What Is Club Foot?
- Club foot is a common deformity of one or both feet that is detected before or after birth, and does not have a known cause.
- The child’s heel points downward as the front of the foot points inward. Due to this twist of the foot, the calf muscles are short and may cause additional muscle tightness (Boston’s Children’s Hospital, 2017), which can cause difficulties in movements, especially walking and crawling.
What Is The Treatment?
- It is important to consistently exercise, flex and stimulate the child’s foot through physical therapy and other exercise techniques. According to researchers, implementing a specialized therapist to support recovery, motor improvements, and decrease tension and pain in the leg and foot is essential for proper muscle use and growth (Mihaela, 2014).
As a Parent or Guardian, How Can You Help With Muscle Development and Functioning?
- The Boston’s Children’s Hospital (2017) suggests that parents can learn proper techniques from a specialized therapist for practicing stretches and repositioning of the foot to relieve muscles in the ankle and in the calf muscle.
- Professionals most often require that children with club foot have a brace or cast until the baby is about 6 months of age, then using the brace mostly at night, while going without the brace when learning to crawl, walk and when playing.
- Paley (2014), a well-known orthopedic and spine institute at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, gives further advice for muscle lengthening and supporting children after or during cast removal of the child. When the child’s cast is removed, their foot and calf area can be very sensitive to touch, so gently massaging the foot with lotion using soft touches, such as tickling and gentle tapping with cotton or cloths can be used to engage in the child’s sense of touch in the foot and leg area.
The main focus should be on stimulating and strengthening the child’s foot and leg muscles to create balance, flexibility and strength that will help the child with walking, crawling and playing. It is important to have your therapist show you and work with you on practices and stretches for your child.
Finally, another important practice that can be implemented at home is using a squat position during play-time once your child has begun to walk. A proper squat involves your child planting both heels flat on the floor with their knees slightly opened. This position will help stretch the calf muscles and keep flexibility in the foot, ankle and leg. Paley (2014) suggests as the child gets older and masters this squatting position, encourage them to hop like a frog and waddle like a duck.
As you can see, the child’s muscles are very important when working with deformities, like club foot. Physical therapy and proper stretching exercises can significantly improve the functioning of your child’s muscles and foot movements. We hope that you find this informative and empowering to encourage your little one to reach milestones as you assist them in their play and growth adventures through stretch and muscle tightness relief.
Boston Children’s Hospital (2017). Treatments for Clubfoot in Children. Retrieved from
Mihaela, A. (2014). CASE STUDY ON THE ROLE OF PHYSICAL THERAPY IN RECOVERY CONGENITAL CHILDFOOT IN INFANTS. / STUDIU DE CAZ PRIVIND ROLUL KINETOTERAPIEI ÎN RECUPERAREA PICIORULUI STRÂMB CONGENITAL LA SUGARI. Gymnasium: Scientific Journal Of Education, Sports & Health, 15(1), 237-248. Retrieved from
Paley Orthopedic and Spine Institute (2014). Clubfoot. Retrieved from