Your child’s feet have to last a lifetime…more than 200,000 kilometers and in the first few months children are likely to walk and run hundreds of kilometers.Children are constantly growing and due to their increased flexibility, symptoms can rage from no discomfort to extreme pain in their feet or lower limbs. Many children suffer from imbalances such as in-toeing and out-toeing but then outgrown them without medical treatment. In-toeing is the more common of the two and can start before they were born with how they were positioned in the uterus. In-toeing can also develop due to the laxity of the ligaments in the hip or knee joint. With these unresolved imbalances, a child may be more susceptible to injuries such as ankle sprains, fractu res, shin splints from fractures or Sever’s disease.
Another common foot problem in children is flat feet or low arches. All toddler’s feet are flat with a fat pad filling the space where the arch will soon develop. The fat pad soon regresses and the normal arch appears. Hence, there is rarely a reason to worry about the arches of a toddler but many children are flat footed and although they are not in pain, they may be damaging their feet if the condition is not corrected. The most common form of flat feet in the older child is the flexible variety. The arch appears normal upon examination when they are not weight bearing. Once they stand up, the arch disappears as the foot rolls down and inward. When this occurs, they may not be able to keep up with other children because of the added strain on feet and legs.
Going barefoot is not only enjoyable for babies, it is actually very healthy for the initial development of young feet by aiding in musculature growth. By allowing the toes freedom to perform their natural “gripping” actions, the feet naturally develop strength and coordination. Of course, going barefoot is not always practical as a child gets older. Their feet need to be covered when walking outside or on rough surfaces. This is when proper footwear becomes very important and at the same time orthotics can be used to maintain proper foot support.
Footwear and orthotics are also important to realign of in-toeing and out-toeing, distribute body weight evenly and accommodate knee and hip problems. Usually orthotics need to be replaced when the child’s foot has grown two sizes and a pair of shoes need to be replaced as the foot grows. The length of time a child needs an orthotic varies considerably depending on the seriousness of the deformity and how soon correction is addressed.
If you suspect your child has a foot problem, you may spare your child future problems later on in life.