For the first two years, your child’s feet will seem to have fallen arches.
Flat feet are normal in a young child due to weak muscle tone in the foot, a generous padding of fat, and loose ankle ligaments that permit the foot to lean inwards.
As your child masters walking, the ligaments and muscles will strengthen and the fat pads in the arch area won’t be so noticeable.
A functional flat foot is quite common and can result in symptoms ranging from sore or tired feet to general leg fatigue and body aches and pain. There is a positive correlation between flat feet and symptoms involving foot pain, leg pain, knee pain, hip pain and lower back pain.
Excessive pronation (feet ‘ rolling’ inwards) causes the arch to collapse and elongate, giving the foot an appearance of being ‘flat’.
By 5-7 years of age, your child should have normal arches in both feet.
Controlling excessive pronation, with orthotics (custom-made shoe inserts) prevents the feet ‘rolling’ inwards during walking. This prevents ‘unlocking’ of the 33 joints in the feet, which is often the cause of painful symptoms in the pes planus (flat) foot type.
In-toeing is a common lower limb problem in which the feet point inwards, towards the midline of the body.
It does not become apparent until the child begins to walk at about 12 – 18 months of age. Many toddlers walk ‘pigeon-toed’, with either one or both feet turned inwards. In most cases, this is simply a sign of developing posture and balance, and should resolve by itself (without the need for medical intervention) somewhere between the ages of three and five years.
However, if the in-toeing is severe, seems to involve the leg and hip as well as the foot, or isn’t improving by the time your child is around one and a half to two years of age, see your podiatrist for assessment. Excessive in-toeing may be caused by a variety of underlying difficulties, such as hip joint problems.
Out-Toeing means that the feet curve outwards instead of pointing straight. The problem is often caused by an over-rotation in the hip or leg.
Exercises sometimes help with the problem if treatment begins at an early age but as always with this problem see your podiatrist for assessment.
Knock-knees are normal in children aged from two to seven years. Some children may become knock kneed again around puberty. If the problem has persisted from the age of seven, it may be permanent. Like bow legs this leg position may cause the foot to roll or may place strain on the knee joint. Using orthoses to straighten the foot can help straighten the leg but this may be a long-term treatment. If pain in the feet or knees occurs orthoses can be useful to relieve symptoms.
Bow legs are normal at birth but should disappear by the time the child reaches two. If it does not disappear by the age of two then it may be permanent.
The bowed appearance may be caused by a curve in the leg bone ‘tibia’ or may involve the entire limb. This curve may cause the foot to roll or may place extra strain on the knee joint.
The bow itself is not correctable but if pain occurs in the knees or feet orthoses may be useful to relieve any symptoms.
Simple Guidelines To Avoid Children’s Foot Disorders
- Don’t restrict a baby’s development with tight bedclothes, booties, socks or blankets. This allows them to kick and exercise their feet and legs.
- Discourage poor sleeping and sitting positions (ie. sleeping on stomach, sitting on the knees with feet pointing back & turned out – the “W” position). Sitting with legs crossed is preferred.
- Baby & toddler walking frames place stress on bones and muscles prematurely. Babies will begin to walk through natural development, usually between 9 – 18 months.
- Babies are bow legged up to 2 years old, then go through a knock kneed stage which can last up to 7 years of age.
- When you child begins to walk, look for signs of abnormalities in structure
Always see our podiatrists if you are concerned about your child’s feet or gait.
We are trained in the management and prevention of foot problems and can identify the factors, both intrinsic & extrinsic to the feet, which might be the cause of pain.
Give our friendly team a call on (02) 96732987,
call in to our clinics at St Marys or Penrith or find us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/podiatristsydney