Have you noticed your child walking or running differently lately? Has your child been complaining about foot or leg pain?
I have been working at a specialized children’s shoe store for over 10 years now, and I handle approximately two hundred shoe fittings and try-ons per week. I have fitted hundreds of children’s shoes, and I am familiar with which shoe brands and which shoe styles are better than others.
We specialize in fitting children with foot and leg problems, but we provide regular shoe fittings as well. I have fitted hundreds of children with foot problems in supportive shoes and orthotics, and I know which shoe brands and which shoe styles can accommodate an orthotic.
One of the main reasons why parents bring their children to the store (most times referred by their physical or occupational therapists) is that their children have been diagnosed with overpronation from being flat footed or from having rolled ankles.
Parents are always asking me one common question: How can I tell if my child is flat footed?
I can tell if a child is flat footed by watching them walk and checking whether their arch has developed or not. Don’t stress out if your child has flat feet, this condition is very common, and it’s believed to be hereditary. However, you must find a pair of supportive shoes that provide good arch support in order to help your child walk and run straighter.
When children overpronate, they are putting pressure in parts of their body where they are not supposed to, and that leads to foot, leg, and back pain.
I am here to first HELP YOU identify whether your child is flat footed or not. If your child happens to be flat footed, I will provide you with a selection of the best shoes and orthotics for his/her feet.
The first step to check if your child has flat feet is to have him/her stand up STRAIGHT and take a look at the feet and legs from the back.
For example, let’s take a look at the picture below:
Do you notice how this child’s feet are turning inwards? This is mostly due because the child is flat footed, and since there is no arch to support the feet, both feet are collapsing and turning inwards. This throws the whole body out of alignment and leads to the child placing pressure in areas of the body where he or she is not supposed to.
Here is another picture of the child’s feet and legs from the front:
Do you notice how the knees are coming together and almost touching each other? This is what I mean when the whole body is thrown out of alignment.
The second step to check if your child is flat footed is to take a look at the shoes your child is currently wearing (please keep in mind that your child must have worn the shoes for at least 2 months).
I want you to take a closer look at the heel counter of the shoe. Do you know what the heel counter of the shoes is? The heel counter is the back part of the shoe that provides ankle support. Here is where the heel counter is located:
Now I want you to grab your kids’ shoes and look at them from behind and notice if the heel counter of the shoe is turning inwards or not.
For example, this first image shows a pair of shoes of a child that is flat footed and has been pronating:
Do you notice how both heel counters are collapsing and turning inwards?
This second image shoes how the heel counter of the shoes is supposed to look:
Do you notice how much straighter the heel counter of the shoes are?
These are the two simplest, yet most effective ways you can check if your child is flat footed or not.
If it turns out that your child is flat footed and overpronating, the FIRST STEP is to find shoes that provide good arch support and a firm heel counter. Why must the shoes provide a firm heel counter as well? Remember that first picture I show you about the child’s feet collapsing and turning inwards? The feet are collapsing because of the child being flat footed, but if you take a closer look you will also notice how the ankles of the child are also rolling outwards. Here is the picture again:
I have fitted some of the most supportive children’s shoes, and I will show you which are the styles I recommend. These shoe styles will provide arch and ankle support, and they are also available in different widths such as medium,wide, and extra wide (meaning that they will fit the shape of your child’s feet no matter how wide they are).
It’s important for the shoes to come in different widths since some children might have wide or extra wide feet, and the different widths such as wide and extra wide also allow us to fit an orthotic inside the shoes.
I always recommend parents of children with flat feet and overpronation to START by providing their kids with a pair of good supportive shoes. If the child still complains about foot and leg pain and the walking pattern doesn’t improve, that’s when I recommend fitting an orthotic inside the shoes.
Here you can find a selection of the most supportive shoes for children with flat feet that I have fitted before:
I recommend that you try these shoe styles for the next two months, and if your child walking pattern doesn’t improve and the pain is not significantly reduced or fully eliminated, then I recommend that you try an orthotic.
Do you know what an orthotic is? An orthotic is basically a shoe insert that is specifically designed to provide cushioning, support, stability, and relief pressure areas of the foot.
Orthotics can help the way your child walks and runs significantly. Let me prove it to you…
Let’s take a look at a picture of a child with flat feet standing up without an orthotic:
Here you can find a picture of a child standing up in a pair of orthotics:
Do you notice the difference and how much straighter the feet are when placed in the orthotics?
If you want to provide your child with a pair of orthotics, you should take a look at two articles I wrote where I describe the best orthotics for toddlers and older children:
Why is it so important to provide children with flat feet with supportive shoes and orthotics?
While many children have flat feet and notice no problems and require no treatment, others may experience the following symptoms:
- Your kids will complain about how their feet tire easily.
- Painful or achy feet, especially in the areas of the arches and heels.
- The inside bottoms of your kids’feet might become swollen.
- Back and leg pain.
I hope this article helped you clarify whether your child is flat footed or not. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.