If you’ve got kids, you know: all you want to do is keep them safe. And to give them everything they need to grow up and live out their dreams, whether they hope to become an astronaut, a doctor or just a happy, fulfilled individual with a connected family and plenty of friends. You never want them to have to compromise, lose confidence, or have social problems.
At this point, you may be asking: why am I reading about all this on a podiatry blog? Well, as it turns out, your child’s feet have the potential to take away their future dreams, including their social well-being and even their confidence. How could that be, you may be asking? Just keep reading to find out!
Typical Foot Development in Children
When born, babies’ feet look flat due to the presence of a fat pad that lies in their arches. This fat pad has a very important job: it provides nutrients to children’s growing feet. Now, typically, this fat pad will disappear by the time your child turns two, allowing an arch to appear. If, however, your child’s foot still looks flat after turning two, it’s quite likely that he or she will have flat feet for life. So, let’s take a look at what else might develop if your child’s feet stay flat, and you don’t intervene.
How Flat Feet Impact Your Child’s Development
The effects of poor foot structure and flat feet goes way beyond worrying about your child looking different. Flat feet make the muscles around your ankles and within your feet less effective; this means they fatigue at a faster rate than people with arched feet. At three or four, most little kids won't come out and tell you that their feet hurt, or that their feet are tired. Instead, you may notice that your child always wants to be held or carried.
As the years pass, if those flat feet still aren’t treated, your child will not be as strong a runner or an athlete as his or her arch-footed friends. She or he may avoid sports, or other play-time activities, due to lack of ability to keep up. Your child’s confidence may even suffer, and he or she may develop a stooped posture or a tendency to avid social interactions with peers. And this stooping might not even be a choice: it’s actually more difficult for a child to stand confidently and with proper posture if his or her feet are sore or tired.
While that takes us through childhood issues, let’s keep looking forward and see how flat feet affect your children once they’re all grown up. As adults, flat feet make you more vulnerable to deformities that can creep up, causing more pain and more need for interventions. The chronic muscle imbalances caused by flat feet can be connected to bunions, arthritis, tendinitis, ankle pain, plantar fasciitis, hammertoes and even an increased risk of swollen legs (with flat feet, your calf muscle doesn't contract as effectively to pump excess fluid back to the heart).
If we’ve scared you with this post, that’s actually a good thing. Because, here’s the deal: this domino effect of foot problems is all preventable! We can help manage flat feet with a variety of interventions.
Diagnosing and Treating Flat Feet
Want to know one of the easiest ways to keep flat feet from impacting your child? Get her fitted for custom orthotics. While not cheap, proving your son or daughter with the additional support of these medical devices can help stave off the pain and fatigue they’d otherwise experience.
And if you’re not sure whether you need to be worried about kids’ arches, do some sole-searching of your own (Get it?) That’s right: foot problems are often hereditary. So, if you’ve been told that you or your spouse have flat feet (or if you’re just now figuring out that fact), chances are, it’s something your children may deal with eventually…unless, of course, you address this problem early! If you are concerned about your child's flat feet, make an appointment today for an evaluation. (And we’ll be happy to check out your feet as well. We’ve diagnosed many parents’ foot conditions while exploring why their children’s feet are hurting!) Just breathe deeply and remember: we have simple tools to get your child on the right track to a healthy and foot pain-free life!