I truly believe in orthotics since I have seen the positive impact that they have on children’s feet and legs. At the children’s shoe store that I work for we see a great amount of children with foot problems and physical therapists are constantly referring parents to come to the store to have their children fitted for orthotics (in the case that they child might need them) and good supportive shoes. My coworkers and I assess children with foot problems on a daily basis, and based on the pain they might be experiencing, we might recommend a pair of good, supportive shoes, or a pair of shoes with orthotics.
I have been working at a kids’ shoe store for 5 years, and my co-workers and I help children with foot problems on a daily basis. While some of these problems are hereditary, most of the problems could have been prevented by wearing the correct pair of shoes.
What Can Orthotics Do For My Child?
A pair of well fitted orthotics with a pair of well fitted shoes, will allow your child to walk and run straighter. Orthotics are important in realigning your child’s body posture as well as strengthening the muscles, from the leg to the back of the shoulders. They also might be a short-term solution to your child foot problems if early intervention is provided. Keep in mind that in some cases children might need orthotics for a prolonged period of time.
If your child is experiencing leg or foot pain, you must act on it as soon as possible. Pain in our kids’ feet and legs is not normal, and it MUST NOT be ignored. The easy thing to do for parents is to say that they are just growing pains. They might be, but in most cases I can assure you the pain might be coming from the child not wearing the correct pair of shoes.
How Can I Tell If My Child Has Flat Feet?
Take a look at the picture below, it shows a foot with an arch, and a flat footed foot:
You might be asking yourself, why does my child has flat feet? Existing literature points towards flat footedness being hereditary or genetic. I always ask the parents who come with a flatfooted child for fitting if there is family history of flat feet in the family. Over 90 percent of the parents always give affirmative answer “yes”.
Accordingly, I always recommend orthotics for such feet as a short-term measure. However, it is still a challenge to recommend a curative intervention for the flat footedness in children. Therefore, the best way to deal with the flat footedness in our young children is to seek early intervention. This has resulted into flatfooted children only using the orthotics for shorter period of times and not their entire lifespan.
Parents MUST make sure that they buy correctly fitted and supportive shoes for their children. This will lead to their flatfooted children being able to stop wearing the orthotics by their teenage years. However, if there is no early intervention, the flatfooted children will be forced to wear orthotics for a longer period of time. Therefore, parents should be the watchdogs and report cases of flat footedness early enough for corrective intervention.
The anatomists are still not in unanimous agreement as to whether the human foot has one or four arches. I won’t get into too much detail since I want to stay on point with this article, and the only real arch you need to be concerned about is the inner longitudinal arch (this is the one we all know about). The function of this arch is to serve primarily as a shock absorber in standing, walking, running, etc. This is the reason why when children have flatfeet they might suffer from knee, foot or even back pain, since they are lacking the shock-absorption part which should tried to be provided with good supportive shoes or orthotics.
Is Your Child Pronating? – Keep An Eye On The Way He Walks!
Everybody has a certain degree of pronation. Children with severe cases of pronation will show visible signs of their feet turning in and their shoes caving in. They may also have their shoes poorly wearing or curving caving inwards . On the other hand, those with moderate pronation always complain of their legs or feet hurting. At the store I work for, I see children with flatfeet all the time. However, whereas some of the flatfooted children only require correct supportive shoes, several of them need orthotics reinforcement.
When your child is old enough, there is a key and simple question you can ask him or her: Do your knees or feet ever hurt? If the child answers “no”, there is a need to fit them with good supportive sneakers and observe their reaction for about five-six minutes to determine the correct situation. If the child answer that his feet do hurt, you should consider buying a pair of orthotics. It will not only help him walk straighter and relieve the pain, but it will also realign his body, improve his posture, and strengthen his muscles, from the leg to the back of the shoulders.
Learn about what are the best shoes for a child that wear orthotics:
Is Your Child A Toe Walker? – Ask Your Pediatrician
When children first learn how to walk, and you see them “toe walking”, this is somewhat normal, since they are learning how to stay up. After they have learned how to walk, if they are still up on their toes, it might be a sign of muscular issues and you should ask your physical therapist or doctor how to “ground” them. Walking all the time on their toes is not normal and may require certain shoes or even orthotics to help the child achieve a “heel to toe strike”. Firmer, stiffer shoes will help prevent it and STOP them from walking on their toes.
I have fitted several children that were toe-walkers. The key is to find a stiffer shoe that is not flexible and doesn’t bend in the top as much. Less growing room in the shoe will also prevent your child from toe-walking. You also have to compromise in the length of the shoe as well, since if you leave too much growing room in the shoe this will make your child more prone on standing in his toes.
Examples Of Orthotics/Insoles That Will Help Relieve Your Kids’ Foot And Leg Pain
There are two types of orthotics that I have fitted at the kids’ shoe store that I work for. One is made by Cascade (you must take your child to your local children shoe store to have them fitted by a shoe fitter in the case they carry them, since we are one of the few children shoe store in the COUNTRY that carries these orthotics) Those type of orthotics are extremely complex to fit, and you will need the help of a trained professional. The other one is called Superfeet insoles which are much easier to fit, and they work in all different type of shoes.
Superfeet insoles come in all different type of colors, since they all provide different levels of support.The ones I have fitted at work are the two most popular ones which are the blue color ones, which are the ones you child might need for sports, or the green ones, which have more support than the blue ones and are meant for everyday walking/running. These two are the only ones I will be discussing since I do not have experience fitting the other types of Superfeet insoles.
The green super feet will provide your child with maximum support, stability, balance and shock absorption. Better for children or adults who have medium to high arches and suffer from back pain, plantar fasciitis, arch pain, knee pain. I would recommend using this kind of insole with walking/running shoes, work shoes, or hiking boots.
The blue color super feet will fit in lower volume or tight fitting shoes, reason why they work so well in cleats. The arch shape accommodates most foot types while the moderately deep heel cup provides control and comfort.The blue color SuperFeet insole will work better for children or adults who have low to medium arches that cannot tolerate maximum support. Both of these orthotics will have to be trimmed to fit in the cleats or shoes in 70% of the cases.
The main advantage of these insoles is that they are easy to fit, the only thing you need to do is to remove the inner sole of the shoes that your child is wearing, and try inserting the Superfeet inside the shoe. If the Superfeet is too big, trimmed it so it matches the length of the inner sole of the shoe.
If you want to learn more about orthotics or insoles and what shoes come with removable insoles to put a pair of Superfeet inside the shoe you can read a post I wrote called:
I have helped children that were ready to quit soccer because of the pain in their feet, but after wearing these orthotics, the pain was considerably reduced and in certain cases it fully disappeared. Orthotics, indeed, can be life changing, like well-fitted shoes.
It will also be important for you to learn how to tie a shoe that has an orthotic, you can learn about it here:
Below you can find the Superfeeet insoles for the best price at Amazon. These inserts, if worn with the correct pair of shoes will STOP your child foot and leg pain!
Is your child experiencing leg or foot pain? Certainly contact me via e-mail or in the comments section with further questions that I will most likely be able to answer. I will continue to post informative articles penned by me that address important topics such as this one.