Are flat feet in children something to be concerned about?
Well, that depends. What does it depend on?
Here are 5 of the most common concerns with flat feet in children that you need to be aware of. They are:
Let's discuss each one of these to get a better understanding why.
1. Age of the child.
All children are born with flat feet. All things being normal and as nature intended them to be, most children will develop an arch by the age of-. However, all things are not as nature intended or normal.
Most children start their first steps on hard, flat surfaces such as; wood floors, vinyl tile floors, concrete, or some type of carpeted flooring. Even if carpeted the floors are still essentially hard, flat, and unyielding.
So, why does that matter?
Very simply put, feet are not flat, at least they should not be. They actually have three arches that give support to the bones of the feet and ankles, as well as help to keep the joints of the foot properly aligned and functional.
These bones and joints are not fixed in a permanent position; but possess some give and play in their motion. This give-and-play permits the foot and ankle to respond and react to the many irregularities in walking surfaces. The foot and ankle, as well as the rest of the body, are actually supposed to possess this ability-to give to surface irregularities. This permits for normal nerve, muscle, and skeletal development and function.
Deprive the foot of this ability and you end up with a very poorly developed and functioning human being-one that is prone to injury in the form of strains, sprains, fractures, and poor balance and coordination.
The earth has, or should have, compressibility to normal walking:heel-strike, mid-stance, and toe-off.
When you are no longer walking on compressible surfaces, the arches will now have to collapse to meet the surface. Ligaments that hold the bones of the arches together are not elastic. So as the arches collapse the bones that make up the arches collapse as well, or drop, causing ligaments to become further stretched. In short time, these chronically stretched ligaments will remain overly stretched, and fail to continue to act as guy wires and support the arches.
The child then ends up with fallen arches and most likely concomitant over-pronation. This sets off a chain reaction of knee rotation, hip rotation, forward pelvic tilt, hyper-lordosis of the lumbar spine, and abnormal stresses all the way up the body.
Left uncorrected for years, the stage is then set for the child with flat feet to suffer with joint and disc degeneration, arthritis, muscle pain and dysfunction, and subsequent adult disability.
2. Type of shoes.
As a toddler begins walking they are often put in shoes that are not any better than walking on those hard, flat surfaces. With flat feet in children, it is nearly impossible to fit a toddler or young child with proper supportive shoes because the feet grow so fast. It would be too costly to keep up with this rapid growth for most families.
Now, as a child grows into preteen and teen years things don't get much better. They still walk on hard, flat, unyielding surfaces in shoes that are still do not adequately give proper support and allow normal function.
Even worse, the child is not only walking on these damaging surfaces, they are also jumping, running, and playing on them. This running and jumping action only forces more collapse of the arches and results in more permanent damage.
So, as a child ages, the already flat feet become more permanently flat with more severe damage ensuing.
The type of surface has already been alluded to in the first two points. Usually, all children are pretty much walking on the same type of surfaces. Therefore, with few exceptions, all children will be subjected to the same damaging surfaces of hard, flat, and unyielding floors-wood, vinyl, and concrete.
Man was meant to walk on soft soil and sand. This is no longer happening in our modern world. So we should strive to emulate that type of surface.
4. Weight of the child.
Oh! Yes, weight is extremely important. A child who is heavier will hasten the damaging effects of flat feet and the stresses of walking with flat feet on hard, flat surfaces. I have examined hundreds of children and it never failed to reveal that the heaviest children had the most flat and over-pronated feet. With it, they also experienced the most knee, hip, and low back problems. Many times the child showed the same misalignments and problems that I would expect to find in an older adult population.
Sadly, they will need knee and hip joint replacement, and low back surgery, sooner than that of their parents and grandparents are experiencing.
The more active the child is (playing and sports participation) the greater the need is for proper arch support and shoes.
A child with flat feet that is very physically active throughout their developing years will most likely suffer more damage than a child that is sedentary.
For example, a car that is driven two or three times the miles of another will need repairs and undergo more damage than a car that is not driven as much. So it is with the child with flat feet that is more active. He or she, compared to a child that is not as active, will experience more stress and possible damage and will have a greater need for prevent and corrective measures.
The solution is not to restrict activity and thus not subject the child with flat feet to probable stress and damage-doing so will only cause devastating poor health consequences.
Here are 3 simple corrective and preventive steps to take whenever you discover flat feet in children, or when trying to prevent it from happening in the first place: