Many of us, as we get older, understand the misery of ‘bad feet’, so please think about your child’s feet – before it is too late! It is never too early to consider children’s foot health care.
The right footwear
Children’s feet in this early stage of life are so important, yet so often overlooked. So what can we do to help? Good footwear is essential. This is not just measured, but shaped to match their feet. There are three foot shapes, D (longer big toe), Oval (longer second toe) and Square (Big toe and second toe same length). Unfortunately, since parents often lose the battle for power with children, the child will pick a shoe they like the look of, or the same as their friends. While the foot is young and the bones are not fully formed the pressure of shoes can change the shape of bones, changing them forever. Sometimes this can be a good thing, put only if done with the advice of a professional. Some feet start life out of shape and by pushing the feet with shoes and insoles this can be corrected permanently. To check the fit of shoes, draw around the feet standing on card, then cut the shape out and try fitting them into the shoes. If the card gets bent so do the feet!
Spotting problems is not always very simple. Very young children always walk “funny”. It is when they walk differently to the rest of their peers that you need to ask questions. A competent Podiatrist with good Bio-mechanics skills can assess your child to check if they are within normal limits for their age. Gender is important. Girls are more complex because their hips change at around 12 years old and their bones stop changing at an earlier age. Their footwear is often for fashion not comfort. Boys have a longer period of time before their bones are fixed. Their footwear is often easier to get insoles into as well as being more supportive. Their only disadvantage is the speed of change during their “growth spurts”. Simple things to check: – are the feet straight, do the knees face straight ahead, do the arches stay up on standing, and when they walk do they look normal?
Family history is always worth knowing as some foot problems run, (or limp) in families. Foot abnormalities do not always cause foot pain, but the long term effects may be very damaging to the rest of the body. Knee positions may change to cope with collapsed feet causing knee, hip and lower back to be put at risk. Similarly, poor posture can be caused by the feet, or it may be that the bad posture is the cause of foot problems.
BSc Podiatry, State & HPC Registered in Chiropody & Podiatry