Foot structure is often classified into flat foot, neutral and high arch type based on the variability of the Medial Longitudinal Arch (MLA). To date, the literature provided contrasting evidence on the age when MLA development stabilises in children. The influence of footwear on MLA development is also unknown.
This study aims to (i) clarify whether the MLA is still changing in children from age 7 to 9 years old and (ii) explore the relationship between footwear usage and MLA development, using a longitudinal approach.
We evaluated the MLA of 111 healthy school children [age = 6.9 (0.3) years] using three parameters [arch index (AI), midfoot peak pressure (PP) and maximum force (MF: % of body weight)] extracted from dynamic foot loading measurements at baseline, 10-month and 22-month follow-up. Information on the type of footwear worn was collected using survey question. Linear mixed modelling was used to test for differences in the MLA over time.
Insignificant changes in all MLA parameters were observed over time [AI: P = .15; PP: P = .84; MF: P = .91]. When gender was considered, the AI of boys decreased with age [P = .02]. Boys also displayed a flatter MLA than girls at age 6.9 years [AI: mean difference = 0.02 (0.01, 0.04); P = .02]. At baseline, subjects who wore close-toe shoes displayed the lowest MLA overall [AI/PP/MF: P < .05]. Subjects who used slippers when commencing footwear use experienced higher PP than those who wore sandals [mean difference = 31.60 (1.44, 61.75) kPa; post-hoc P = .04].
Discussion and conclusion
Our findings suggested that the MLA of children remained stable from 7 to 9 years old, while gender and the type of footwear worn during childhood may influence MLA development. Clinicians may choose to commence therapy when a child presents with painful flexible flat foot at age 7 years, and may discourage younger children from wearing slippers when they commence using footwear.
- Arch Development
- School Children