Top 3 Most Common Kids’ Foot Problems – The Best Kids’ Shoes for Flat Feet, Rolled Ankles, and Toe-Walking

Do you have a child who is complaining about foot pain? There might be several reasons why your children complain about foot pain, but one thing is clear, pain is not normal, and when children experience pain, their bodies are telling us that there is a problem. Let me show you the top 3 most common kids’ foot problems and how to treat them.

The Importance of Being Proactive

I have spoken to several families who took their children to their medical professional due to their kids’ foot pain, but they were told not to worry, and that their child will eventually outgrow the pain. I always recommend parents to be proactive and don’t take the “wait and see approach” when it comes to treating their children’s foot conditions. Leaving your children’s foot conditions untreated can only lead to the condition getting worse.

What Are the Top 3 Most Common Foot Problems in Children?

There are 3 common foot conditions that usually lead to children experiencing foot pain:

  • Flat Feet
  • Rolled Ankles
  • Toe-Walking

The good news is that these 3 conditions can be treated by wearing the correct type of shoes.

Let’s start with the most common problem of why children experience foot and leg pain.

Number 1: Flat Feet


One of the most common reasons why children experience foot pain is from having flat feet. This type of foot is relatively common in children, especially in toddlers. Most toddlers are flat-footed since their arch can develop until the age of 5, and no intervention is required unless the toddler starts complaining about foot pain or there are visible signs of poor posture.

Flat feet is also referred to as pronation. We all have a certain degree of pronation, but when it’s excessive that’s when most issues arise. When pronation is excessive is usually referred to as overpronation.

When children are flat-footed, their feet tend to collapse and roll inwards, which throws their whole bodies out of alignment. This leads them to put pressure on parts of their bodies where they are not supposed to, which usually leads to foot, knee, and back pain.

These are the most common symptoms of children who have flat feet and that parents should watch out for:

  • Tripping or falling
  • Muscle fatigue or soreness
  • Hip pain
  • Back pain
  • Instability
  • Growing pains
  • Not willing to participate in sports or normal activity
  • General fatigue

How to Treat Flat Feet? – Supportive Shoes

The most effective way to treat children with flat feet is through supportive shoes. In certain cases, the child might need an orthotic for extra support to be fitted inside the shoes depending on the degree of the child’s pronation.

Let me show you what a difference the correct pair of shoes can make in treating your child’s flat-footed condition. Below is an image of a flat-footed child standing barefoot.

Before Image: Child with Flat Feet Standing Barefoot


Let’s see what happens when we fit that same child in a pair of shoes that are unsupportive and too flimsy. You will notice that the feet still collapse and turn inwards.

After Image: Same Child with Flat Feet Wearing Unsupportive Shoes


Now let’s take a look at an image of the same child wearing a pair of supportive shoes. Do you notice how straighter the feet are? The substantial sole of the shoes is preventing the child’s feet from collapsing and turning inwards. This will help improve the child’s overall posture.

After Image: Same Child with Flat Feet Wearing Supportive Shoes


The correct type of shoes won’t mold your child an arch, but it will help your child walk and run straighter and improve your child’s overall posture.

What Are the Best Shoes for Kids with Flat Feet?

I created a different resource that showcases a selection of the most supportive everyday sneakers for kids with flat feet.

Number 2: Rolled Ankles

Most people relate flat feet with having rolled ankles, but in my experience, a child doesn’t need to be flat-footed to have rolled ankles.

This condition throws the child’s body out of alignment and can cause heel pain. Unlike flat feet, rolled ankles can be corrected by wearing the correct pair of shoes, and in certain cases orthotics as well. The image below shows a child with rolled ankles:


When children have rolled ankles, you need to find a pair of shoes that come with a firm heel counter, which is the back part of the shoe that provides ankle support.

Always make sure that when you press on the heel counter of the shoe it feels firm and not soft or flimsy. Let’s take a look at the images below for better visualization purposes. As I am pressing on the heel counter of the shoe on the right image I can feel it feels firm and it doesn’t easily bend. However, as I press on the heel counter of the shoe in the image on the left you can see how it bends because the heel counter is too soft.


Having rolled ankles is more common than you think. If your child is complaining about heel pain, always start by making sure that the shoes that your child is wearing provide a firm heel counter. Shoes that come with shoelaces instead of velcro closure are always going to provide better heel support.

What Are the Best Shoes for Kids with Rolled Ankles?

There is a different post that describes the best sneakers for kids with rolled ankles.

Number 3: Toe-Walking

Toe walking is a walking pattern in which a child walks on the toes and there is no contact between the heels and the ground. Take a look at the picture below to see how toe walking looks like:


I have helped several children who were toe-walking find the correct pair of shoes that helped “ground” them and walk heel to toe.

Toe walking in babies is common, and if your child is just beginning to walk then you shouldn’t be concerned, since this is a common condition in babies who are learning how to walk. However, if your child continues to toe walk beyond the toddler years — by 3 years of age — then you must take action since this can lead to stiff muscles — tight calf muscles in particular — and toe walking can compromise your child’s stability — making your child more prone to falling.

The type of shoes that I recommend for children who toe-walk are ones with less flexibility at the front. The less flexible the shoes are the better, since this will prevent the likelihood of your child walking on his/her toes. I always start by recommending a pair of shoes, but most children who toe walk end up wearing orthotics as well.

What Are the Best Shoes for Toe Walking?

Learn more about the best shoes for children who walk on their toes in this article.

I am always explaining to parents that for their children to get the full benefits that the shoes have to offer, they need to provide them with the correct shoe size. This involves getting the correct shoe length and the correct shoe width. This leads me to this next question: Are you 100% sure of your child’s foot size?


How to Retrieve Your Child’s Exact Foot Length and Shape

Shoes that are too short or too narrow might cramp your kids’ toes and make them rub against one another or the side of the shoes. On the other hand, shoes that are too long or too wide allow for too much foot movement inside the shoes. Both of these scenarios might lead to several foot issues such as blisters, calluses, ingrown toenails, corns, as well as foot pain.

This is the reason why I always recommend parents take their kids to their local children’s shoe store, where they can be properly fitted for shoes. However, several parents have contacted me asking me how and where they can get their kids’ shoes online since they don’t have a local shoe store in their area that they trust.

If you are not sure whether you have a good-fitting children’s shoe store in your area, start by taking a look at a resource that I created where I describe the best-fitting shoe stores for kids in the United States. 

If after looking at that resource you still are not able to locate a kids’ shoe store in your area, then proceed to take a look at an article I created where I describe the simplest, yet most effective way to figure out your child’s foot size from home.

Now that you know how to figure out your child’s exact foot size from home, and which are the most effective shoes to address your child’s particular foot condition, you are ready to keep your children’s feet healthy.

I have put together a selection of shoes that have proven to be the most effective ones when it comes to treating these 3 common foot conditions. Disclosure: Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases.

I only review shoes that I have fitted before since that is the only way for me to tell how well-made and supportive they are, and how they fit. The shoes I recommend below all come with shoelaces instead of velcro closure since shoelaces provide better support and stability.

Best Shoes for Flat Feet, Rolled Ankles, and Toe Walking

The shoes below can fit children with narrow, medium, wide, or extra wide feet.

Are Any Other Shoe Choices Available?

Do not hesitate to contact me if you are having trouble finding a particular shoe style for your child. You can leave me a comment in the section below or contact me directly at: [email protected]