Ask a Podiatrist – Flat Feet in Children

Jan 23rd, 2008 by keelyh | 20 Comments So Far

Reader Question:

Dear HealthyFeetStore.com Blog,
I am the mother of a 3 1/2 year old boy. His left leg pronates more than his right and his right foot seems to be flatter than the other one. When I ask him to put his ankles together for me his left knee sticks inward. I’ve heard that children’s feet often pronate and that this tends to correct itself as children get older, but I’m worried that he may have flat feet because his father and grandfather have them.

What I wanted to ask was do I need to get my son orthotics or special shoes?

Can he wear sandals? I do not want to get anything that is flat and it seems all of the sandals made for kids have absolutely no arch support in them.

Any advice you could give me would be helpful. Thank you.

Podiatrist Jeff Hurless’ Answer:

Pronation is a normal motion in the hindfoot. Flat feet is a condition caused by excessive pronation. Excessive pronation also causes increased internal rotation of the lower leg bones – the tibia and the fibula; which can, in turn, place abnormal strain on the knee. You are right that it is a little too early to tell if your son’s excessive pronation will correct itself. The arch of a child’s foot has the ability to continue to develop up to approximately age seven. However, with your family’s history of having flat feet (your father and your grandfather), there is a high likelihood that your son will have flat feet as an adult.

Now, to treat or not to treat a child with asymptomatic flat feet?

I believe the answer to that is very clear: treat. One of my own three children has flat feet and there is no way I would let him go without arch supports throughout his childhood and years of development. The treatment that I recommend is simply wearing arch supports and “good” shoes. The word, “good” to me means extra supportive. The problem with a flat foot is that the foot lacks its normal intrinsic support system. So, the body uses other muscles, tendons, and bones to compensate for this lack of support. If we use shoes and arch supports to supplement the foot, then the need for compensation is reduced. The years of compensating for a foot structure abnormality is what causes problems later in life.

My recommendation for your son would be the Asics GT 2120 or Asics GT 2130 (we don’t carry it yet, but Zappos.com does) for every day normal “boy” play time and for a dressier look any of our Keeping Pace Boy’s Leather Dress / Casual Shoe. Our best selling arch support for children is the Pedag Bambini. As for children’s sandals that are “good for feet”, those have always been a very challenging category, but I would recommend the Naot Santa Cruz.

Thanks for sending your question. Best wishes for both you and your son.

Would you like to ask a podiatrist? Send your foot or shoe question to HealthyFeetStore_Content_Writer at yahoo dot com.

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20 Comments on “Ask a Podiatrist – Flat Feet in Children”


  1. chesterdog said:

    I am a male 46 yrs old and 50lbs over weight. I have started a walking/jogging program but I want to know what is the best running shoe for me to be wearing that will have less impact on my legs


  2. Parejas said:

    Your post Ask a Podiatrist – Flat Feet in Children | HealthyFeetBlog.com was very interesting when I found it over google on Sunday by my search for foot care. I have your blog now in my bookmarks and I visit your blog again, soon. Take care. Parejaspareja.es


  3. Pablo Nuñez said:

    Please, where orthopedic sneakers?. For a girl of 9 years.
    If you know where?.
    Please anybody help me?.
    Thanks and regards


  4. peggy springs said:

    I have a narrow heel with a wider ball area. How should I order. I am having a lot of trouble with the ball of my foot. No Morton’s Neuroma was found on MRI but inflammation was. It really hurts. Can you help?


  5. Cindy said:

    I have a very active 5 year old boy that is severly flat footed on both feet. Lately while he runs and plays with other kids he stops and cries because his legs hurt. When you ask him where he more or less describes shin splints. Is there something we can do so he can stay an active child? Is there a special shoe he can wear? I always make sure I buy him shoes with support but it not seem to be enough. I would appreciate any help. Thanks!!!


  6. amandas said:

    Please see a doctor (preferably podiatrist or a foot/ankle specialist) immidiately if your child cries due to pain. A doctor will be able to help you.


  7. eric said:

    I ave a 10 yr old daughter with flat feet. She is dying to wear sandal but do not like the sandals with built in orthodics. I attempted to purchase arch support insole but I am not sure if this is the way to go. I am praying that I can purchase custom insole for her to wear with sandals. can any on advise or point me in the right directions. She’s tearing my heart she wants to wear them so bad. She won’t wear them everyday or for extremely long periods of time. Thank you for you time


  8. joy said:

    hi my son has a flat feet and we went to a foot doctor and took some xrays and found nothing is broken so that’s good things and he recommand that we do some therapy and we did but i didn’t see any notice so i need know please if you have that might work. My son was a toe walker when he was younger. Now he is 12 years old. He has tight calves. when he walks his feet goes out . He wears good shoes too. Please gives us some ideas i’m willing to try anything to fix his feet. Thank you very much. Have a nice day. And please do let us know.


  9. lisa said:

    Hi my daughhter got flat feet. Is there anything i can buy to help her wv them pls


  10. gen said:

    Hi, my daughter has excessively narrow (smaller then Narrow on the Stride Rite measuring guide) feet for her age (4yrs). In addition, she also have flat feet. When she stands and you look at her from behind, her ankles fall inwards, alot. She has a very small heel and when trying to find sandals that will fit her, my problem is that her heel with slide from side to side within the footbed of the sandal. She has no stability in anything that I’ve tried. She presently wears a size 12 but will need a 13 for summer. As a baby, her first walking shoes were ecco booties and I kept her in that until she grew out of their booties, which was quite early as her feet grew rapidly. She’s mostly worn ecco’s but had one pair of Geox last spring and nike’s for daycare since the fall. As we’ve been trying on shoes and sandals recently, I noticed that her “flat feet” problem seems to have worsen and her foot has become narrower, or at least has not widened as it lengthened. I manage to find a pair of ecco bioms which seems narrow enought to fit her well but am having problems finding a sandal. What would you suggest? Should I put insoles in her ecco’s and should I consult a podiatrist? Thank you!


  11. Administrator said:

    gen – I emailed you some suggestions. Let me know if you need anything else.


  12. Administrator said:

    If she is not experiencing any discomfort she may be fine. You can also try a kids arch support insole.


  13. Lynae said:

    I have a daughter 6 years old. She currently wears a size 12 shoe. I’ve noticed that she pronates pretty significantly on both feet and has flat feet as well. She has started complaining of her ankles and her knees hurting when we walk for a decent amount of time. I am wondering what would be the best shoes and supports for her. She has a somewhat narrow foot, in that I have had to purchase adjustable strap shoes to keep her foot from slipping out of the shoes. The other issue is that we are currently living overseas, so I need to either be able to purchase them via the internet or have a way of finding them on the German economy. Any input would help. Does she need to be evaluated by a podiatrist?


  14. Lynae said:

    My 6 year old girl is starting to complain of her ankles and knees hurting when we walk for any distance. She is flat footed and I’m wondering what would be the best shoe products for her. We are overseas, so I’m hoping to glean some knowledge as to what would be the best for her growing feet and prevent any long-term damage that I can purchase online or in Germany. Any help would be wonderful, thank you!


  15. ROCHELLE said:

    Hi. My nearly six year old has severly flat feet. He’s never been that great on his feet when he was young always falling over etc. He has just started rugby this season and I have noticed he has started falling over. He just collapses, like his ankles roll in or something. Is this a likely to stem from flat feet? He has also pushed his rugby boots out of shape, the centre area has become very wide.
    I am going to get him some shoes with support built in but would you suggest I take him to a doctor?
    Any feedback would be great. Thanks.


  16. S j Stuesser said:

    My son has special needs, is hearing impaired,and is now 25 years old. For some time he seems to be walking on his ankles. Because of his other challenges, this was not addressed when he was younger. What do you suggest, what are our option? The good news he run in spec. olympics and walks pretty well. Thanks.


  17. leah said:

    my daughter is almost 4yrs old and she has flat feet and recently i have noticed that her knees are touching causing her legs to look like they goin to snap backwards. she falls all the time. several times. she just gets right back up amd goes on about her business. im worried this is a problem can you help me. or do i meed to go ahead and send her to a pediatrist?


  18. Administrator said:

    Hi Leah – Thanks for you comment. We recommend you take your child to her pediatrician.


  19. Administrator said:

    I would recommend checking with a podiatrist about the problem. Hope that helps.


  20. Latonua said:

    My daughter is 4 And is complaining of foot problems. I took her to the Dr and they said it is because her feet are really flat.

    I am looking for a good shoe to help the problem, do you have any suggestions of a shoe to help with flat feet pain?

    The Dr recommended (primary care Dr) Stride Rite SRT shoe..

    Any help will be appreciated?