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Flexible flat feet

What are flexible flat feet?

Most feet have an arch on the inside of the foot. Some children have flexible flat feet, also known as fallen arches or pes planus. All babies and most toddlers
appear to have flat feet due to their ‘baby fat’ which hides the developing arch.

Flat feet are normal at these developmental ages. The feet are called flexible because the arch reforms when your child goes up on their tip-toes. It
can be common for other members of your family to have flat feet.


Flexibility in the ligaments that hold the bones together causes flexible flat feet.

Flat feet occur as often in people who wear shoes as in those who don’t wear shoes, so it’s not caused by inappropriate footwear


Most children with flexible flat feet do not have any symptoms. People with flat feet have no more chance of having foot problems than people with arched feet.


There’s usually no treatment needed for most children. We don’t recommend using shoe inserts or insoles (orthotics) as they have no effect on the development of the foot arch.

We only recommend orthotics for older children who have pain in their feet. This is a very small percentage of the children we see.

We recommend that the right shoes for your child fit correctly and are comfortable.

Natural outcomes

The arch on the inside of the foot may begin to develop at age 4 and should fully develop by age 10. If not, your child will likely have flat feet in adult life.

There’s no evidence to say they’ll have more problems than a person with an arch. There are numerous professional sports people and dancers with flat feet who show no disadvantages.

When to get further advice

Get help for your child if:

  • your child has ongoing foot pain
  • their foot is ‘fixed’ and inflexible
  • they have problems with every day function due to their foot position.