It has been our experience at Midleton Foot Clinic that proper care and treatment of the feet beginning in childhood plus early intervention will prevent many of the mechanical and orthopaedic problems seen in adults. Preventive medicine in Podiatry is just as important to your child as dentistry or general medicine. Many children walk excessively pigeon toed, flat footed, or bowlegged. Although they are not in pain, they are damaging their feet and their bodies as a result.
We treat all types of feet, including children’s feet. After all, they can get just as many foot problems as adults! Common problems include verrucae, in-growing toe-nails and “flat feet” as mentioned above . We always try to create a comfortable and friendly atmosphere so that the child dose not fee intimidated.
Children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult who can give consent for their treatment. If you have any queries regarding your child’s feet, please do not hesitate to speak to any member of our staff who will be able to advise you accordingly.
Most babies begin life with their toes pointing slightly out. However, if the unborn baby lies with its feet pressed against the womb the wrong way, it can be born with its feet turned inward. The condition can make learning to walk difficult. Tripping may be the first sign of toeing in.
Toeing in can often be corrected through stretching exercises. The podiatrist can teach parents some simple exercises that can help straighten out a baby’s feet. The exercises take a few minutes a day, and they are performed until the problem is corrected.
In some instances, plaster casts can be used to coax a baby’s feet back into a more normal position. Just as braces gradually reposition teeth, casts gradually reposition feet. The casts are changed periodically until the podiatrist determines that the feet are properly aligned.
Finding The Correct Shoe for Your Child
The wrong shoes can cause or aggravate incorrect foot ailments. The right shoes can often prevent, but cannot correct problems. So wearing the correct shoe is very important to your child’s foot health and a necessity for healthy development. Follow this checklist when you buy shoes for your child and be sure they measure up. This check list is good for you to and is not only for kids!
- Leather is best because is breathes like skin and moulds the foot. But cheaper canvas is fine for fast-growing children.
- Soles should be strong and flexible with a good gripping surface.
- Insoles should be cushioned to absorb the jolts of walking on hard surfaces.
- Arch supports distribute weight over a wider area but are better added by your podiatrists, the best shoe is a flat shoe. Rigid shanks also give added support.
- High heels are fun and look good, but they should not be worn by children. Besides cramping the toes, they change body posture, making backaches and knee more likely.
Many babies naturally appear flatfooted. Usually, this will disappear as the baby begins to stand and walk.
Children with flat feet, or low arches, may not be able to keep up with other children because of the added strain on feet and legs.
Orthotic devices can be used to maintain and or achieve a more correct foot support. They are made of plastic, carbon of a rubber compound and must be refitted as the child grows older. Orthotics help to realign the foot and distribute body weight more evenly.
HAVE PROBLEMS CHECKED
If you suspect any foot problems, have a podiatrist examine your child. You may spare your child further problems later in life!
SHOES FOR CHILDREN
Good shoes are especially important to avoid problems in developing feet.
- Because shoes serve only to protect children’s feet from injury, none are needed before a child walks.
- High-topped infant shoes do not support ankles – oxfords and tennis shoes are good.
- Check OFTEN to be sure shoes aren’t too small. Children’s feet are so flexible they can be crammed into shoes two sizes too small – and the child may not complain.
- Don’t have children wear hand-me-down shoes. They are permanently moulded to the original owner’s foot.
Unfortunately, most shoes today are narrower in the front than the foot is. You can check this by standing on paper and tracing around your child’s bare foot. Compare the outline of the foot with the sole of your shoe. If the shoe appears too narrow, you may be inviting foot problems. When buying shoes for yourself choose only shoes that feel comfortable – you are the best judge of that. Here are some pointers for your shoes:
THE RIGHT FIT
Only you can tell if shoes fit.
- If they aren’t comfortable, don’t buy them!
- Don’t plan on shoes stretching with wear. If you already own shoes that are too tight, ask your shoe repair shop if they can be stretched.
- Because feet spread with age, have your feet measured every time you buy shoes. Both feet should be measured as they are often different sizes. Always buy shoes for the BIGGEST foot.
- Go shoe shopping late in the afternoon. Feet swell to their largest then.
- Size depends on shoe make and style, too. Don’t insist you always wear one size if the next feels better.
- The toe box should be roomy enough so you can wiggle all your toes.
- Your forefoot should NOT be wider than your shoe.
- The heel should fit snugly and the instep should not gape open.
- If you can’t find shoes that fit, ask your podiatrist for advice.
Our feet have evolved for flexibility and strength, not to be crammed into shoes. When people roamed the earth barefoot 4,000 years ago, foot problems were not the rule. Today, we need shoes to protect our feet from cold, injury, disease rather than for comfort and function. Remember: good shoes are part of the good care you and your child’s feet need.