How to determine if your child has flat feet?

Other than examining the footprints, you can evaluate your child's foot health using three (3) key indicators: heel alignment, navicular bone protrusion, and foot arch collapse.

Parents, it's common to think that flat and wide footprints are a strong indicator of flat feet. It is not always that simple. The reason is that each child's foot is unique, and factors like their natural arch height and thickness of foot tissue can affect how their footprints look.

For example in 2 possible extreme situations, a child with naturally low arches and a freshy foot might leave flat-looking prints, while a child with skinny feet and normal arches might leave prints that seem like they have high arches.

That's why relying solely on footprints for diagnosis might not be accurate. To get a better understanding of your child's foot health, we also need to check their heel bone alignment and see if the bones in the middle of their feet (navicular bones) stick out. These extra checks help us get a better understanding of your child's foot health and whether we need to take any further steps.

  1. Are the heel bones still in straight alignment?

Let's start with a simple observation: take a look at your child's heel bone when they're standing barefoot. In a typical foot arch, the heel bone and the Achilles tendon should align vertically with the calf, forming a relatively straight line. However, in flat-footed individuals, you might notice that the heel bone and the Achilles tendon leans inward (pronates) excessively relative to the calf, causing the foot to roll inward and the arch to collapse.

This inward rolling motion can disrupt the natural alignment of the ankle joint and contribute to the appearance of arch flattening. To assess this, stand your child barefoot and observe their ankles from the front and back.

Hence, when assessing your child's feet for flattened arches, it's important to observe the alignment of the ankle joint. Here's what to look for:

Mild: In mild cases, the ankle alignment is still preserved. The heel bone and the Achilles tendon appear to align vertically with the calf, maintaining a relatively straight line.

Moderate: For moderate cases, the ankle alignment is slightly out. There may be a slight inward tilt of the heel bone and the Achilles tendon, indicating a mild pronation, and a slight deviation from the normal alignment with the calf.

Severe: In severe cases, the ankle alignment is obviously out of alignment. The heel bone may tilt inward significantly, causing the child to stand on the inner side of the heels. This pronounced inward tilt disrupts the natural alignment of the legs, indicating more severe pronation and potential issues with flat feet.

  1. Are the navicular bones protruding?

Now, let's focus on the navicular bone, it is a bone that you can palpate as a pointy bone which is located on the inside of the foot above the medial arch. In individuals with normal foot arch, the navicular bones are typically not prominently visible or palpable, as they are well supported by surrounding ligaments and tendons.

During your assessment, take note of the appearance of the navicular bones:

Mild: In mild cases, the navicular bones may only be slightly protruding. They may be noticeable upon closer inspection but not prominently visible and palpable.

Moderate: For moderate cases, the navicular bones protrude more obviously compared to mild cases. They may be more noticeable and prominent, indicating a more pronounced collapse of the foot arch.

Severe: In severe cases, the navicular bones are completely protruding and may even appear subluxated. They are highly visible and prominent, suggesting a significant collapse of the foot arch.

  1. Is the foot arch collapsing?

Finally, let's consider the overall shape of your child's foot arch. A typical foot arch should exhibit a noticeable curvature or rise along the inner border of the foot when standing barefoot. This curvature creates an arch shape that helps distribute weight evenly and absorb shock during activities like jumping or running.

In non-weight bearing (sitting) situations, gently lift your child's foot and examine the inner border for any signs of a collapsed arch. You can also gently press on the midfoot area to assess the resilience of the arch. If the arch collapses easily or is not present, it may suggest flat feet.

During weight-bearing (standing), observe your child's foot arch as they stand with their weight evenly distributed on both feet. Take note of any flattening or reduced curvature along the inner border of the foot. If the arch appears significantly reduced or completely flattened, it may indicate flat feet.

Mild: If the foot arch collapses while standing but is present when the child is sitting, and the ankle joints are still flexible, the condition may be considered mild. This means that the arch is still somewhat functional, but it flattens under the weight of the body. Restoration of the foot arch is relatively easy in this case.

Moderate: In moderate cases, the foot arch collapses while standing, and some pressing may be needed to recreate it while sitting. The ankle joints are semi-rigid, requiring greater effort compared to mild cases to restore the foot arch. Intervention may be necessary to address the pronounced flattening of the arch.

Severe: If the arch is completely absent both while standing and when pressing on the midfoot area while sitting, and the ankle joints are almost solidified, the condition may be considered severe. Restoration of the foot arch requires the greatest effort, and the results may not be optimal. Prompt evaluation and treatment by a healthcare professional are essential in severe cases.

To simplify understanding, visual representation may be difficult to convey this aspect. Instead, distinguish between mild and severe conditions by noting whether the arch remains present when standing (indicating mild) or whether it becomes flat or touches the ground (suggesting severe).

If you've noticed these signs in your child's feet and you're concerned, please know that we're here to support your child. At SpineCare Engineering, a biomedical engineering center, our mission is to improve children's gait and our vision is to ensure that childhood excitement becomes a lasting gift.

We believe every child deserves to experience the joy of a carefree childhood, just like their parents did. That's why we're dedicated to helping children restore their foot arch through specialized gait training.

Our approach focuses on empowering kids to move comfortably and confidently on their foot muscles, without relying on insoles. If you'd like to learn more or schedule a consultation session, feel free to reach out to us at 012-6865664.

Your child's well-being is our priority, and we're here to provide guidance and support every step of the way.

Leave a comment