Children With Foot Problems – When Their Feet Are Different

Toe Walking Toddlers

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:

Flat Feet Pictures

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.

Flat Footed Children

 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:

Best Shoes For Orthotic Inserts- Don’t Ignore Your Children Feet Or Leg Pain!

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.

Toe Walking Toddlers

 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.

 

Super Feet Insolesuperfeet-shoe-inserts

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: 

Shoes With Removable Insoles For Orthotics – Make Sure You Get The Right Fit

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: 

How To Tie Shoes With Orthotics – Stop Heel Slippage

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!


If you need a pair of shoes to fit these inserts please take a look at an article I wrote where I describe the best fitting shoes for orthotics:

Deep Shoes For Orthotics – The Best Kids’ Shoes For Orthotics

If you ever need a pair of everyday, summer, winter, or sport shoes, you can find them all in the tool I created which will let you filter by the type of shoes you need.

I believe this tool will be extremely valuable to you since it will show you shoes in different widths such as narrow, medium, wide, and extra wide and also tell you exactly how each shoe style is cut (short, long, narrow, or wide).

It will also allow you to filter by the instep of your child’s foot. You can even find shoes that will accommodate an orthotic!

If you are interested in using this tool to find your kids’ shoes you can find it in an article I wrote called:

Find The Best Shoe Style For Your Child’s Unique Feet

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.

STOP BUYING THE WRONG PAIR OF SHOES FOR YOUR CHILDREN.LET’S START TAKING CARE OF THEIR FEET!

I created this webpage to help parents understand the importance that shoes have in healthy foot development and how they can prevent foot problems in the future.Join the rest of the parents who are taking care of their kid’s feet and get my guide for free: 10 Mistakes Parents Must Avoid When Buying Shoes for their Kids.

15 Comments on Children With Foot Problems – When Their Feet Are Different

  1. Hi Juan,

    Very informative article. I was wondering how young is too young to start looking at whether or not your child is flat-footed? My son is coming up on a year and his feet are still really flat and they are pronated. He doesn’t wear shoes often and I see his little ankles always “caving in” when he stands. Is that normal? What age would something like that go away if it’s not a long-term problem?

    Thanks,
    Lori

    • Lori,
      You should consult with a physical therapist to have his feet evaluated. Some of the flatfooted children only require correct supportive shoes, but several of them need orthotics reinforcement. If he is flat footed that is an issue that will not go away. His feet can be given relief by the use of orthotics and other means, but no remedy or cure. However, early intervention is key to avoid future problems. There is a lot of controversy revolving around what age a child should start wearing orthotics. I believe that if they have low tone issues they should start wearing orthotics as early as when they start walking. If he is flat footed and his ankles are “caving in” you should consult your physical therapist as soon as possible.Please follow up and let me know what your PT says.

  2. Hi Elvalen
    This is an excellent resource for parents with children who have ‘problem’ feet. Well done! You are so knowledgeable and caring! My eldest daughter has very flat feet and we always had trouble getting shoes to fit her. She has problems as an adult, probably because we didn’t know enough about these orthotics and other devices to help her. I will be sure to pass this website on to any parents I meet who have trouble with their kids’ feet. I can see it is so important for ALL children to have correctly fitted shoes and unfortunately, with the thousands of ‘cheap’ shoes available, people don’t take enough care to buy good quality shoes.
    Thankyou for creating this website!
    Ellie

    • Ellie,
      I do enjoy working with children and I understand the importance of proper shoe fitting. I have been fitting children shoes for only five years, but the store I work for is extremely busy and I do see hundreds of children each week. I disagree with one thing, not all cheap shoes are bad for children.There are certain styles very reasonable priced that have a lot of support, but you are right about the fact that most of them do not offer enough support.

  3. Hi Juan, this is really informative and helpful article to me. It is the first time I read about orthotics. I have 2 year baby and it will definitely help me to care my baby to keep out the foot problems.

    Thanks for this article.

  4. Wow! Super informative! My cousin was recently telling me how he was always leaning his feet outwards, and balancing on the side of his feet, and he said he never realized how terrible it was for his feet and legs in general, until he started to run for exercise. Now he says he feels more aligned and the pain has diminished! Too bad his parents didn’t know this much sooner! Thanks for the knowledgeable read! =)

  5. Wow, what thorough research! I noticed my daughter walking on her toes quite a bit, so I will keep an eye on her and see if it changes in the near future! Thanks so much for posting this! What other measures could I take to prevent any unhealthy walking habits from emerging?

    • Kylie,
      How old is your daughter? Once I know her age I will be in a position to provide you with a better answer. In order to prevent unhealthy walking habits you must provide your daughter with the correct pair of shoes, and in order to do this she needs to have her feet measured by a shoe fitter.

  6. Hello Juan,

    Very good & informative article, i am waiting for a baby next month & i am always searching about things related to babies care,health,food Etc, really this post gives me a lot of information about orthotics which i don’t know anything about before, thanks for the post.

    Ehab

  7. Hi Juan! My daughter is 4 and has been a toe walker since she started walking. We had her evaluated by Early Childhood Intervention at 2. They showed no concern, said she would grow out of it and just liked the bounce it gave her. Now, at 4, she has started PT with the possibility of needing casts after 3 months because she can’t flex foot past 90 degrees. I am having a hard time finding specific brand/shoe that will make it harder for her to go up on her tip toes. I’ve asked her PT and have not received a response. Your help would be much appreciated!

    • Hello Ashley,

      First of all look for shoes that are NOT flexible and try shoes that come with shoe laces instead of velcro. There is a particular shoe style that I have fitted before that might help ” ground her feet”. The shoe style is called ” KJ888V1″ and you can find a link to that shoe style here: The Best Shoes For Toe Walkers

      If that shoe style doesn’t help ground her I will try an orthotic before trying a cast. Orthotics make a huge difference, at least with the children we have helped at our store. Ask your PT and make sure you get the correct shoe size for your daughter! Please don’t leave too much growing room, the less growing room the better since it will prevent her from going on her toes.If you leave too much growing she will most likely go on her toes. I hope this helps!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.