What is flat foot in children?

The term flat foot refers to a condition where the foot lacks an arch. It is common to see low arches or flat feet in very young children because they are loose-jointed and flexible, which allows the arches of the feet to mould to a flat position when standing. Flat feet will not necessarily cause symptoms.

The arch on the inside of the foot may begin to develop from four years of age, and should be developed by the age of six. Most children will eventually develop a normal arch, however some children may develop permanent flexible flat foot. It is also important to differentiate flexible flat foot from other more serious problems (eg, bony deformity, rigid flat foot).

How is flat foot treated?

The treatment of flexible flat foot varies depending on the age of the child. Before the age of ten, flexible flat foot is not considered permanent and treatment will focus on encouraging normal arch development and preventing pelvic and spinal postural problems. To achieve this, treatment may include advice on strengthening exercises and recommendations for supportive footwear.

Some flat feet can not be treated with off-the-shelf shoes alone. In these cases, an in-shoe orthotic may be recommended to assist with proper functioning of the feet.

Does my child need treatment?

If you are at all concerned about the cause or type of flat foot in your child, a podiatry assessment is recommended in order to rule out or diagnose any problems and provide appropriate advice.