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Happy Feet: Understanding and Managing Flat Feet in Children

Welcome to our paediatric physiotherapy blog, where we aim to provide you with valuable insights and guidance on various childhood conditions.

In this article, we’ll be focusing on a common concern among parents – flat feet in children. We’ll discuss what flat feet are, their potential causes, when to seek professional help and how to manage this condition effectively. So, let’s dive in and ensure that your little one’s feet stay happy and healthy!

Understanding Flat Feet

Flat feet, also known as pes planus, is a condition where the arches of the feet appear to be flattened or absent when standing. In newborns and young children, it is often normal to have flat feet due to underdeveloped arches. However, if the condition persists beyond a certain age (approx. four years), is asymmetrical ( one foot affected)  or causes discomfort, it may require attention.

Potential Causes

  • Genetic Factors: Flat feet can be inherited from parents, making it more prevalent in certain families.
  • Ligamentous Laxity: Some children have flexible ligaments, which can contribute to the development of flat feet.
  • Muscular Weakness: Insufficient strength in the muscles supporting the arches can lead to flat feet.
  • Overpronation: Excessive inward rolling of the feet while walking or running can contribute to the development of flat feet.
  • Injury or Trauma: In some cases, a foot or ankle injury can result in the flattening of the arches.
 
When to Seek Professional Help

While many children have flat feet without experiencing any issues, it is essential to be aware of potential signs that may warrant professional assistance:

  • Pain or discomfort in the feet, ankles, or lower limbs
  • Difficulty participating in physical activities or complaining of fatigue
  • Frequent tripping or clumsiness while walking or running
  • Uneven shoe wear or abnormal gait patterns
  • The appearance of an excessively flat arch or an inwardly rotated ankle
 
Managing Flat Feet

Regular Physical Activity: Encourage your child to engage in activities that promote foot and leg strength, such as swimming, cycling, or walking barefoot on different surfaces (e.g., sand, grass).

Supportive Footwear: Ensure your child wears well-fitted shoes with proper arch support, cushioning, and stability. Avoid excessively rigid or flimsy footwear.

Orthotic Inserts: In some cases, orthotic inserts or arch supports may be recommended by a paediatric physiotherapist or podiatrist to provide additional support and promote correct foot alignment.

Stretching and Strengthening Exercises: Your physiotherapist may recommend specific exercises to improve muscle strength, flexibility, and foot posture. These exercises can be fun and engaging for children.

Good Posture Habits: Encourage your child to maintain proper posture while standing, walking, and sitting. This includes avoiding slouching and distributing weight evenly on both feet.

Regular Check-ups: Schedule regular visits with a paediatric physiotherapist to monitor your child’s foot development and address any concerns promptly.

Conclusion:

Remember that every child is unique and the management of flat feet may vary depending on individual circumstances. By staying informed and seeking appropriate professional guidance, you can ensure that your child’s flat feet do not hinder their overall development and enjoyment of physical activities. A paediatric physiotherapist will provide tailored strategies to support your child’s feet and promote their optimal foot health. Stay positive, stay proactive, and keep those little feet moving happily along their journey!

We hope you found these tips helpful! If you have any further questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to our friendly team at Movement Solutions Physiotherapy. Stay tuned for more informative blogs from us. 

Melissa Locke, Consultant Physiotherapist


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