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Incorrect posture, flat feet in children

Good Posture for Children

Posture is the ability of the body to control its position in space against the forces of the external world. Posture is both static (sitting in one position) and dynamic (maintaining balance).

You may have heard of proprioception or not, but that is basically how good is your body awareness. Are you clumsy or do you seem to have cat like reflexes and glide through looking strong & well?

Childhood posture is a subject more and more parents are taking an interest. Good posture is very important in the pre-school child. We take a deeper look into the subject for you below.

Posture Development

During the first four years of life there is a rapid growth and increase in postural responses, which regresses until adult postural reflexes are reached at the age of 7-10 years old. Hence, the understanding is that the most training in static posture and its dynamic reflexes occurs during the early pre-school years of life.

This happens to be whilst spinal development is also growing at such a rapid rate. Chiropractic is a profession that focuses on the nerves, muscles and joints (in particular the spine) of the body, and so considers posture to be important. Stress on the body and spine, in terms of poor static posture, can create a lot of bad habits that can impact on the way a child grows and their long term postural state.

Postural habits can start from the newborn, depending how long they spend in the car seat and buggy seat. It creates a constricted space and static restricted position.

Studies have shown that low back pain often begins in childhood, with 10 percent of 9-10 year olds suffering from it, with poor posture being one of the main causes. They have also shown that training in good posture from an early age does decrease the prevalence of low back pain in children.

What Causes Poor Posture

Poor posture can result from a combination of 5 reasons:

  1. Central nervous system disorders,
  2. Peripheral nervous system disorders,
  3. Eye problems,
  4. Ear problems,
  5. Musculoskeletal system problems.

What is a flat foot?

The sole of the foot has an arch on the inner side (instep) that extends from the heel to the base of the big toe. The foot is called flat when it does not have this arch.

What is the cause of flat feet in children?

Many people have a long-standing belief that flat feet are abnormal and require treatment with special shoes, insoles or even splints or braces.

We now know that the majority of children between 1-5 years of age have flat feet. This is part of normal development of their feet and over 95 percent of children grow out of their flat feet and develop a normal arch. The other 5 percent continue to have flat feet, but only a small number will ever have a problem. Most children with a persistent flat foot participate in physical activities, including competitive sports, and experience no pain or other symptoms.

Very rarely, there can be an underlying problem. The doctor examining the child will check for these and plan ongoing care. Older children with painful or stiff flat feet and children who had initially normal arches and develop flat feet later require particular attention.

Is any treatment required?

Studies involving large numbers of children have shown that treatment with special shoes, insoles or splints does not alter the shape of the foot and does not give them an arch.

The great majority of children under the age of five with a flat foot develop an arch in time without the use of insoles. Some children wear their shoes unevenly. Occasionally a small shoe insert may help - it will not alter the shape of the foot but may reduce shoe wear.

When flat feet persist in children after the age of five years and they complain of pain in their feet, treatment with insoles / arch supports is used more often to alleviate discomfort.

In rare cases, young teenagers with persisting symptoms may require surgery. Children who are found to have additional problems causing their flat feet may also require an operation.

What is the outcome?

Flat feet are part of normal development in the vast majority of young children and have no long-term implications. Treatment (insoles or surgery) of older children with persistently painful flat feet has good results in approximately 90 percent of cases. The outcome for children with underlying problems depends on the condition causing flat feet.