Children’s orthopedic shoes: when are they necessary?

In most cases, it is not a question of malformations, but of the normal evolution of the feet. Find out when orthopedic shoes are really necessary for children.

Last update: November 28, 2021

Do you notice that your little one has flat feet or curved legs? If you are under a year and a half, this is not the time to worry and believe that you need children’s orthopedic shoes now. All children have flat feet and crooked legs; this presentation is related to the uterine environment.

Since the 90s, the use of these shoes has declined by investigations that confirm that what was corrected were not malformations, but part of the natural evolution of the foot. For many specialists, only true lower limb problems are corrected with therapies and ultimately surgery.

However, if something worries you in your legs or knees, do not forget to go to the specialist or podiatrist. If there is pain, with insoles or splints and with constant medical observation, the feet will achieve their correct position. Read on to find out when children’s orthopedic shoes are really necessary.



Frequent cases of observation

Experts recommend that children walk barefoot to promote good foot development.

Current protocols do not immediately recommend the use of children’s orthopedic shoes. Rather, they advocate observation to give the child time to grow and develop.

Many “malformations” of yesteryear disappeared with time and not because of the beneficial effect of orthotics. Among the frequent difficulties, the following stand out: flat feet, appendage on the inside of the foot or bowed legs.

Flat or “flattened” foot

The baby’s foot has a layer of fat that covers the plantar arch. This is because the ligaments are lax and give the appearance of a flat foot. Therefore, given this condition and not to be confused with an anomaly, it would be appropriate to speak of a “flattened” foot.

For example, flexible flat feet do not warrant children’s orthopedic shoes, but rather rehabilitation exercises. Rigid flat feet would require treatment and, in some cases, surgery. Contrary to flat feet, cavus feet show a wider plantar arch than normal.

Knees in or out

For its part, It is normal for many children between 18 and 24 months to have genu vring (knees apart) or genu valgo, that is, the knees together between 3 and 5 years. The latter accompanied by the galvo feet, when the heel is oriented outwards and the foot rests on the inside. The vast majority of these problems will spontaneously correct themselves as part of your bone development.

Get comfortable in W

Does the child put his feet in or does he sit drawing a W? This is part of the growth process and flexibility that is expressed in femoral anteversion and tibial torsion. But, if after 8 years of age the feet stumble or step and put the child’s gait at risk, surgical intervention would be evaluated.

Blount’s disease

Finally, Blount’s disease is a growth disorder of the tibia that causes the legs to curve outward. As the curvature is normal up to 3 years, medical control and treatment is required when instead of being corrected over time, it increases.

To wear orthopedic shoes or not: the dilemma

Between 18 months and 4 years, orthopedic treatment is unnecessary. Ligament laxity causes stumbling in gait and musculoskeletal weakness, but it will be more related to little practice than to the flat foot. Be patient and encourage him, let him walk barefoot on the beach and play fetch with his feet. If all is well, between the ages of 6 and 8 the arch will be formed.

Made to measure children’s orthopedic shoes meet a therapeutic need, but also an aesthetic requirement. They will be effective as long as the treatment is followed regularly. However, in most cases there is no need for children’s orthopedic shoes because the feet are in full formation at least until they are seven or eight years old.

It is the podiatrist who has the last word, but you can do these tests if you think it deserves it:

  • Raise the big toe of your child and if the heel appears with a normal shape, you are faced with a flexible flat foot that will subside over time. This maneuver is known as Jack’s Test.
  • The other possibility is to perform the Heel Rise Test: if when standing on tiptoe, the foot corrects, then it is a flat foot that will not go beyond seven years

If flexible feet appear, but with unusual presence of pain, the use of insoles will be resorted to, always under podiatric recommendation, which will alleviate discomfort and provide comfort.

When are children’s orthopedic shoes necessary?

Most foot problems resolve over time or with the use of insoles.

This shoe is oriented in children with descent of the internal longitudinal arch with valgus ankles that cannot be corrected in the normal course of time. Likewise, when there is a difference in the length of the lower extremities.

Equinus in the foot (or clubfoot, known as “clubfoot”) needs to be compensated with orthopedics to relieve symptoms. Proceed with high, laced boots.

In the case of amputations, the shoes allow to establish the length of the foot and guarantee a better and more stable gait. Finally, if you have a hanging pendulum foot or bone deformities that hinder good plantigrade gait.



Walking barefoot on the beach, the best therapy

Between seven and eighteen months, the baby will begin the adventure of walking on his own. To do it safely, you will need a shoe with a round or square toe with good grip and a flexible sole with no more than 3 millimeters of rubber. Overall, a soft, flexible shoe that fits smoothly and keeps the heel in.

Of course, nothing will be better for the maturity of your foot muscles than walking barefoot as long as possible in a well-kept environment. Shoes at this stage are essential to protect you from injury, not to help you walk.

Stiff and tight shoes can cause deformity and affect mobility. Only if there is pain or discomfort linked to abnormalities in your feet do you go to the podiatrist to assess the situation. A good part of the difficulties remit with time, rehabilitation or adequate templates for the case.

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