Is your child suffering from foot or leg pain? I have been working at a specialized children’s shoe store for almost 10 years now, and we evaluate children with foot issues on a daily basis. These children are often referred by their pediatrician or physical therapist to be fitted in the right pair of shoes and orthotics. Has your child been diagnosed with flat feet and has been complaining about foot or leg pain? Has he been pronating or toe walking?
If this is the case with your child, then he or she might be a candidate for wearing orthotics. Keep in mind that we all have a certain degree of pronation or supination. However, when pronation or supination becomes excessive, children might start complaining about their feet and legs hurting. How can you tell if your child is pronating excessively?
Make sure your child is standing straight and observe his feet and legs from the back. If your child’s feet lean inward or appear flat, these can be signs that your child is experiencing pronation.
Another way is to look at how the shoes are wearing. The picture below shows a shoe on the left that has been worn by a child that has been pronating, and on the right a shoe that has never been worn (keep in mind that these are the same shoes in the same sizes). Do you notice how the left shoe is caving inwards? That means your child has been pronating!
Let’s take a look at the most common causes of why a child might need orthotics:
- Pronation: this occurs when the arch collapses and the foot rolls inward excessively.
- Supination: this occurs when the foot leans to the outside.
- Sensory and stability issues: these occur among children who have low-muscle tone, tight cords,or severe toe-in.
- Foot pain: this occurs among children that might be experiencing cramping in the foot, leg, and knee.
- Feet and legs feeling tired: this occurs among children who are involved in physical activities.
All of these causes are believed to be genetics or hereditary. Don’t panic! It’s common, and there are things you can do to help your child walk and run straight, and prevent him from having feet, leg or back pain.
Orthotics and good supportive shoes are one of the best solutions to your children’s foot problems. It will always depend on how severe your child might be pronating to figure out whether your child might need orthotics, or just a good supportive shoe.
Has your child been complaining about having pain on the bottom or the top part of his foot? Keep in mind that just because your child is having pain, that doesn’t automatically translates into him needing orthotics.
Our Kids’ Feet Act As Shock Absorbers- Sometimes They Need Help!
Our feet are our body’s first shock absorbers since they help the body by absorbing impact and responding to uneven surfaces. When we are pronating or supinating excessively, the body’s natural shock absorbing capability reduces considerably.
Providing our children with good supportive shoes and orthotics will help them minimize the impact that their feet and legs take every time they impact against the ground!
What Are The Benefits Of Wearing An Orthotic?
- They will provide bio-mechanical balance by redistributing body weight.
- They will not only improve and correct your child’s foot position, but they will also affect the alignment of the ankles, knees, hips, and the low back, because everything is connected together in a bio-mechanical chain.
- They will provide cushioning, support, stability, and/or relief to pressure areas of the foot.
- They will provide relief to those muscles that are over working.
- They will absorb the shock of each step that your child takes rather than passing on these shocks to the leg and spine.
I want to clarify that orthotics will NOT help your child develop an arch. It will provide all the benefits previously mentioned and MOST importantly, reduce or eliminate the foot and leg pain that your child has been experiencing.
There is a certain type of orthotic insert that is easier to fit than most and will provide great arch and heel support for your child. You can find out more about it in this post:
Good Supportive Shoes – Eliminate Your Kids’ Foot Pain!
In the case that your child might need an orthotic, he must be fitted in a good supportive shoe, since the orthotics and the shoes work together. If you decide to invest in an orthotic, and you put it inside a shoe that is too soft or that doesn’t offer enough support, you will be THROWING your MONEY away!
Some parents also come to the store saying that they took their child to their pediatrician and even though the child showed clear signs of pronation and flat feet, the pediatrician told them that the child was fine and was going to outgrow the issue. Do NOT ignore your children’s foot or leg pain! Always get a second opinion!
Making Sure The Orthotics Fit – 4 Steps To Get It Right!
Do you have a children shoe store in your area that you trust? It is extremely hard to fit orthotics and shoes for children if you don’t know what you are doing. I am only here to help parents who do not have a children shoe store in their area that they trust. I believe in supporting local businesses, specially those that hire specialized employees.
By a local shoe store I don’t mean chain stores such as Stride Rite or Nordstrom’s, since they don’t have qualified or experienced employees. I actually wrote a post explaining why you MUST STOP taking your kids’ to be fitted for shoes in those places. The post is called:
If your child has been diagnosed with flat feet and requires orthotics, the next step is to figure out which shoe will fit these orthotics best. Please keep in mind, not all shoes will work with the orthotics! You can follow the guidelines below to make sure the orthotics will fit properly inside your kids’ shoes:
1- It all starts with a shoe that has a removable insole. If the shoe doesn’t have a removable insole, the orthotic WILL NOT fit properly inside the shoe. You can find more information about this step in my post:
2- The second step is to find a shoe with good support and structure. The shoe must have good support and a very firm heel counter in order for your child to get the 100% benefits that the orthotic has to offer. The picture below shows the difference between a shoe with a firm heel counter (first picture) and a shoe with a soft heel counter (second and third picture).
3- The third step is to find a shoe that is going to be deep enough for the orthotic to fit properly inside the shoe. If the orthotic doesn’t fit deep down inside the shoe, it will give your child the impression that his feet are coming out of the shoe every time he walks. Let’s take a look at some pictures below showing the difference of shoe depth between two well-know brands such as New Balance and Nike.
In the Nike shoe we can see how the orthotic is not fitting deep enough, whether in the New Balance shoe the orthotic is sitting much deeper inside the shoe.
4- The shoe must be wide enough for the orthotic. If the shoe is not wide enough, you will end up hurting your kids’ feet. You will notice your child complaining that the shoes are too tight, and you will notice red marks along his small toe. Also, if the shoe is too narrow, the orthotic will end up making a hole through the shoe. Let’s take a look at an example of an orthotic in a shoe that is too narrow.
As you can see in both of these pictures the orthotic is poking out of the shoe. This will create friction between the orthotic and the shoe, which might lead to the shoe falling apart.
Finding The Best Shoes For Orthotic Inserts – Get It Right!
Fitting an orthotic inside a shoe requires a few steps, and even though these might sound like simple steps, it takes knowledge and experience to know which particular shoe will fit the orthotics best. There are certain shoe brands and shoe styles that will definitely work better for orthotics such as New Balance and Saucony. They are our top two selling brands at the shoe store, specially for children who have wide or extra wide feet.
These two brands come in different widths such as medium, wide, and extra wide widths. They also make good quality shoes with excellent support and firm heel counters.
At the kids’shoe store that I work for, I handle approximately 200 pair of fitting and try-ons per week. That is a lot of shoes folks! I know which are the best shoes in terms of support, structure, and durability. I also know which shoes are better suited for orthotics inserts.
If you don’t have a children’s shoe store in your area that specializes in shoe fitting and orthotics, below you can find a selection of the best fitting shoes for orthotic insert that also come in medium, wide, and extra wide widths!
The shoes in the first-row fit “short”, which means that you need to go a whole size longer of the size that your child measures in the shoe measuring scale in order to allow for growing room.
The shoes in the second-row fit “true to size”, which means that you need to go a half a size longer of the size that your child measures in the shoe measuring scale in order to allow for growing room.
I also wanted you to know that shoes with laces will provide more benefits than shoes with velcro straps. Shoe laces will provide your child with more stability and support, and it will allow your child to completely secure the heel area of the shoe.
One of the main issues children have with wearing orthotics is the extra space that is found around their heels, since the orthotic are eventually raising your kids feet up, giving your child the impression that his feet are coming out of the shoe. A shoe that comes with shoe laces will allow your child to completely secure his heels in the shoe!
I created a post where I explain the importance and benefits that shoe laces provide when wearing an orthotic. The post is called:
Did you know that with early intervention orthotics can be a short-term solution to your children’s foot problems?
Have you found a particular shoe style that works better with orthotics? Is there a particular type of orthotic/insert that you recommend for kids’? Please share your finds in the comments section below so we can all benefit from your experiences!