Do all orthopedic shoes for children for flat feet treatment have the same features? If not, what are the basic things to look for to make sure one is purchasing a quality pair of orthopedic shoes for children?
When flat feet in kids cause pain and difficulty, a podiatrist or therapist may recommend one or a combination of treatment possibilities. (Check our post on How to Treat Flat Feet in Children to learn more). One of the simpler and more basic of these is the use of orthopedic shoes. Orthopedic shoes for kids are not just about arch support. The whole idea is to have comfortable footwear that hugs each foot well and prevents slippage, without being uncomfortably tight. They also give proper support in strategic places to lessen foot and ankle stress and promote proper posture.
Depending on the kind of foot problems present, the doctor may recommend custom-made shoes or inserts, or off-the-shelf (prefabricated) orthotic shoes, which are more affordable. These specialised shoes for flat feet treatment in children have the following features:
Supportive Elastic Outsoles
Look for outsoles made of elastic material that reduces impact on feet. They are flexible but firm enough and do not bend in half.
Strong Heel Counters
The part that wraps around the heel is firm yet comfortable enough to keep the heel and Achilles area in place without abrasion. Extra padding or Achilles tendon support may be added at the rim for better fit. Minimal movement inside the shoe is okay but the heel should not come in and out of the shoe. Therefore, the heel counters should not be flimsy and formless.
Great Arch Supports
These help lessen the tension in the posterior tibial tendon or the tendon, which “connects the calf muscle to the bones of the instep” and “runs from the ankle to the bottom of the foot”. Arch supports in children orthotics prevent further stretching of tendons and loose (lax) ligaments that may cause chronic pain.
Thomas heel or extended heel provides support to the strongest of the three arches of the foot. The few millimetres extension heightens the central part of the shoe and influences weight distribution.
Children orthopedic shoes have cushioned insoles especially at the heel. These contribute to faster ankle plantar flexion, or that movement when one is moving forward and one’s heel lifts off the ground. Consequently, knee movement is also reduced.
Adjustable closure like Velcro straps or laces tighten the pressure above the foot. This in turn lessens the pressures on the bottom.
Flat feet treatment through orthopedic shoes for children does not mean that feet abnormalities can be altered or that arches can be formed with the use of these. However, orthotic shoes can help provide the much-needed support while feet and legs go through therapy for strengthening. They can also greatly reduce symptoms like pain and tension on the foot, legs and back. First Walkers provide off-the-shelf orthopedic shoes for children, including toddler sandals and sneakers for girls and boys.