Can Shoes Improve Your Child’s Low Muscle Tone? – What a Difference Shoes Can Make!
If your child has been diagnosed with low muscle tone, don’t panic. This condition is more common than you think. I have helped several children with low muscle tone find the correct pair of shoes for their feet, and I am confident that I will be able to help your child as well. In this resource, I am going to show you a list of the best shoes to help improve your child’s foot posture, walking gait, and stability.
What Is Low Muscle Tone?
The medical term is Hypotonia, but most parents know this condition as low muscle tone. This condition is simply a lack of tone in muscles, which can make your children’s muscles feel too relaxed.
Even though low muscle tone is a common condition, it shouldn’t be left untreated. In fact, if left untreated, low muscle tone can lead to permanent fatigue while walking and increasingly stiff leg muscles, as there are common complaints in children, adolescents, and adults who have retained persistent foot pronation. Another common issue seen in children with low muscle tone is the development of bunions.
I have noticed throughout the years how many children with low muscle tone have flat feet, and children with flat feet have poor balance and coordination.
Low Muscle Tone is Not Weakness!
I want to clarify a common misconception about low muscle tone. Several families associate low muscle tone with children being weak. This is far from the truth, low muscle tone is a stability problem, not a strength problem. Your child can be incredibly strong and still have low muscle tone.
Children with low muscle tone have ligaments that are too loose (hypermobility) and don’t hold the joint in proper alignment when it moves. You usually notice the heel tilting inwards and a collapsed arch. Once the feet are pronated, the knees and hips also become misaligned. This means the muscles that move those joints no longer work efficiently, and it will take more energy for your child to do the same work as other children who don’t have this condition.
I work for a specialized children’s shoe store where we help children with foot conditions such as flat feet, weak ankles, and low muscle tone, among many others.
Many physical and occupational therapists refer families of children with low muscle tone to the shoe store that I work for to be fitted for supportive shoes and orthotics. Some other medical professionals advise families to wait until the child reaches a certain age.
Physical therapy is a great place to start, but I have noticed how the correct type of shoes and in certain cases orthotics, are some of the most effective ways to treat low muscle tone. Certain shoe styles might guide your children’s feet into proper alignment and provide an instant boost to your child’s stability and confidence.
Pro Tip: If you’re pressed for time here is a list of shoes to help improve your child’s foot posture, walking gait, and stability.
Don’t Play the Waiting Game – Be Proactive!
Parents come to the store telling me that their pediatricians recommended waiting until the child reaches the age of 5 to intervene, but the parents are still worried as the child has clearly signs of poor alignment and is developing poor posture habits already.
By age five, children have to optimize their functioning foot-joint alignment and weight-load distribution by wearing supportive shoes or orthotics (depending on the degree of their foot condition).
So why not take early action? All I recommend doing is giving the child structural support which is not going to take away from the musculature. We are not making the muscles weak. Why wait until age five if the misalignment may become more severe?
Pediatricians shouldn’t play the waiting game with these children. We don’t want to create permanent deformities.
I always explain to parents that it’s not a matter of age. It’s a matter of whether or not we can improve the child’s walking gait and overall posture. I have seen many, many kids stand up and walk straighter—even run for the first time—after being fitted with the correct pair of shoes. In some cases, an orthotic might need to be fitted inside the shoes, but it all starts with a pair of supportive shoes.
I have helped hundreds of children with low muscle tone walk and run straighter, and I can help yours too.
Can Shoes Improve Your Child’s Low Muscle Tone?
If your child gets diagnosed with low muscle tone, why wait and let the condition get worse? When children have low muscle tone, their walking gait, alignment and overall posture are not going to improve without help.
Let’s take a look how the feet of a child with low muscle tone look like. Do you notice the child’s feet collapsing and turning inwards? The ankles are also rolling in, which is shifting the whole body out of alignment.
Let me show you what happens when we fit that same child in a pair of supportive shoes that I recommend. Do you notice how straighter the feet are? What a difference a shoe can make!
Low Muscle Tone Is Not A Phase!
Don’t expect low muscle tone to simply go away one day. It’s not something kids outgrow, no matter how much they exercise. Muscle tone doesn’t really change. That’s why it’s important you get help, the sooner the better. Without it, your child will continue to fall behind and develop bad habits.
I always recommend parents be proactive and don’t take the “wait and see approach” that a lot of medical professionals seem to recommend. Waiting for your child’s condition to resolve on its own is only going to lead to your child’s condition getting worse.
What Makes the Shoes I Recommend Effective for Low Muscle Tone?
There are 3 key features that the shoes I recommend provide that are going to help treat and prevent your child’s feet from collapsing.
1️⃣ Substantial Outsoles: This feature helps align your kids’ feet properly by providing a stable base for your child’s feet.
This feature also minimizes the impact that your child’s feet take when they come in contact with the ground and helps prevent your child’s feet from collapsing and turning inwards. Let me show you the difference between a shoe that provides a substantial outsole versus one that doesn’t:
2️⃣ Firm Heel Counters: This is the back part of the shoes that provides ankle and heel support. The firmer the heel counter is, the better. Always press on the heel counter of the shoes before buying shoes for your child. Let me show you the difference between a shoe that provides a firm heel counter versus one that doesn’t:
3️⃣ Lightweight and Flexible: While the shoes need to be supportive, they need to be lightweight and flexible at the same time. This feature helps prevent your kids’ feet and legs from easily getting tired. Your kids’ shoes should always bend at the ball of the foot but no further.
4️⃣ Straight Lasts: Shoes with straight lasts will help keep your child’s feet in the correct position. Always try to avoid shoes with excessively curved lasts:
In addition to providing these 4 features, the shoes must fit the unique shape of your child’s feet perfectly. Children’s feet come in all shapes and sizes, and some children might have narrow feet while others might have wide feet. The shoes I recommend are available in different widths so please make sure that you choose your child’s foot width accordingly.
Are You 100% Sure of Your Child’s Foot Size?
If you don’t know your child’s foot size you won’t be able to order the correct shoe size for your child. Let’s start by checking if you don’t have a good-fitting children’s shoe store in your area. I created a resource that describes the best-fitting children’s shoe stores by state:
If after looking at that resource you still can’t seem to find a store in your area, then you can take a look at a different article I wrote where I describe the simplest, yet most effective way to figure out your child’s exact foot size from home:
Best Shoes for Kids with Low Muscle Tone
The shoes I recommend are available in medium (M), wide (W), and extra wide (XW) widths. Disclosure: Some links in this post may be affiliate links and we may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) when you click our links and make purchases. This allows us to create free content and resources for many families around the world.
I recommend shoes that come with shoelaces instead of velcro closure as shoelaces provide better support and stability than velcro shoes. Always make sure that you are tying your kids’ shoes comfortably tight. I understand that for most families it’s hard to keep up with untied shoelaces, but trust me when I tell you that they make a big difference in helping and improving your child’s stability.
Are Any Other Shoe Choices Available?
Without a doubt, children’s shoe needs can vary depending on their age, activity level, and any specific foot conditions they may have. If you have any questions or need any further assistance, you can also contact us via e-mail and we will get back to you as soon as possible. We are happy to help you find a different pair of shoes for your child so don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.
Additional Resources for Children with Low Muscle Tone
I created an additional resource that describes the best sandals for children with low muscle tone.
Families Testimonials – Get Inspired!
Keep in mind that in certain cases the child might need an orthotic to be fitted inside of the shoe for extra support and stability.
I always recommend to start by trying a pair of supportive shoes and monitoring how the child walks in them. If after wearing the shoes for 3 to 5 months you don’t see any improvement, then I recommend fitting an orthotic inside of the shoes.
The Best Orthotics for Kids with Low Muscle Tone
The orthotics I recommend for children with low muscle tone are the least restrictive ones as they allow for the normal movement of the foot. One of the main reasons why this orthotic works so efficiently for children with low muscle tone is that it provides a deep heel cup (30mm to be more precise) that provides stability and improves the child’s walking gait.
The orthotic below is the best prefabricated on the market for helping treat and control low muscle tone. One of the main goals of this orthotic is to prevent your child’s balance be affected by their low muscle tone.
This orthotic can be fitted in most shoes including school shoes, sports shoes and dress shoes. I explain in further detail all of the benefits that this orthotic provides in a different resource.
Has your child been diagnosed with low muscle tone? Have you found a good pair of shoes and orthotics that has helped your child walk and run straighter? Please let us know in the comments section below so other families can benefit from your experiences.
“Low Muscle Tone And Your Child – What You Need To Know.” Surestep, 1 Dec. 2016, surestep.net/blog/low-muscle-tone-hypotonia-an-overview-for-parents/.
“Muscle Weakness (Hypotonia): Boston Children’s Hospital.” Boston Children’s Hospital,www.childrenshospital.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions/m/muscle-weakness-hypotonia.