as some brands fit differently than others. Your feet swell as the day goes on, so it is usually best to wait until the evening to try on and purchase shoes.
Choose shoes based on activity. If you are going for a run, wear sneakers designed for running, not walking. You use your feet differently based on what type of exercise you perform. The shoes you wear need to be designed for that activity.
Support your arches. Different people have different shapes of foot arch. For example, you may have a low arch or be flat footed. That means your entire foot touches the ground when you stand. A high arch is the opposite of flat feet. Only your heels and toes have contact with the ground.
Both types of arches need support if they cause you pain. Wear inserts in your shoes that are designed for your arch type.
Massage your feet. At the end of the day, give your feet a massage to help calm tired muscles and reduce stress and tension in your feet. Take a seat in a comfortable chair and prop one foot up on the knee of your opposite leg. Rub the foot gently. Try stretching your toes by pulling on them individually with your fingers.
Prop your feet up. Rest your feet after a long day. Sit down and elevate your feet at a 45 degree angle. Elevating your feet will help the blood flow away from them and will reduce swelling and tenderness.
Kick chronic foot pain to the curb with any one of these simple remedies. With the right shoes and some relaxation, foot pain relief can be at your doorstep.
See The Podiatrist if you have any problems.
WALKING is a milestone in every child’s life, and often parents take it into a bragging right, comparing their child’s walking timeline to other kids’. In their minds, the earlier their child takes those tentative first steps, the better parents they are.
Between the ages of 12 and 18 months, children start to take their first steps. Every child is different, and the only way to go about it is to let them take the lead.
Another thing that parents need to be aware of is proper footwear for kids.
When children can walk steadily (around 18 months old), they should wear “healthy” shoes with mild arch support.
When buying shoes for kids, parents need to reserve one finger’s spacing (i.e. 8-10mm). Most parents have a tendency to buy shoes that are way bigger than their child’s feet, in the hope that the child will grow into them. As kids’ feet grow fast, it is also one way of reducing the need to replace the shoes every six months. Lee says this should never be done.
Do not buy shoes that are too large. Excessive rubbing against the shoes when walking will lead to callus. Besides, since there is too much space between the shoes and their feet, children will try to hold onto their shoes with toes and this will lead to claw toes in the long term.
There are areas of concern that parents should pay attention to when considering footwear for their child.
Flatfoot is a common one, where the foot arch is flattened or fallen when standing, without the normal curve that it should have.
People with a flatfoot become tired and feel the pain easily when they walk. For serious cases, it will affect their knee joints and backbones.
Flatfoot is inborn or genetically linked in most people.
> Children below the age of four: There is a thick layer of fat beneath their feet covering the foot arch, which makes them look as if they have flatfoot. It can’t be determined yet if they really have flatfoot or not, until the layer of fat disappears gradually. Normally, the foot arch develops its shape between four and six years old.
> Children between four and 13 years old: Starting from the age of four, the layer of fat beneath their feet reduces steadily. Before the age of 14, their bones are still in developmental stage. So children with flatfoot could still be treated by using suitable arch inserts and going for regular exercises and a balanced diet to avoid getting fat. There is still room for improvement and it is possible to prevent long-term problems reccurring.
> Children aged above 14: Their bones mature after the age of 14. Although at this stage flatfoot is difficult to improve, it is still necessary to use suitable arch inserts and to do regular exercises to minimise long-term problems (caused by flatfoot).
When choosing the right shoes
> Some mothers believe they should look for shoes with arches for children under two. This can, in fact, interfere with their ability to walk.
> Each child has a unique walking pattern, but more than 40% of mothers do not realize this. Most would put their kids in hand-me-down shoes, especially from older siblings or cousins. This should not be encouraged.
Shoes worn by one child over a period of time would be worn in places depending on the walking pattern. When you put the same shoes on another child, who has a different walking pattern, the support and fit would be off. The child would be trying to form to the gait of another child.
> For the best fit, children’s feet need to be measured every two to three months until the age of two as foot growth is rapid during the first two years. After that, have regular checks every four to six months.
> Bones are not fully formed in a child’s foot until age five, therefore the cartilage can be easily influenced by ill-fitting footwear. It should also be noted that the feet grow right into your late teens, therefore your child’s 10th pair of shoes is just as important as the first one.
> Babies’ feet perspire two times more than adults’, so you should always look for breathable material like leather and mesh or anti-microbial linings.
They should opt for footwear with a hard heel counter, mild arch support and different sizes of toe box that are suitable for forefeet fat and thin.
For professional advice or help with a problem, see The Podiatrist.