Childhood is an important time for the development of our feet.
Untreated problems can cause pain, deformities and gait abnormalities in the growing child. These can lead to lifelong problems in adulthood in the back, hips, knees and feet.
More often than not, children don’t complain about foot pain or problems walking, so it is important to have their feet checked during childhood to identify any concerns.
Foot problems in adult life can often be prevented through intervention in childhood. By the age of 12 a young person’s foot has nearly reached adult size which is why early childhood is an important time for correction of any developmental and structural abnormalities.
What is included in a child’s foot check up?
Your podiatrist will take a paediatric medical history and complete a physical examination, including a gait analysis.
In your child’s foot check-up we will be looking closely at:
- Foot Posture Index assessment
- Joint flexibility tests, including the Beighton Hypermobility Score
- Foot and leg muscle strength testing – checking for muscle imbalances or weakness
- Screening for any leg length discrepancy
- Gait analysis and biomechanical assessment – to look for any abnormalities in the way the feet and legs move during gait
- Footwear assessment – looking for abnormal shoe wear patterns. Bring along their everyday school shoes and sports shoes
When should your child have their feet checked?
Children should have a regular foot check-up at these important milestones:
- Age 3 – when children develop a more adult ‘heel-toe’ gait pattern and the age when the arch has started to develop.
- Age 5 – just before the start of primary school is an ideal time to have a child’s foot check-up. This is the first time a child will be wearing enclosed shoes all day, every day and participating in organised sport.
- Age 11-12 – just before high-school starts. This is the start of puberty, with children getting heavier and often becoming involved in higher level sports. With the start of high school, most children will be required to wear a formal leather school shoe for the first time, so choosing the best style for their feet is important.
Book your child’s foot health check if you think your child may be struggling with:
- Flat feet
- Rolling in
- Balance, tripping or poor coordination
- Foot pain
- Toe walking
- Pigeon toe
- Knock knees or bow legs
- Growing pains in legs
What should I do if I think my child might have a foot problem?
Remember, it’s not normal for kids to complain of foot, leg or knee pain.
If your child complains of pain in their feet or legs, fatigues easily with moderate exercise, is not keen on participating in sport or asks to be carried (or sit in the pram) more than other kids or you have any other concerns about their foot posture or gait, contact us for a child’s foot health check-up.
Guidelines to avoid Children’s foot disorders
Don’t restrict a baby’s development with tight bedclothes, booties, socks or blankets. This allows them to kick and exercise their feet and legs.
Discourage poor sleeping and sitting positions (ie. sleeping on stomach, sitting on the knees with feet turned out). Sitting with legs crossed is preferred.
Walking frames place stress on bones and muscles prematurely. Babies will begin to walk through natural development, usually between 9 – 18 months.
Babies are bow legged up to 2 years old, then go through a knock kneed stage which can last up to 7 years of age.
When you child begins to walk, look for signs of abnormailities in structure