Are Flat Feet Normal in Kids?

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Did you know that almost everyone is born with flat and flexible feet? In their first year, babies’ feet grow extremely fast – about 2.5cm! As children get older and start walking, their feet are still flat because the bones, muscles and ligaments are not yet fully developed.

 

Foot development

The main arch of the foot, the medial longitudinal arch, begins to form at 3-4 years of age. This arch continues to develop throughout the first 10 years of life and many studies state that the mature foot posture is not obtained until 7-10 years of age (Uden et al., 2017). This means that we should expect our children’s feet to be flat during their first 3-4 years and to then start developing an arch over the next 7 or so years.

 

Factors that can affect foot development

  • Poor fitting shoes: too small, too big, too rigid
  • Not enough barefoot time at home

 

What about those Flat Feet?

Flat feet aren’t always problematic. As you can see from above, younger kids tend to have naturally flatter feet and therefore treatment is not always necessary. If your child goes up on their tiptoes you should be able to see their arch form. This is considered “flexible flat feet”. These should not be painful. Ultimately painful flat feet in kids are a problem and non-painful, flat feet in children (or adults!) are not a problem and do not need to be treated unless they are accompanied by any of the points listed below.

 

Here are some reasons why we see kids at PlayWorks Physio for flat feet:

  • Their walking pattern is different. For example, if they do not push off from their big toe, instead they use the inside of the foot
  • Complaints of foot, ankle or knee pain
  • Bunion development on the inside of the foot
  • Frequent rolling of their ankles
  • Complaints of their feet getting tired or sore after activity
  • Excessive pronation (collapsing inwards) of feet

 

Things you can do to encourage proper foot development in your kids

  • Find properly fitting shoes. Look for shoes with a supportive heel cup and flexible sole. CLICK HERE  to learn how to pick the best shoes for your child.
  • Have your child barefoot when safe/appropriate. This helps develop the muscles, ligaments and tendons of their feet and will contribute to arch development.
  • Play around with walking on different types of surfaces. For example: grass, hills, trails, gravel, sand etc.

 

If you have any questions about your child’s foot development, email us at hello@playworksphysio.com

 

Written by: The PlayWorks Team

 

References: Uden et al. Journal of Foot and Ankle Research (2017) 10:37

Learn to Skate: 6 Tips to Get You and Your Kids On The Ice

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Do you want your kids to learn to skate, but are too afraid of the ice yourself to teach them? Here are 6 key steps for you and your kids to conquer skating.

  1. Figure Skate Vs. Hockey Skate

There are two main types of skates: figure skates and hockey skates. Knowing which to choose can be difficult so here are the main differences: A figure skate has a flat blade and usually a pick at the front of the blade. This means you won’t rock like you do in hockey skates, but watch out for the toe pick! It may cause you to trip if you forget about it. A hockey skate is generally black or grey and has a curved blade. If you don’t plan on becoming a figure skater or hockey player, it doesn’t matter which skate you choose. It comes down to which one you are most comfortable in.

  1. The Right Size Skate

The wrong size runner can cause you to trip over your own feet. The same rule applies to skates. If the skate is too big, your weight will primarily be on the back of the blade, making it easier to fall backwards. Skates are sized differently so when you try on a pair, line up your foot next to the skate. If there is more than an inch of extra room, it is too big. Your toes should be snug, but not squished.

  1. Protect Your Head and Knees

Helmets are a must! Whether you’re someone who has skated their entire life or just starting out, helmets are your best friend. Everyone can and will fall and it is super important to protect yourself. I suggest beginners should wear knee pads and gloves as well. The ice is cold and hard, but when you have the right gear, it is much less likely you will get hurt when you fall.

  1. Get to Know the Ice – Stand, Fall, Walk

Everyone’s first instinct when they get on the ice is to go fast. The first step to skating is simple – Walk. Skates can wobble, so you have to take it slow at first. Arms out for balance, bend your knees and keep your head up. If you can remember these 3 rules, you are well on your way. Practice falling down with hands out in front (to prevent going backwards) and stand up using your knee to push yourself up.

  1. Penguin Pushes

Once walking has become a piece of cake, the next step is to turn your toes out and try to push back. This is called a push-glide, or otherwise known as the penguins pushes. You can make your push-glide stronger by pushing someone or something on the ice.

  1. Learn to Stop

Snow plows are the first step to learning to stop without using the boards or another person. Put your feet together and glide first, then push both your feet out at the same time. Keep your arms up for balance at all times. Progress to one foot stops when this gets easier.

Once these essential skills are mastered, everything else will come easily. Next steps include backwards skating, one foot glides, crossovers, turns and many more fun skills!

Written by: Kylie Shorter, BKin

 

Create Your Child’s Play Zone

Your home is your baby’s safe zone, where they are comfortable exploring, (throwing tantrums?), and learning new skills. Creating a space with a few key elements can foster and facilitate not only their gross motor development but their sensory, vestibular and fine motor skills as well.

An ideal zone will let you place your baby down knowing that they can move around freely and touch everything in it safely. The more motivated they are to explore their environment, the more they will experiment with their movement to get them around. This play zone encourages their independence, interaction with the environment and makes learning new motor skills fun. The best part is that you do not have to go out and buy anything, just get creative with what you already have! Read on to learn about some of the best tips for making this space for your kids.

Creating A  Play Zone

Vary the Heights

One of the best things you can do is provide lots of different surfaces for crawling over, climbing up, pulling up and standing. Couch cushions, coffee tables, seats and sturdy chairs are all great options!

Baby Proof a Little

Make sure you cover the outlets and pad sharp corners, but don’t take out every possible risk. It’s important for kids to land on their bums, slip on the floor and experience small missteps. They don’t need 5 inch padding everywhere! Give them some carpeted or a matted area for being comfortable on the floor but provide some hard surfaces for better stability too

Building Blocks

Give them lots of things they can move and stack, both big and small. This will help them work their engineering minds and be creative. Use toy stackers, cups, cardboard boxes, recycled containers or anything you can think of that is safe for children.

Get Wild!

Include lots of bright colours and as many different textures as you can. Especially for young kids we want them to explore new things and be stimulated. Encourage bare feet to optimize sensory exploration and muscle building.

No Screens!

These do not promote development, are over-stimulating and take away imagination. Opt for non-electronic toys that have moving parts and encourage interaction with them. Some noise-makers are still great, but if you can, choose ones that are more simple and promote some experimenting and exploration (buttons, switches, knobs and more).

Get in the Zone

The purpose is not to leave your child alone, but to have a space where they are allowed to touch/lick/drool on everything. Teach them to use the space by getting in and playing both with them and side-by-side independently so they can model your play.

By Laura Kennedy from Move Paediatric Therapy

5 Challenges to try on the Playground

Playgrounds are a great place for kids to improve gross motor skills, strength and confidence.There are lots of things you can have your child try when they are on the playground to provide different challenges. Often times, kids will gravitate to the areas of the playground that are easiest for them. Incorporating other playground equipment or ideas into their play is a great way to physically challenge them, bring awareness to other ways to use play structures and be a fun task for both of you!

5 Things to Try

  1. Balancing along the edge of the playground, often times there is a border to the play area you can walk along.
    Walk forwards/backwards/sideways
  1. Climbing down a ladder rather than going down a slide or fireman’s pole. Kids typically master climbing up, however have difficulty climbing down.
  2. Hanging from monkey bars if fully completing them is too challenging. Monkey bars are difficult! As a stepping stone to learning how to achieve the monkey bar goal you can assist your child in hanging from one of the bars and set a time goal, such as 5 seconds.
  3. Sideways up the stairs to challenge different muscles. Going up the stairs sideways is another way to get to where they want to go, AND you are strengthening different leg muscles! Make sure to try both directions.
  4.    Climbing up slides is a great way to target back, leg muscles and core! Make sure you get to the park early to try this one out, so you have the slide to yourself.

You can also try a more hands-off approach at the playground to allow your child to explore on their own limits. This can be a fun way for them to challenge themselves and experiment with different ways of play. We hope you have fun trying these out during your next park adventure!

Happy Playing!

Maegan Mak & Kate Heays