Flat feet, also known as pes planus, is a condition where the arch of the foot is flattened and the entire foot makes contact with the ground. This condition is common in children, and in most cases, it is not a cause for concern as the arches usually develop as the child grows. However, if you're concerned about your child's flat feet, here are some steps every parent can take:
Observe your child's feet
If your child has flat feet, you may notice that their arches appear to be flattened or that their feet roll inwards when they walk. This condition is known as overpronation. You may also notice that your child experiences pain or discomfort in their feet or legs, especially after extended periods of standing or walking. It's important to note that some children may have flat feet but experience no pain or discomfort, while others may have pain or discomfort despite having normal arches.
Speak to a podiatrist
A podiatrist is a specialist in foot and ankle health who is trained to diagnose and treat various conditions affecting these areas. They can assess your child's feet and determine the cause of their flat feet. They may also recommend treatment options, such as orthotics or physical therapy, to help alleviate any pain or discomfort.
To schedule an appointment with a podiatrist, you can first speak with your child's paediatrician or family doctor to get a referral. Alternatively, you can search for a podiatrist in your area through online directories or healthcare provider databases.
Encourage foot-strengthening exercises
Certain exercises can help to strengthen the muscles in your child's feet and improve their arches. Some effective foot-strengthening exercises for children with flat feet include toe raises, marble pick-up, toe spread, ankle rotations, and resistance band exercises.
However, it's important to remember that every child is different, and not all exercises will be appropriate for every child. Before starting any new exercise program for your child, it's important to consult with a healthcare provider or physical therapist who can help to develop an individualized program that is safe and effective for your child's unique requirements.
Choose the right shoes
Proper footwear can help to support your child's feet and promote healthy arch development. Look for shoes that have good arch support, a wide toe box, and a firm heel counter. Moreover, it's important to look for shoes that are made of breathable materials to prevent the child's feet from becoming too hot or sweaty, which can cause discomfort or even infections.
Orthotics, which are custom-made shoe inserts, can be an effective treatment option for children with flat feet. Orthotics can provide additional arch support and help to distribute pressure more evenly across the foot, which can help to improve the foot's structure and function. Orthotics can also help to reduce pain and discomfort associated with flat feet, and may even help to improve the child's balance and gait. For children who experience pain or discomfort when walking or standing, or who have severely flat feet that do not improve with other treatment options, orthotics may be a good option to consider.
Flat feet can be a common condition in children but can cause pain or discomfort in some cases. Parents can help by observing their child's feet, consulting with a healthcare provider or podiatrist for diagnosis and treatment options, and considering the use of supportive shoes, foot-strengthening exercises, or orthotics if necessary. With proper care and management, children with flat feet can improve their foot health and overall quality of life.