Does Your Child Have Flat Feet? What You Need to Know

Posted on: 23 September 2015


There are some genetic traits that parents pass along to their children. Some of your child's physical attributes, such as their hair and eyes, will often be a mirror image of your own. But there are some traits that you will not want to pass along to your children, such as flat feet. If you have flat feet, it's not conclusive that your children will also have the condition, although it's certainly a possibility. It's important to examine your child's feet as soon as they're able to stand on their own so that flat feet can be diagnosed and the necessary preventative steps taken. So what do you need to look for, and what can be done?

Take a Look at Their Feet

When your children are standing, look at their feet. The absence of visible arches on the feet is the easiest way to diagnose flat feet. This can be inconclusive when it comes to very young children, as baby fat can often cover the arch and will give the appearance of flat feet. Some other things you need to look out for include:

  • A "bouncing" walk when the child's natural gait has them rising on the balls of their feet as they walk.
  • The child might seem to stumble with no discernible cause
  • Feet that angle inwards or outwards to a significant degree.

Problems Later in Life

There are varying degrees of flat feet, and feet that are only mildly flat may not cause any problems. And while significantly flat feet do not lead to any physical developmental issues, they can be highly inconvenient and even painful in later life. Untreated flat feet can cause pain in the feet (particularly in the heels), strained leg muscles (particularly in the calves), and even hip pain. But these things are inconveniences that can be easily overcome. If you're concerned about your child's feet, simply speak to your doctor. They will refer you to a podiatrist in your area for further examination.

What Can a Podiatrist Do?

The podiatrist will take a mold of your child's feet, giving them a three-dimensional representation of the severity of the condition. There are a few straightforward treatment options.

  • Your podiatrist might simply recommend specific shoes for your child that have adequate arch support. Sporting shoes are often suitable.
  • A shoe insert made of plastic resin can be made. These inserts simply slip inside the shoe and provide significant arch support, regardless of the type of shoe worn. These inserts will need to be replaced as your child grows.
  • In extreme cases, the podiatrist might suggest surgical intervention. This requires tendon augmentation, in which the main tendon that supports the arch is lifted, eliminating the flat feet altogether. This surgery is usually performed on an outpatient basis, with minimal recovery time.

Take a look at your child's feet if you have any concerns. If their feet are flat, taking action now will head off problems in later life.