What is the Cause of Foot Pain? – What the Symptoms Mean

Has your child been complaining about foot and leg pain? If your children are old enough to be able to voice their opinions and have told you that their feet hurt, please don’t just assume they are growing pains. While in some cases it can be growing pains or children might be simply looking for attention, if your child keeps complaining about pain after a few days, the problem is not likely to go away on its own. One of the most common questions I get at the shoe store where I work is: What is the cause of foot pain?

The Importance of Being Proactive – “Don’t Take the Wait and See Approach”

Did you know that most causes of foot pain are related to the shoes your child wears and how they fit? I will provide you with a couple of scenarios that will help you identify where your child’s foot pain is coming from and which shoes will help treat your child’s condition.

I always recommend parents to be proactive and don’t take the “wait and see approach” when it comes to treating their kids’ foot conditions. Waiting for your child’s condition to resolve on its own might only lead to the condition getting harder to manage.

What Role Do Shoes Play In Keeping Your Kids’ Feet Healthy?

Shoes play a key role in keeping your children’s feet healthy, but your child might be experiencing foot pain due to other causes such as flat feet, rolled ankles, knock knees, overpronation, or low muscle tone, just to name a few. To prevent and treat those foot conditions, you need to choose the correct type of shoes for your child and in some cases orthotics as well.

For example, one of the most common causes of foot pain in children is being flat-footed. When children are flat-footed, their feet collapse and turn inwards, throwing their whole body out of alignment which leads them to put pressure on parts of their body where they are not supposed to.

The most common and efficient way to help treat and improve the way that your child walks and runs is by wearing shoes that provide good arch support and a firm heel counter. This will help strengthen and straighten your kids’ feet and legs, allowing your child to walk and run straighter and reducing or fully eliminating the pain that your child was experiencing.

Don’t take my word for it, let me prove it to you!

What a Difference These Shoes Can Make!

Let’s take a look at a picture of a child with flat feet wearing two different types of shoes. The first picture shows a flat-footed child standing barefoot Do you notice how the child’s feet are still collapsing and turning inwards?

child-with-flat-feet

The second picture shows the same child wearing a pair of unsupportive shoes. Do you notice how the child’s feet are still collapsing and turning inwards?

child-with-flat-feet-wearing-unsupportive-shoes

The last picture shows the same child wearing a pair of supportive shoes. Do you notice how the arch support and the heel support are preventing the feet from collapsing and turning inwards? This will allow your child to walk and run straighter, improving the overall posture of your child.

supportive-shoes-with-straight-lasts-for-children-with-flat-feet

While I am not a foot doctor, I have fitted and helped hundreds of children that were experiencing foot and leg pain and I have seen the positive impact and the key role that shoes play in keeping children’s feet and legs healthy.

It’s your job as a parent to monitor your kids’ walking behavior and be alert to signs that might be leading to their foot issues.

I will describe what is the cause of foot pain and provide you with a selection of the best children’s shoes that help prevent and minimize the pain that your child is experiencing.

What is The Cause of Foot Pain? – Check Your Kids’ Shoes! 

Before you can start treating your child’s foot pain, you must first identify the root cause of the pain.

When kids complain about foot and leg pain they may be experiencing growing pains in their heel bones, but they could be also experiencing other conditions such as flat feet, knock knees, heel pain or they may be wearing improper shoes that are causing the pain.

Keep in mind that ankle and foot pain is very common in kids that are around age seven to eight due to the high amount of activity and running around they do everyday — this doesn’t mean that you don’t have to find ways to reduce the pain.

So…How do we find out what is the cause of foot pain? The first step is to figure out where your children’s foot or leg pain is coming from, so have your child point out the area or areas on his or her feet where it hurts.

First Scenario – Heel Pain

If your child notes that the pain is coming from the heels, your child might have Sever’s disease. This is one of the most common causes of heel pain in children.

Sever’s disease is an inflammatory condition of the growth plate in the heel bone, and it happens when children put a lot of stress and pressure on the growth plate when they are running, jumping, and being active every time their feet impact the ground.

The most effective method to treat heel pain in your child’s feet is to provide your child with a pair of shoes with a firm heel counter, and if that doesn’t reduce the pain you should try a pair of heel cups. If you don’t know what the heel counter of the shoe is, please take a look at the image below for clarification:

children's-shoes-with-heel-support

Here you can find a selection of the best type of shoes for children who are experiencing heel pain, and which are the most effective heel cups to reduce or fully eliminate the pain.


Second Scenario – Flat Feet

Now let’s take a look at a different scenario where a child notes that the pain is coming from his or her entire foot, as well as in the ankles and calf muscles. In this particular case, your child may have flat feet.

The easiest way to figure out whether your children have flat feet or not is to stand them up and check if the arch collapses. Let’s take a look at a picture of a flat-footed child:

Let me show you a couple of additional images of children with flat feet:

I have helped hundreds of children with flat feet who were experiencing foot and leg pain. Flat feet is believed to be hereditary and if not treated properly it can cause a lot of pain and discomfort.

Remember the images above that helped us visualize how a pair of supportive shoes can help straighten the feet and legs of a flat-footed child?

I have noticed that the correct type of shoes that come with a substantial outsole and good arch support will help your child walk and run straighter. They will also help reduce or fully eliminate the pain that the child is experiencing.


Third Scenario – Toe Pain

If your child notes that the pain is coming from his or her toes check for blisters, bunions or ingrown toenails.

Shoes that are too short, too long, too narrow, or too wide can contribute to your child developing foot issues. Your child’s shoes must fit just right! In addition, there are 2 key features that your child’s shoes must provide to help treat and prevent toe pain:

1️⃣ Extra Depth: This feature helps prevent your child’s toes from rubbing against the top front part of the shoes.

2️⃣ Rounder Toe-Boxes: This feature helps prevent your kids’ toes from rubbing against the side of the shoes or overlapping one another.

I actually recently created a different article that describes the best shoes for kids with toe pain.


Do You Have a Specialized Children’s Shoe Store in Your Area?

I always recommend parents take their children to their local shoe store, where a shoe fitter can properly measure their feet and find shoes that fit. However, several parents have contacted me concerned that they don’t have a local shoe store that they trust and always have to end up buying their kids’ shoes online.

If you are one of those parents, please start by reading an article I wrote where I describe the simplest yet most effective way to make sure your child is wearing the correct shoe size.

The shoes that you provide for your child play a key role in keeping your child’s feet healthy. While you can provide your child with a pair of supportive shoes that are lightweight and flexible, if they are not the correct size your child won’t get any of the benefits that the shoes have to offer.

Now that you know how to make sure you provide your child with the correct shoe size and the key role that shoes play in keeping your children’s feet and legs healthy, I will provide you with a selection of the best shoes for children who are experiencing foot or leg pain. 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. 

The Best Shoes for Kids with Foot Pain

The shoes I describe below are the most supportive ones that I have fitted before while being lightweight and flexible at the same time, and they have proven to reduce and in some cases fully eliminate the pain that children were experiencing.

These shoes are also available in different widths such as medium (M), wide (W), and extra wide (XW), so please choose the shoe width accordingly. 

Please keep in mind that shoelaces always provide better support and stability than velcro closure. Before I forget, please encourage and remind your child to stretch as often as possible, as this will help relieve some of the pain your child might be experiencing. 

If after trying a pair of supportive shoes your child is still experiencing foot and leg pain, please let me know and I would be able to recommend an orthotic for extra support.

Are Any Other Shoe Choices Available?

Is there a particular shoe style that you are looking for your child but can’t seem to find it? Please do not hesitate to contact me and I will help you find it: fittingchildrensshoes@gmail.com

Do you have a good fitting children’s shoe store in your area that you trust? Parents are always asking me if I know about a trustworthy children’s shoe store in their area so if you know of one please let us know in the comments section below that way other parents can benefit from your experience.