Are Flat Feet Normal in Kids?

Are Flat Feet Normal in Kids?

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

In this article, we will discuss children with flat feet, and how to encourage proper foot development.

Foot development

The main arch of the foot, the medial longitudinal arch, begins to form at three to four 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 seven to 10 years of age (Uden et al., 2017).

This means that we should expect our children’s feet to be flat during their first three to four years, and to then start developing an arch over the next seven or so years. Some factors that can affect foot development include poor-fitting shoes – shoes that are too small, too big, or too rigid – and not enough barefoot time at home.

Kids Flat Feet

What about Flat Feet?

Children with 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. On the other hand, 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.

At PlayWorks Physio, there are multiple reasons we see children with flat feet:

Their walking pattern is different

For example, if they do not push off from their big toe, but instead they use the inside of the foot.

Complaints of foot or knee pain

If your child is experiencing foot or lower leg pain, a Canadian Certified Pedorthist at Kintec can assess their biomechanics and perform a gait analysis to learn more about how the mechanics in their feet are affecting the alignment in their legs.

Bunion development on the inside of the foot

bunion, also known as hallux valgus, is a deformity of the big toe and the big toe joint that can be quite painful. Poor foot mechanics and improperly-fitting footwear are some key contributors to bunion development.

Frequent rolling of their ankles

Pronation is the natural movement of the foot as it rolls inward. While there is a big misconception that pronation is bad, it’s actually a necessity in the gait cycle, to absorb shock. Too much pronation, or just overpronation, can cause malalignment. Which, in turn, can cause foot pain.

Complaints their feet are tired or sore after activity

Sore feet and legs aren’t normal in any situation.  When we spend more time on our feet, we increase the load on our muscles and joints. This can help over-use injuries and musculoskeletal disorders development.

Kids Flat Feet

How To Encourage Proper Foot Development

Here are some things you can do to help your children’s feet develop properly.

Find properly fitting shoes

Look for shoes with a supportive heel cup and flexible sole.

Encourage barefoot time

When it’s safe and appropriate, have your child walk around barefoot. Doing this helps develop the muscles, ligaments and tendons of their feet and will contribute to arch development.

Play around and walk on different types of surfaces

This can include grass, hills, trails, gravel, sand, and other surfaces.

Talk to a Specialist!

If you have any questions about your child’s foot development, feel free to send us a message!

Lindsay Eriksson, Kate Heays & Maegan Mak
The PlayWorks Team


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

    July 10, 2020 at 10:21 pm Reply

    Thanks for sharing good information.
    My son cannot run very fast inspite of the fact that he is fast otherwise in everything. He has quite a flat feet.
    But I am not sure if it will change over the years.
    Is this normal.
    Doi habe to get him some special shoes.
    Pls advice

    • Michael Ryan - Director of R&D

      July 22, 2020 at 1:57 pm Reply

      Hi Sushila,
      Flat feet can make longer distance running more challenging, but there are certainly ways to overcome the loss of stability that flatter bring have. He probably doesn’t need special footwear, but you will likely find that he performs better in some shoes over others. We’d be happy to discuss in more detail with a free 15-min consult that you can book here:

  • kromani

    October 10, 2020 at 3:53 am Reply

    Thank you for sharing good information.This information really helps us to know about flat feet in detail. Just because of flat feet people faced many problems. I would like to suggest the use of insoles for children also so that they can be away from feet problem.

    • Michael Ryan - Director of R&D

      November 23, 2020 at 12:06 pm Reply

      Thanks for your suggestion – and we certainly agree that insoles can make a difference in supporting little feet. It is always a good idea to have your kids’ feet assessed by a pedorthist who has training to determine whether or not your child will benefit from additional support. See our book now page to see one of our pedorthists:

  • Roham Khoshgoo

    November 22, 2020 at 11:35 am Reply


    My son is 6 years old has flat feet and runs slowly and when going up the stairs he puts one foot at a time and need to hang on to the handrails. Sometimes he complains nee pain. Please advise.

    • Michael Ryan - Director of R&D

      November 23, 2020 at 12:16 pm Reply

      Hello Roham – It sounds like it might be best for your son to come in and see one of our Canadian certified pedorthists to have a more detailed look at your son’s biomechanics and posture. You can easily arrange that online by going to:

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