Do Kids Need Insoles?

Do Kids Need Insoles?

by Mark Paigen 4 minute read

People who have packed on the miles over the years know that insoles make a huge difference on how their feet feel. But are insoles only for people of a certain age or are they helpful for kids?

The Basics ---

  • If your child has back pain, foot problems, or participates in sports like soccer, baseball or basketball, they may benefit from adding insoles to their footwear.
  • Foot problems that go unaddressed during childhood can continue into adolescence and interfere with spinal function and biomechanics, causing issues with the knees, hips and spine. 
  • Tread Labs insoles begin at men's size 4/women's size 5, providing a great fit for kids wearing adult size shoes. 
  • For first time insole wearers, we recommend Ramble Insoles. If your child is an athlete looking for an extra edge, shop Dash Insoles.

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When Do Children Develop Foot Arches?

While permanently flat feet are not common in young children, most kids won't even begin to show arches until they're two years or older. The majority of children start forming arches between the ages of two and six, however some don't start until they're eight.

As Chiropractic Economics points out, as your child reaches adolescence, foot problems from childhood can interfere with spinal function, resulting in poor biomechanics and degenerative changes in the knees, hips and spine. Addressing foot problems as they appear helps your child avoid long-term issues. 

But what are the best ways to address foot problems in children? Podiatrist Joseph D’Amico, DPM says providing kids with orthotics has profound developmental potential. “The earlier treatment begins in the child, the more favorable the outcome.” He continued, “bone growth and alignment may be influenced in a positive manner to affect structural as well as positional changes achievable in the adult.”

While a lack of full arches isn’t serious for most children, it’s important to keep track of. If you child hasn't started developing arches by age six, it's time to talk to their doctor.

Does My Child Have Flat Feet?

If your child is at an age where you would expect arches in their feet to develop, and you're wondering how to tell if they have flat feet, here are some signs you can look for: 

  • Pronation - If your child walks on the inside of his feet, rather than on the sole. You’ll see it from behind.
  • Foot Pain - Most flat feet don't cause pain, but in flat feet pain can occur during weight-bearing activities like walking or running, particularly in the sole of the foot, ankle, or non-specific foot pain. 
  • Back Pain - Poor foot control and flat feet can cause back pain. If you child is complaining about pain, it might be a good idea to see the doctor.

Do Kids Need Insoles?

According to Parents Magazine, "children with flat feet should use good, supportive shoes on most days and have arch supports in all their shoes and sneakers." By the age of 7, many kids are wearing adult sized shoes which don't offer a lot in terms of arch support or cushioning. It is also around this age that kids can experience back and foot pain.

Adding a pair of arch support insoles to their footwear can make a huge difference, especially if your child is an athlete participating in sports. Insoles can be a big help to children who: 

  • Complain about back pain. Obviously your first stop should be a medical professional, but you may find that adding arch support insoles to your kid’s shoes will improve their biomechanics and alleviate their aches and pains.
  • Are active. If your child is in athletics, particularly soccer or track, or spends the summer running around in the woods, a pair of kids’ insoles can cushion their feet and legs, helping to prevent joint problems and back pain later in life.
  • Have foot problems. As your child grows into a tween and teen, insoles can support the healthy development of their feet. This might prevent unusual walking later or even serious foot problems that originate from incorrect foot growth early in life.
  • Have a doctor who has recommended them. If your child’s pediatrician or podiatrist advises that you get insoles, there's sure to be a reason. Often, insoles are ordered when the arches aren’t developing correctly or the doctor sees unusual growth or movement in the foot. The comfortable restriction that a good insole puts on the foot will keep it growing well.
  • Could have fresher feet. Foot odor is caused by bacteria in the shoe. Insoles that have an anti-microbial treatment can help reduce bacteria in the shoe, keeping athlete's foot and fungal growth at bay.

Which Kid’s Shoes Need Insoles?

While some shoes are more comfortable than others, they just don't have support built-in. Just about any shoe your child wears could be made more supportive and comfortable with insoles. You'll want to make sure you're buying the right style of insoles for their shoes. Here's how to figure which you need:

  • Sneakers - Most kids wear sneakers all day and the built-in inserts flatten out quickly. If the sneakers your child is wearing have thicker, full-length removeable inserts, look for insoles that offer a similarly thick top cover. Be sure to remove the factory insert before adding in the arch support insoles so your child's feet still have plenty of room.
  • Dress shoes - If your child wears a school uniform, they probably wear dress shoes. Dress shoes are notoriously uncomfortable, but can feel much better with a pair of short or 3/4 length insoles. This style of insole is designed for shoes that don't have a removable factory insert. They leave plenty of room in the toe box so feet aren't squished.
  • Sport shoes – If your child is an athlete who plays soccer or other sports, you want them to have support that helps absorb impact and improve biomechanics to reduce risk of injury. Most low-volume and cleated sport shoes have a thin, full-length factory insert. You'll want to replace that with a pair of thin, full-length insoles

Adding insoles to kids shoes is an important part of taking care of their whole body, especially if they're part of an early intervention strategy to correct biomechanical issues that could impact long-term functioning. Talk with your pediatrician about adding insoles to your kid's footwear and keep them comfortable, active and pain-free. 

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