One minute, you’re watching your kid play a harmless game of soccer. The next minute, your child goes down on the field and doesn’t come back up. As the teammates, refs, and coaches gather around, you start to come down from the bleachers to meet them. It’s a scary thing when your kid gets injured during a football, soccer, or basketball game. At the McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group, we know how important children’s orthotics are for correcting foot alignment and preventing injuries.
Children’s orthotics aren’t talked about enough, especially among pediatricians. However, we hope that we can shed some light on the benefits of prescription inserts. These devices will slow the progression of whatever condition your child has, as well as prevent secondary problems from popping up.
How Orthotics Come Into Play
When your child has a poor foot structure like flat feet or high arches—which can be hereditary—the weight from each step is unequally distributed onto certain areas of the foot. With enough activity, and we all know kids get a lot, this pressure and stress can lead to pain. Orthotics for kids’ shoes are a good non-surgical way to prevent weak tendons, bones, and muscles that can cause further injury.
They align the foot and ankle, improve the function and range of motion, and correct, prevent, and accommodate any existing deformities. These features can prevent common problems like tendonitis, heel pain, shin splints, stress fractures, and bunions.
Rigid and Soft Types of Support
There are two types of children’s orthotics. A rigid orthotic is a good choice for someone with a flat-footed foot structure. These will control the motion of the feet and keep them from overpronating. Keep in mind that children will have flat feet when they’re born and usually develop their arches as they grow. They may never develop arches, and that’s OK. We will only suggest orthotics when their flat feet are giving them pain and creating secondary problems. A soft orthotic is more for high-arched feet. The cushion from this type of insert will absorb the shock when the foot hits the ground.
Arranging for an Insert
When you visit our office, we’ll take some time to look at your child’s feet before we prescribe an orthotic. After we observe walking style and examine his or her shoes, we’ll take some measurements of each foot and design a custom mold for your child’s exact foot structure.
Your kid may even like the new orthotics! Upon receiving a pair, he or she should work up a tolerance, gradually wearing the inserts on and off during the break-in period of two weeks or so. It’s normal to experience mild discomfort and soreness while the foot adjusts to the new supports. However, if your child is complaining of irritation from the heel cup being too large, or is having any other problems with the size, bring it back to the McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group so we can resize it for you.
Orthotics will usually last two to three years. They will have to be replaced as your child’s feet grow. It’s vital for kids to get new ones as they grow out of them, so that the orthotic can continue to control the foot’s position and keep it in a neutral stance.
Something can be done about your child’s foot pain! Book your appointment with Dr. Brian McDowell and Dr. Gavin P. Ripp at (916) 961-3434. We recommend a checkup for your children’s orthotics every year or so, just so we can make sure their feet are on track to developing into healthy and strong structures. Keep up with the McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group by following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!
Photo Credit: Stuart Miles