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    jodeyh's Avatar
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    Foot Fitness for Kids, when being barefoot isn't an option

    Primal Fuel
    I have an 8.5yo son who overpronates. His ankles roll inward and his arches appear to be nearly flat. I was told to get him some orthotics to put in his shoes to support his feet in the right position. However, I'm not one for just putting a band aid on an issue. Especially one as important as foot, ankle, knee and hip health, if indeed that is what I'd be doing with the orthotics.

    Instead, I looked around the web a bit and found that just being barefoot, as humans were meant to be, would strengthen his feet. I'm more in favor of going barefoot and doing some natural strengthening than sticking some piece of molded rubber in his shoes.

    All that being said, he can't walk around barefoot all day because he's in public school. So I'm thinking about getting him a pair of Merrell barefoot sneakers, similar to one of the barefoot shoes I have and like.

    Will putting him in barefoot shoes be enough to strengthen his feet to the point where his foot position is corrected or are the orthotics something he actually needs?

    Opinions and evidence are greatly appreciated.

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    The Merrell shoes will certainly help a lot more than the orthotics for strengthening and hopefully correcting the issues. I'd definitely go that route before the orthotics route. My 5 year old wears the Merrell's btw.

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    Barefoot shoes will definatly help him walk in a natural way. I trip to a good osteopath should find out if he has any alignment isses they can help with, or failing that some specific excersises to help from a physiotherapist may help. but both those will be helped by using minimalist shoes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbhikes View Post
    I tried those for myself and my son.. wasn't a fan. Fit was terrible, soles to stiff and bad customer experience all-round.

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    Chances are your kid will have to actively correct his gait to compensate if he's going to wear minimalist footwear, which is a tough thing for a child to grasp/do. That being said, I was given orthodics when I was 11 and wore them until I was 23. When i chucked them it felt a little weird a first but I made a conscious effort to have a neutral walk. Never had any issues/pain since. I think the issue arose from the fact that my feet just don't work well with most shoes. They push my ankles inward, and i notice that my shoes always wear down on the outer heel because my ankle wants to roll out.

    I wear neutral sole canvas shoes like vans or globes. They are pretty comfortable and stylish, and affordable. I wear flexible neutral soft sole loafers to work. I don't run anymore but I used to quite a bit. I'd probably go for a neutral running shoe or a nike free if I did want to run again.

    shoes aren't inherently bad, they are only problematic when they force your foot into an awkward position/range of motion. I'd say hold off on the orthodics for your kid until he starts to have actual problems/pain. Even better if you can get some mobility drills from your podiatrist for him to do to improve his gait/posture.

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    My two cents - it depends. Firstly, on who told you, ie what are their qualifications in the peds PT/orthopedic arena, and secondly, on how bad the problem is.

    You see, I have a daughter who has been wearing ankle-foot orthotics since preschool (now 12) for some decently serious ankle weakness problems. She would never have had the support to be able to stand correctly and walk correctly, much less run without them, and by this point in her development, her posture/gait would have been seriously screwed up without them. I go to a peds therapy center to do exercises and stuff on a regular basis with a PT, along with the heavy-duty braces, as well as have her barefoot as much as possible while still maintaining the support as she grows. They have helped tremendously.

    I know the MDA demonizes orthotics and shoes and all, and mostly for cause I believe, but there are situations where stuff like this is a right thing to do.

    Anyway, I have been around a bit in this department, and there are several things you don't want to do. They would be: take advice from someone not qualified in this field; ignore advice from someone who is qualified and experienced; go cheap on the orthotics if they are needed (meaning stay away from off-the-shelf stuff... Custom is more expensive, but also works better and is hugely more comfortable); and assume this will be forever.

    My daughter will be done with the heavy duty stuff about 18 months after menarche, because that is when her bone growth will be done, and then transition into custom inserts. After/concurrent to that, I will see if Vibrams and Co. might be right, along with the barefooting we already do. Watching kids walk horribly is kinda a pet peeve of mine, just from my experiences with the daughter.

    Not being a peds orthopedic specialist, I cannot really tell you yea or nay, but I would advise you to take this earnestly and seek out good advice, and then take it. (Not that you aren't - just sayin'). All children's hospitals have peds orthopedists who can give you the entire lowdown in one visit, just as a resource, if you haven't got good people. In my experience, the peds orthopedists are interested in getting the kids out of inserts/braces just as much as they are interested in getting them into them, once the problem is helped.
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    Two chiropractors have told me that he overpronates. I can see it clearly myself, looking at his feet.

    What I don't want to do is put him in orthotics if we could do it differently and as effectively. I'm not very trusting of most doctors, having had bad experiences with my somewhat-alternative way of thinking and their not-so-alternative-throw-some-pills-at-the-problem way of thinking. I'm not, however, a person who doesn't listen to different perspectives, so going to a pediatric ortho specialist will be on my list of things to do.

    I don't think shoes are inherently bad, but I also think that our feet are adapted to doing the things we need to do without all the rubber between us and the earth. For me, barefoot shoes are a happy medium, and one that I'm definitely willing to spend the money on. My other son wears the neutral sole shoes, like Vans, and has no ankle/foot issues.

    Thank you guys for your input. I will find an ortho who can give me some guidance that I can trust, and I will also do more research on the subject.

    Thanks again.
    Jodey

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    Quote Originally Posted by slowcooker View Post
    I tried those for myself and my son.. wasn't a fan. Fit was terrible, soles to stiff and bad customer experience all-round.
    I haven't tried them, but they look horribly uncomfortable and expensive. I don't think my kid would wear them simply because of the way they look.

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    My recommendation would be to put him in barefoot shoes and let his body figure it out.

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