Foot problems in children

Foot problems is something that many people suffer from, regardless of their age.  Some of these problems can be corrected; if it is noticed during the early stages of a child’s life.  Sometimes foot problems develop later in life, due to many reasons for example the type of shoes we wear, the way we walk, our weight, age and many other reasons.  In today’s blog post, I am going to look at foot problems affecting children and what to look out for.

Babies are born with more protective soft tissue, as well as more flexible bones and joints.  Walking barefoot is wonderful for babies, children and adults alike.  Allow them to be barefoot as often as possible.  Apart from good development, our feet need to breathe!  When you choose booties for your baby, make sure that it is not tight and provide warmth.  If it is too tight and/or too small, not only will it restrict circulation, but also development of the feet.  Blankets and the like, must also be draped in such a way that the baby can move around, otherwise development is restricted.  If your baby likes to sleep on his / her stomach, turn the baby around; also make sure that the nappy is not too bulky.  According to studies, a nappy that is too bulky could cause bowlegs.

Most importantly is not to force the child to walk.  No child is the same and each one develops at his / her own pace.  Even if there is only a couple of months difference, it makes a huge difference.  Children should never be compared to others (that includes their siblings), nor should they be forced to do something if they are not ready yet.  Parents need to remember that the so called “terrible 2’s” stage, is a difficult stage for many children, because their brain knows what to do, but the body is not always capable of doing it. 

If you are not sure whether or not your child has a problem, look out for the following:

Does he / she complain or dislike walking and/or running?

Does the walk seem peculiar?

Does he / she stumble or fall often?

Does he / she always take his / her shoes off?

Does the child’s head tilt to one side or the other?

Does one arm swing lower than the other?

Are the hips level or is the one slightly higher than the other?

Do the knees point inward (knock knees), outward (bowlegs) or are they pointing forward?

Does the child’s feet turn inward or outward?

Does the child walk more on his / her toes?

Do the arches of the feet appear very flat / high?

If you answered yes to any of these question, it is best to see a podiatrist as soon as possible.

Other things to look out for, is whether the child’s feet perspire excessively, the shape of the toes, bunions and/or other bony enlargements, if the child’s shoes are worn down more on one side, and if the child complains about pain, tiredness and/or discomfort caused by a shoe or being barefoot.  Parents, teachers, guardians and other adults, sadly, often tell the child that he / she is “dreaming” when he / she complains about something.  Other times children are scolded, for some bizarre reason! 

Children, especially the young ones, are very in tune with themselves and listen to their bodies…something adults should be doing more themselves!  Next time a child comes to you and complain about a shoe that is hurting, or a sock that is too tight, listen and help the child!  The earlier the child’s foot problem is solved, the better and in the long run, the child will have far less / no problems at all, as he / she ages.  Next week, I will delve deeper in to foot exercises for both young and old, that can be done anywhere, anytime!

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