Flat feet: exercises for children

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Catherine Le Nevez
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Flat feet are where your feet land on the ground. They are common and there is usually nothing to worry about. To see if you have flat feet, check the insides of your feet while standing. If you have flat feet, your feet will be flat on the ground. You don't have flat feet if part of your foot is off the ground (this is called an arch).



Flat feet usually don't need to be treated. You don't have to do anything if your child has flat feet because they don't cause any problems.


Flat feet:


  • they usually don't cause problems
  • it shouldn't stop you from doing any activities, including sports
  • they are rarely a sign of anything serious
  • in children, flat feet usually last until about 6 years of age.

In this article

  • Flat feet: what are they
  • Flat feet: symptoms
  • Flat feet: exercises

 



Read also: Flat feet, when to worry

Flat feet: what are they

People with flat feet have very low arch or no arch, which means that one or both feet may be flat on the ground. A human foot has 33 joints, which hold 26 different bones together. It also has over 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments.



The arches provide a spring to the step and help distribute body weight over the feet and legs. The structure of the arches determines the way a person walks. Arches need to be both strong and flexible to accommodate stresses and a variety of surfaces. When people have flat feet, their feet can roll inward when they are standing and walking. This is known as over pronation and can also cause the feet to point outward.

Flat feet: symptoms

The most common symptom of flat feet is foot pain. This can occur due to strained muscles and connecting ligaments. Abnormal stresses on the knee and hip can cause pain in these joints. 

Pain most commonly affects the following parts of the body:

  • inside the ankle, next to possible swelling
  • arch of the foot
  • knee
  • anca
  • lower back
  • lower legs

Flat feet can also cause uneven weight distribution. This can result in shoes wearing unevenly or more quickly than usual, especially on one side.

Flat feet: exercises

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) recommends the following exercises to improve the strength and flexibility of the feet and ankles, which can help relieve symptoms.

Heel cord lengthening

A tight Achilles tendon will encourage the foot to roll inward. The purpose of the heel cord stretch is to stretch the Achilles tendon and the hamstrings of the calf.

Stand facing a wall and put a hand on the wall at eye level. Place the leg to be stretched about a step behind the other leg and plant the heel firmly on the ground. Bend the knee of the front leg until you feel a stretch in the back leg.
Hold the position for 30 seconds and then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat nine more times. It is vital to avoid arching your back and keep it straight. Do this exercise twice a day.

The golf ball

This exercise requires a chair and a golf ball. Sit in the chair with your feet firmly on the ground. Place the golf ball under the foot and roll it back and forth under the arch of the foot for 2 minutes to stretch the plantar fascia ligament.

Balancing on one leg

With the support of a firm pillow, practice balancing each leg for 10-second intervals to challenge arch activation.

Tandem position

Stand with one foot in front of the other. Use colored tape for a useful visual cue to promote alignment.

Article sources: NHS, Healthline, aaos

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