flat feet in children

Flat Feet in Children – A Podiatrist’s Review

About 70% of parents who have come in to see me with their children have been worried about their child having flat feet.
As a podiatrist, it’s my job to make sure that your child is walking their way into adulthood in the best way possible. So of course I will also share the best treatment methods and why they work well.
Let me run you through if and when you should treat flat feet.

What is a flat foot?

The term flat foot is used to describe the lack of arch in the foot. When a child has flat feet, the foot has little to no arch.

Resulting in a foot that is unable to function at its peak and a cause of many potential problems in later years.

Due to this, the knees and ankles take the brunt of the impact, causing a great deal of discomfort and pain.

It is often easier to treat flat feet than to treat the symptoms, as the flat feet will improve when the foot is corrected.

Symptoms your child may have if your child has flat feet:

  1. Pain in their feet or legs when walking or running
  2. Tripping over more than normal
  3. Reluctant to participate in activities
  4. Becomes tired quickly
It is important to note that flat feet without any other symptoms are not a reason to worry.
However, if your child has flat feet and any of the above symptoms then it is time to seek treatment.

What Causes flat feet in Children?

The two most common causes of flat feet in children are a genetic disposition and hyper flexibility.

Some children are simply predisposed to having flat feet, or even low-arched feet. 

It is also well known that children have higher flexibility ranges than adults.

While a majority of children have hyperflexible joints in their young years until their bones fully develop and harden.

Especially in areas of the body where there are lots of joint spaces (for example the hands and the feet).

This means their feet have to take on the pressures of their body weight and if they are hyper-flexible alongside this fact, then, this is the reason why children are more prone to having flat feet.

Your child’s growth milestones will create a noticeable change in their walking pattern between the ages of 2 and 8. Their hips will influence their walking pattern while the hip socket forms.

Milestones in Your Child’s Gait

18 months – 2 years old

When your child begins to walk at roughly the ages of 18 months to 2 years old you may notice that your child walks with their toes pointed outwards. This style of walking may continue up until your child is about 4 years old.

 4 – 6 years old

Their hip development again tries to neutralise and at this point, you may notice your child starts to in-toe (also known as pigeon toeing). At this stage of your child’s growth, in-toeing is expected and is normal.

6 – 8 years old

From the age of 6 to 8 years old your child’s hips will come to the point where they will stay into adulthood. At this stage, your child’s feet should start pointing straight ahead and the arches in their feet will develop to the genetically predisposed to height.
Meaning, that genetics play a large part in whether or not a child is flat-footed.

When to see a Podiatrist about your child's flat feet?

Parents are naturally worried about their child’s growth and with growth comes worrying about flat feet.

We’ve gone through when it’s normal for your child to have flattened arches and now let’s go through the signs it’s time to see a podiatrist.

 Although it can be normal for your child to have flat feet there are still exceptions to this rule.

The most important signs to look out for are the  following:

  1.  Your child is complaining of pain or discomfort
  2. If they are tripping over more than usual
  3. If one foot is not moving the same as the other. 

So if both feet don’t move the same way AND there is associated discomfort, THEN it’s time to see a Podiatrist. 

The Best Treatment For Flat feet in Children

The best treatment for flat feet is orthotics.
Orthotics work like braces work for teeth.
They work for your feet like braces work for your teeth. After a child gets their braces removed they need to wear a retainer to keep their jaw and teeth aligned right?
If they don’t then their teeth go back to their original position.
This is because the gums allow for movement. In the same way, the feet have too many joints to keep in place so we need to use an orthotic to work as a retainer does.
Orthotics are custom-made inserts that are placed in your child’s shoes to change the way your child’s feet function.

Orthotics are the best way to correct flat feet and prevent any future problems.

The way orthotics correct flat feet is by changing the way your child’s feet are aligned while your child is wearing the inserts.
By aligning the arches and ankle joints of your child’s feet, the kinetic chain up the body will be better able to withstand the body weight pressure on their feet.
Avoiding the arch to collapse excessively on the nerves and blood vessels under their feet which often results in pain.
Unisoles Online Custom Orthotics

Our Unisoles Podiatrists make the process of treating your child as easy as ever before.

Book your complimentary online appointment and our Podiatrist will analyse your child via online consultation.

If you’re worried about your child, don’t put it off. Speak with a Podiatrist now by clicking here


You’ll never need to pay too much for custom orthotics ever again