Over 95% of children entering first grade suffer according to some studies from foot deformities. This number is alarming given to the fact that most newborn babies had during their birth healthy feet. In Czech republic are being born over 90% of children with healthy feet without orthopedic deformities. Worries of mothers for babies healthy development is rightly valid, healthy development of the feet should not be underestimated. Orthopedic deformities can be prevented. But you need to start early!
Only a small percentage of children are born with congenital defects. For illustration we can mention a defect known as congenital talipes equinovarus - club foot, is one of the most common defects of the foot. If there is no correction of such defect already in the infantile age, the child will be stepping solely on the inner side of the foot for the rest of the life, and the foot arches may not develop correctly. This defect could lead to formation of more orthopedic defects of the feet joints and subsequently problems concerning the spine.
Even though most children have after their birth healthy feet, they become damaged fairly soon.
CAUSES OF THE PROBLEMS
1) From a majority, the problem is caused by incorrectly chosen size of the shoe in toddler's age. But usually the size is ideal, but the shoe doesn’t fulfill the medical conditions for a healthy development of the child’s foot.
2) Another problem can be too tight socks, which do not enable the small toes to move freely. Small socks in some cases even press the bones of the toes, smaller bones and joint of the feet together. Such cases are appearing already in a toddler’s age.
Buy therefore only socks that are responding to the size of the foot of your child, so that the toes would have enough space and would never be suppressed. They should be from a clean cotton, so that they would soak in the sweat well enough. Count with it that after each washing is the cotton slightly shrinked, therefore it is better to rather buy socks which are one or two size bigger. The edge of the socks should be wide enough, so that when you take off the sock, there should be no sock marks choking the foot.
3) Some defects of the foot can form also from wearing shoes in the stroller. Unfortunately, some mothers that are trying to dress their children modernly and put on shoes on their children. These first shoes are not intended for walking. These shoes are more firm than socks and they restrict the foot to move freely. They also strengthen the whole joint system of the leg and they don’t enable the children to move their feet freely!
For a correct development of the children’s feet and their joints is necessary free movement between the single small joints of the foot.
BEWARE OF LACK OF MOVEMENT!
Lack of movement in toddler’s age and pre-school period, walking exclusively on a hard terrain and incorrect shoes (weight of the shoe, shape of the toe cap, firmness of the outsole etc.) have a proves negative effect on the development of the foot arch and formation of the flat foot or bunion and many other problems of the musculoskeletal system.
HOW TO SUPPORT THE HEALTHY DEVELOPMENT OF THE FOOT?
For a correct development of the foot is important sufficient amount of impulses - „proprioception”. As a proprioceptive stimulation can be considered also walking barefoot (alternatively walking in thin socks) on various materials.
In your area you will surely find cooler, smooth floating floor, cooler pavement or warmer, soft carpet. In summer make sure that your children can walk barefoot on the grass, smaller stones, sand, walking in the water, on slippery or rough surfaces. Be careful only of possible unpleasantness such as stinging insects or smaller injuries of the feet caused by sharper objects. Proprioceptive stimulation is unequivocally ideal also as a prevention against formation of the flat feet by children. For a correct development of the leg is stimulation of the foot with sufficient amount of impulses unconditionally necessary. If the foot has sufficient amount of impulses and good conditions for a healthy development, the foot arches are forming till the third year of the child. Before reaching this age, it is premature to evaluate the level of the foot arch and alternatively establish a diagnosis of flat foot (pes planus).
Some less civilized nations, which do not wear shoes, have relatively flat feet while standing, but when they are walking, both foot arches are lifted up. By people who wear shoes their all life, are the foot arches constantly lifted. The foot is due to constant wearing of the shoes losing its original function, and both foot arches are less flexible. The shoes then function as a splint. Professionally said: the short muscles of the feet (muscles close to the bones in the feet) are being involved in the activity after we start walking. If you want to do something against the flat feet by your child or even yourself, we definitely recommend to prevent it by sufficiently stimulating the feet. If you already suffer from flat feet, we recommend to start rehabilitating exercising, you can find description of that in the article „Evaluating flat feet and its correction”.
The foot is generally functioning as a spring dampening the impacts of the foot landing on the ground, and the arches are crucial for the functionality of the foot. The foot has a significant effect on the stability during standing, walking and running. The rigid direct impact on the heel can lead to fractures on the heel bone, damage of the knees, hip joints and spine.
THE TRANSVERSE AND LONGITUDINAL ARCHES OF THE FOOT
The longitudinal arch of the foot is depicted on the picture A, and the transverse arch on the picture B. the foot arch is supporting the foot similarly as a arch by a bridge construction. Collapsed foot arch is a civilisational disease called „flat foot”. Flat foot can cause physical problems in the whole musculoskeletal system of the human. An example can be even headaches similar to migraines.
- Evaluating flat foot and its correction
- Do you know according to which criteria to choose shoes for your children?
Published in magazine Uzlíček, no: 2/2007
Author: Mgr. Iva Bílková, FYZIOklinika fyzioterapie Ltd, Prague, Czech Republic