Children, as any parent can attest, are not little adults. It takes a long time for them to physically, intellectually, and psychologically mature. That includes development of their feet and legs, too, and flat feet in kids can change over time.
If you’re the proud parent of a young child—one who maybe is just learning to take his or her first steps, or has been confidently toddling for a few years now—you may well have noticed that whenever they stand their soles are flat, fully flush with the ground. Whatever arch shape they may have when sitting or on tip toes, it disappears during normal walking. Why might this be?
Well, the answer has everything to do with the “relaxed” pace of skeletal development for the human species. In the early years, bones and joints are soft and flexible. This has a number of advantages for your little one. Soft bones are handy for the whole being-in-the-womb and birth process. They also give your child room to grow (hardened bones can still add mass through a person’s late 20s, but they won’t get longer), and also make them more resistant to injury and quicker to heal.
A side consequence of all this soft, flexible bone is, of course, flexible flat feet. When standing, your child’s weight is often enough to cause the arch joints to sag and flatten. This is completely normal and nothing to worry about. As your child’s feet gradually becomes less flexible and the muscles in the foot tighten, you should start to see a permanent arch forming by age six or so. Until then, it’s best to just keep an eye on your child’s feet. If they aren’t in pain, and they appear to be playing, running, and moving normally with no hesitation, there’s no reason to seek any professional attention.
Of course, there’s a chance that an arch won’t develop at all—by some accounts approximately 10 to 20 percent of kids with flatfoot carry the condition through adulthood. If you’re worried about arches that haven’t formed yet, or notice any signs of discomfort, pain, or unwillingness to participate in physical activity on the part of your child, bring him or her to Dr. Keith McSpadden for a check-up. To schedule an appointment with North Austin Foot & Ankle Institute in Round Rock or Cedar Park, TX, give us a call at 512-593-2949.