Foot Health for Children

As podiatrists, it is important to have a fundamental understanding of the physical development of the foot and leg from conception to birth and beyond.

Many changes occur throughout the early stages of our life. An infant’s musculoskeletal make-up is very different to that of a young teenager and it is important to be aware of these changes and understand the ‘age for stage’ development.

Below are just a few of the physical changes you may see as your child grows:

  • For the first year of life, the knees are very ‘bow-legged’, this reduces as walking commences and progresses.  At around 3-4 years of age, this position over-corrects to become ‘knock-kneed’. From there this position reduces to become straighter once again and remains as we age.
  • At the ankle, a newborn is able to touch their toes against the front of their shin. This movement is called dorsiflexion and is a vital aspect of walking, allowing our body to pass over our foot as we transfer from one foot to another. At 3 years, this motion sits at approximately 20-25 degrees, and by 15 years, reduces to just 10 degrees. At Pro Podiatry SA, we use instruments and weight-bearing range of motion assessments to reveal any impediments or muscle tightness.
  • Foot posture is an incredibly common concern of parents. When a child initially begins their journey into walking, the foot appears very flat. It is important to know that this is completely normal. Through continued walking and exercise, the muscles in the feet and legs will become stronger, and you will begin to see more structural integrity, and the development of the arch.
    If you are still concerned about your child’s flat feet, come in and see us at Pro Podiatry SA where we utilize a ‘Paediatric Flat Foot Proforma’ that can guide whether to intervene, monitor or leave alone.

Many foot conditions can be identified and prevented in childhood. It is wise to understand that the age for stage values simply present a guide as to what is considered appropriate. In the absence of symptoms, these values may act as a predictive indicator for future harm. However, the body is very capable of adapting to different structural positions and movement patterns so it is important to be aware, not alarmed.

Pro Podiatry SA,  Jake Pitt, Podiatrist

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