Does My Child Need Orthotics?

When a parent brings their child to our podiatry clinic, it is often due to concerns about flat feet, and whether their child needs orthotics.

Flat feet are relatively normal from birth to about two years of age, as the arch doesn’t start to develop until the child is walking. Even after that, the soles of a child’s feet may look flat, but this does not necessarily indicate a problem.

does my child need orthotics

The term “flat foot” is a fairly broad term covering a number of foot alignment issues. True flat foot is a condition where the longitudinal arch of the foot has not yet developed normally. However excess pronation can also make your child’s foot look flat, and cause you to worry.

Flat Feet or Excess Pronation?

Pronation is the natural movement of the foot and ankle, where they roll inwards when you are in motion. It can affect one foot, or both.

However in many cases it can roll in excessively – ie excess pronation. As the child walks or runs, excess pronation causes:

  • the arch of the foot to flatten;
  • the fore foot to splay outwards;
  • and the ankle to pull upwards.

In a true case of flat foot there is no change in the arch contour (ie it remains flat), whether the child is standing or sitting.

A pronated foot on the other hand, will seem flat when the child is standing, but there is a fully developed arch profile when the child is seated.

Excess pronation is quite common in children from birth up to about age eight or nine, and is not usually painful (if your young child is complaining of aching legs, that they can’t sleep due to leg pain, or pleading for you to rub their legs to give them some relief, this merits further investigation for hidden pathologies).

The reason pronation is so common in children is because bone grows faster than soft tissue, creating a muscular imbalance. The child’s foot subsequently pronates to compensate; in some children, it might result in knock knees or bow legs for a time.

does my child need orthotics

There are other factors which may contribute to a change in the arch of the child’s foot – such as limb length discrepancies, or curvature of the lower back.

By the age of five or six, the foot bones have positioned themselves, and all they have to do is grow and get bigger. At this stage if the arch does not appear to be developing, it’s worth visiting your local podiatry clinic to find out if orthotics may be of benefit. Before making a diagnosis we will likely send your child for x-ray and/or ultrasound, to make sure there’s no congenital abnormalities (eg bony fusions, ligament or tendon damage, non-development of particular structures).

Orthotics for Excess Pronation

In a true case of flat foot, there is no arch – so there is no point in using an orthotic to support an arch that does not exist. In this case, it would simply hurt the client.

We find approximately 80% of children visiting our podiatry clinic are presenting with excess pronation. Treatment may include advice on footwear choices, exercises, or possibly orthotics.

What sort of Orthotics?

If your podiatrist recommends orthotics, there are two types to consider: off the shelf, or customised.

Off the shelf are cheaper, but provide only a certain degree of correction. If there is a marked deformity, we have no choice but to prescribe custom orthotics, because one foot is functioning quite differently to the other.

At our Redlands Podiatry Clinic we see clients of all ages, so if you have any concerns about your child’s feet, need school shoes, or want guidance on the best kids shoes for orthotics, you can book an appointment now using our secure online booking system.

Meet our Redlands Podiatrists

We might be slightly biased, but we reckon we have three of the best podiatrists in the Redlands at our clinic!

This month, we thought we’d spill the beans so you can find out what they get up to when they’re not providing expert foot care.

Principal Podiatrist Trevor Lane

Redlands podiatrist Trevor Lane

Having worked as a Redlands podiatrist for over 20 years, Trevor’s area of special interest is the correlation between the feet, legs and lower back.

He is particularly passionate about the science of biomechanics, and helping athletes to understand it as well, so that they can perform better in their chosen sport.

Trevor loves outdoor pursuits like camping, fishing, skiing, hiking, and surfing, and has participated in local team sports such as touch football and indoor soccer.

Redlands podiatrist Trevor Lane at the snow

When not on an outdoor adventure, our principal podiatrist loves spending time with his family – cooking up a storm in the kitchen or on the BBQ, relaxing outside in the garden, walking the dog, or riding his bike.

Nina Hunter

Our designer extraordinare, Nina has a passion for fashion, and an eye for detail.

female podiatrist Redlands Nina Hunter

Even though she’s a true people person, she can’t help but show off her love for animals – and she’s a foodie at heart.

Nina chose podiatry over a life in nursing and has never looked back.

Her colleagues at our Redlands podiatry clinic will tell you that Nina is friendly no matter what, and is never grumpy. And even if she was, she wouldn’t show it! She always has a happy face, and is in good spirits.

She is a good listener and always has great suggestions to make things better around the clinic.

Nina is partial to iced chocolate drinks, or in fact anything chocolate – and goes to the gym regularly to keep fit – maybe to compensate for her chocolate indulgences!

In her spare time, Nina loves spending time with family and friends, the outdoors, watching comedy and drama movies, and losing herself in a good book.

Lachlan Whitwell

Lachlan has always loved the sciences and nature, originally planning to become an ecologist or zoologist.

Redlands podiatrist Lachlan Whitwell

After a stint volunteering at the museum in the Arachnology department, Lachlan realised he much preferred to see animals alive and in their natural habitat, than in jars.

So Lachlan chose podiatry instead, and we are very glad he did! As a podiatrist he enjoys the opportunity to combine science, problem solving, and helping a wide range of people.

Lachlan likes to unwind with a good nature documentary, or by going bush walking, particularly with his fiancée or other friends. He cherishes the times when he can drop off the map for a while, either camping or overseas.

Eventually Lachlan hopes to do some not-for-profit health care work in the Pacific or Asia, but in the meantime, he “scratches that itch” with his involvement in Rotaract, which helps out communities in need – from local schools to refugee camps in Cyprus.

Lachlan is studying online for a Graduate Diploma in Psychology, which he feels will benefit his practice now, and may present some interesting opportunities in the future.

We hope you have enjoyed getting to know our foot care team a little better – and remember, you can now book a Redlands podiatrist online, or call us today on 3207 4736.