Floppy Children’s Feet

Have you ever wondered why childrens feet are so floppy and malleable? Children and their flexible feet could be an act with Cirque du Soleil. It is almost as if they are made of the same material as Stretch Armstrong. The truth behind their amazing feats of flexibility lies within the anatomic aging sequence of the bones in the foot and the associated muscular attachments. What am I talking about?

The human foot has 28 bones. However, you are not born with all of these bones fully formed, or even formed at all. Each of these bones follows a specified order of ossification (bone formation), that is not fully finished till mid to late teens.

Order of Ossification:

  • 15 phalanges: Begin forming at 3-4 months of fetal development, meaning while in the womb.
  • 5 metatarsals: Begin forming at 3 months of fetal development
  • Calcaneus: Forms at 5-6 months of fetal development
  • Talus: Forms at 6-7 months of fetal development
  • Cuboid: Shows ossification at the 9 month of fetal development
  • Lateral Cuneiform: Begins ossifying at 6 months of age
  • Middle Cuneiform: Begins ossifying at 1 year of age
  • Medial Cuneiform: Shows formation at 1.5-2 years of age
  • Navicular: Begins ossifying at 2.5-5 years of age
  • Sesamoids: Ossification begins at 7-8 years of age

Some bones will have a secondary center of ossification that begins at a different age from the primary center.

As the bones in the foot begin forming, the flexible nature of the foot declines due to the formation of joints and the soft tissues that are now attached to these osseous structures. Now Im not saying that your foot loses all flexibility, but your foot is definitely not as flexible as when you were a child.

So the next time you are playing with a childs foot you now know why they are able to touch their shin with their big toe.

If you have any foot/ankle related concerns, please contact Dr. Bowman at 713-467-8886 or visit www.houstonfootspecialists.com.

Category: General

Tags: Bone Development, Children, Development, Flexibility, Foot