There is a lot of controversy in the industry on whether or not to fit a child with a pair of custom-made foot orthotics. Depending on the age of your child, foot orthotics may not be recommended. A child who is just starting to walk until about age five to seven-years-old, should not be placed into a pair of orthotics, or any type of support. At this point, the foot is developing from its baby foot to its naturally developed foot type. It is only after the child has been complaining of foot and lower limb pain should orthotics be considered.
Orthotics can help children by providing additional support and a solid foundation to their feet and legs. They can make activity more comfortable but also help stabilize children’s feet and lower limbs as they grow. Orthotics can also help relieve pain caused by injury or unusual alignment of the bones of the foot. Children who are experiencing growing pains or other bio-mechanical problems such as Sever’s disease, Osgood-Schlatter’s disease or juvenile rheumatoid arthritis can also benefit.
For all children, whether or not they need orthotics, I always recommend buying shoes that fit perfectly. It’s never a good idea to buy shoes that a child will grow into. A shoe that is too big allows for a sloppy fit and poor support, which may aggravate or even cause foot problems. And please don’t use hand-me-down shoes for your child, as a wear pattern, already created from the previous child, will not properly support your child’s unique foot shape and needs.
My main rule of thumb is, if the child is experiencing any pain or discomfort, which can sometimes be expressed as a lack of willingness to run around and play, then you should consult your doctor and your Canadian Certified Pedorthist to see if pedorthic treatment will help.