Flat Feet In Children

Parents are often concerned about the shape of their children’s feet, usually because they appear ‘flatter’ than an adult’s foot. However, depending on the age and stage of physical development of the child, they may have no need to worry. In the first few years our feet and legs undergo a lot of structural changes as part of normal development which affect the shape of our feet and walking pattern (‘gait’). These include torsional changes in the bones of the legs and knees, increase in the strength of muscles and ligaments, and improvement in balance and coordination. These factors produce many changes in the appearance of the young child’s feet and legs which may be normal. For this reason treatment of flat feet (also sometimes called “excessive pronation”, “over pronation” or “pes planus”) is rarely required before the age of about 5 or 6 years, after these early developmental changes have occurred.

Treatment is usually only required when:

  • There is associated pain or fatigue in the feet, knees or lower leg which can be related to flat feet
  • There is an abnormal degree of pronation which is not related to normal development
  • There is dysfunction which can be related to flat feet

When required treatment may include:

  • Advice in regard to appropriate supportive footwear
  • Stretching and strengthening exercises to improve muscle function
  • Exercises to improve balance and coordination
  • Various inserts (foot orthoses or ‘orthotics’) to support the foot

If you have any concerns in regard to the shape of your child’s feet or walking pattern, regardless of their age, see a podiatrist for advice as to whether treatment is required or not.