Kid Care: Flat Feet

You may have noticed your child’s feet were flat when you saw his or her footprints in sand or if your child walked on a flat surface with wet feet. Arches, the curved part of the bottom of the feet, are like a bridge made of bones joined together by ligaments. They help absorb the shock of walking and distribute weight on the feet. Although some children develop arches as their “baby fat” disappears, some children don’t. If not, it’s still considered normal, and usually not a cause for concern.

Understanding arch development

Although many children’s feet have arches when their feet are off the ground, they may have flat feet when standing. This is due to loose arch-supporting ligaments in the feet. Your child's healthcare provider inspects your child’s arches when they’re in the air and on a flat surface. If your child has painful flat feet, the healthcare provider may order X-rays to determine the best type of treatment.

Caring for your child

Over time, your child’s feet may or may not develop arches. If not, it won’t affect the way your child walks or runs. Your child’s healthcare provider may suggest you go ahead and let your child play sports and participate in other activities.

In some cases...

If your child has painful flat feet, the healthcare provider may recommend arch supports or special shoe inserts to help relieve pain. He or she may also recommend an orthopedic surgeon if bone problems are present. Sometimes physical therapy can provide your child with exercises to strengthen loose ligaments and ease pain.