When does a baby need medical shoes, and how can you avoid getting caught in marketing ploys and keep your baby's feet healthy? We discussed it with an expert.

Orthopedic shoes for children: how to choose, and whether a child needs it (advises a specialist)

How to choose the right orthopedic shoes for children - parental forums are full of such questions. To begin with, you need to wear a real medical one only in case of serious pathologies, which, fortunately, are not common. It is made exclusively after a medical diagnosis has been made, and is not bought by a caring mother for "preventive" purposes.

The best prevention of problems of the musculoskeletal system is  movement ! Only in this case, children train their muscles and ligaments, allowing the foot to develop as nature intended. And it is conceived so that they are born with absolutely... flat feet. The fat pad at the site of the vaults is noticeable until the baby begins to walk confidently. Only when the muscles of the legs are gradually "included" in the work, the arches of the foot rise. 

The correct formation of the arch of the foot is ensured by well-developed muscles and ligaments, and not by orthopedic models.

Why orthopedic shoes can hurt

Buying corrective sandals or shoes without a doctor's prescription is like taking medication at random. You wouldn't do that, would you? Moreover, not all such "preventive" footwear is approved by doctors.

What happens if parents buy shoes labeled "orthopedic" from a regular store ? Nothing good. Because in most cases, this is a marketing ploy and an attempt to manipulate young parents who want the best for their offspring, of course. As a rule, such shoes have an unjustifiably high price and... unsuccessful from the point of view of a podiatrist (foot specialist), an excessively rigid block designed to fix the leg in a conditionally correct position. 

What's really going on? Shackling the natural foot movement, such models "exclude" muscles and ligaments from work. In particular, a high hard back, imperatively assigned by old school orthopedists to everyone, blocks the lower leg muscles, which in fact degrade without sufficient training. Do you want to imagine the sensations that the child is experiencing? Go for a day in ski boots.

And now for the extremely important information! The weakness of the muscles that support the arches of the foot can cause the very flat feet that modern mothers are so afraid of. 

When are orthopedic shoes for children really needed and how to choose them

Asking yourself the question of which orthopedic shoes to choose for a child, it is important to understand that the medical one is selected exclusively by a specialized doctor individually after taking an anamnesis and a thorough diagnosis. 

Indications for wearing it may be the following pathologies:

  1. congenital, gross deformity of the feet, in particular clubfoot;
  2. neurological pathologies, for example, cerebral palsy ;
  3. the postoperative period for the correction of orthopedic pathologies, requiring restrictions in the mobility of the lower extremities.

Clubfoot accounts for a significant part of congenital foot deformities. With her, without dysfunctions of the foot, minimal impact and rehabilitation are sufficient. The child's muscles and ligaments are malleable and respond well to the impact. In more difficult cases, you will need to wear plaster splints.

With a successful development of events, it will be possible to forget about the pathology already by the first birthday . However, to avoid relapses, the podiatrist may recommend wearing corrective shoes or custom foot braces until school age.

If the child has "crooked" legs

Some pediatricians tend to recommend wearing orthopedic shoes for hallux valgus. Here it is important to understand whether there really is a problem, and only a specialized specialist can determine it, and not a pediatrician, and even more so, not a grandmother, to which "something seemed there," and she ran to buy fixators, bandages, corsets.

With the onset of bipedal locomotion and up to three and a half years, most healthy children have a physiological valgus of the lower leg. However, this frightening impressionable parents "X" in most cases goes away by itself as the growth and strengthening of the musculo-ligamentous apparatus (by 8-9 years).

How can parents know if a child has a problem requiring orthopedic shoes?

From the first step, the little patient is observed by a doctor - an orthopedist or podiatrist. The accepted terms of professional examinations at preschool age: once every two years (when he begins to walk, then at 3, 5, 7 years). But schoolchildren should be shown to a specialist more often - once a year. But if the child complains of pain in the legs or has problems with movement, it is better not to postpone the visit to the podiatrist. He will conduct the necessary tests on a special device - a podoscope. And, if necessary, will decide on treatment.

In addition to medical footwear, his arsenal includes orthopedic insoles, which are made individually and placed in everyday shoes. Blanks made of soft and plastic foam are modeled directly on the foot and then adjusted according to the orthopedic nuances of a particular foot. Their task is not to fix it, but to "teach" to work correctly. By providing elastic support, the insoles help maintain balance, exercise muscles and promote a physiological (healthy) gait pattern .

What shoes does a child need to grow up healthy

First of all, children's feet need freedom of movement. Shoes are essentially the same item of clothing, and they should mainly protect from cold and injury, but at the same time not disturb the physiology and biomechanics of growing feet.

Podiatrically correct footwear for children has:

  1. shape-stable (not rigid!) backdrop ;
  2. strong but flexible sole (hold the shoe by the toe and heel and try to bend it up);
  3. a small heel or thickening in the back of the sole (the norm for a preschooler is 0.5-1 cm);
  4. a sufficiently wide last (a narrow toe shifts the toes inside and contributes to the formation of an incorrect installation of the foot);
  5. good fixation on the leg (does not dangle, does not fall off - does not force overexertion in an attempt to keep it in place).

But the factory instep support is not needed at all for children's models. A certain supposedly correcting protrusion on the insole does not have the slightest practical sense, since it supports the foot very conditionally (where it works out).

There is a medical opinion with a large evidence base that in the case when a child is healthy, serious pathologies have not been diagnosed, then the ideal shoe for him is its absence. Walking barefoot in places where it is possible (at home or outdoors in the warm season), "provokes" constant muscle tension when the baby "catches" balance. And this is the perfect training and prevention of diseases of small legs!