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Children's Feet

Childhood is the most important time for feet and body development – the time when feet are growing and strengthening.

Many children experience development problems with their feet.  Some others have hereditary issues, and others develop problems caused by inappropriate footwear.

How can you tell if your child has a problem? Often, they will begin to complain of a recurrent pain – sometimes in their knees or ankles, and it’s time to investigate further.

Sometimes, simply looking at the wear pattern on a child’s shoes will tell you what’s involved – if the wear is uneven, you can see it straight away. These common problems can be fixed fairly simply.

However, sometimes the problem is not simple – it may reveal an underlying condition which may require immediate treatment or consultation with another specialist. The Australian Podiatry Association recommends foot health examinations for school children on a regular basis.

Kids & Sports

If your child enjoys sport, then running, turning, jumping and sudden stops can all cause problems, and the extra physical stress can reveal other underlying issues.

If your child is complaining of a pain which is recurrent after sport, then it’s a good indication that you need to take action, in order to enable them to continue to enjoy the benefits of physical exercise without discomfort and to reach their full potential on the sports field or dance floor.

Problems noticed at birth will not disappear by themselves. You should not wait until the child begins walking to take care of the problem. They will not “grow out” of the problem; rather, the problem will “grow in”.

When children develop problems early, they compensate in their activity and walking, to avoid the pain. Your child might shy away from sports activity, just because it hurts.

Parents are not experts. For this reason, it makes sense to have your child examined at least once in early childhood, to determine whether there are any detectable problems.

Shopping for Shoes

It has been estimated that more than half of all children have trouble with their feet because of the shoes they wear.

This is particularly the case when decisions are made on brand name, rather than good foot health.

There are several things to consider when buying children’s shoes:

  • Shop for shoes at the end of the day. Feet are 5 percent to 8 percent larger than in the morning.
  • Make sure both feet are measured.
  • If one foot is slightly larger than another – which isn’t uncommon – always fit to the larger size.
  • Allow half a thumb-space of room (.05 – 1cm) between the longer toe and the end of the shoe.
  • Feel along the sides of the shoe while on the foot to make sure the widest part of the foot corresponds with the widest part of the shoe.
  • When trying on shoes, have your child wear the socks they would expect to wear most often with the shoe.
  • Have your child walk around to make sure the shoes have flexibility and the foot doesn’t step in and out of the shoe.

It’s important to realise that children rarely complain about foot problems. So, observe your child’s walk for abnormalities; watch for bowlegs, flat feet, over or underlapping toes and pigeon toes. The child who doesn’t want to go out to run and play, or who wants to be carried all the time, may not be doing so because there is discomfort.  This may be a sign that an examination is called for.

Improperly fitted shoes can lead to serious foot or ankle problems. Some common problems associated with improperly fitted shoes include bunions, contracted toes, blisters, calluses, painful tendonitis and even inflammation of the growth centres of the bones. These are all foot deformities caused or exacerbated by poor-fitting shoes.