It’s almost that time of year again… back to school time!
As our children get ready to go back to school, many of them will have spent the summer in sandals and not had shoes on their feet for some weeks. Getting new shoes for school is an age-old tradition that can fill a parent with dread. Start the new school year off on the right foot by keeping these tips in mind when back to school shoe shopping!
Don’t Assume Your Child’s Feet Are The Same Size
Children’s feet grow and change frequently. Make sure to measure both feet when shopping for new shoes to ensure a proper fit. Aim for a one thumbnail length between the end of the toes and shoes.
Don’t Ever Buy Used Shoes
Charity shops and hand-me-downs are great for a lot of things, but shoes are not one of them. Aside from possible fungus and bacteria, many times used shoes have lost all of the cushioning and padding.
Look For Shoes With Good Support
Check for a stiff heel by pressing on both sides of the heel counter; it shouldn’t collapse under the pressure. Bend the shoe with your hands to ensure it will bend with your child’s toes; it shouldn’t be too stiff. Try twisting the shoe; it should be rigid across the middle and never twist in that area.
Shop with Your Child
Don’t buy shoes for your child and bring them home just because the shoes were in their size. Shopping with your child allows you to have his or her foot measured professionally, and that your child can test the shoe for a proper fit and give you their opinion. Kids who learn how to select a comfortable, supportive shoe may be less likely to make wrong footwear choices as adults, which could save them a lot of discomfort.
Don’t Buy Shoes That Need to be “Broken-In”
The best type of shoes are ones that don’t need to be “broken-in.” Your child’s shoes should be comfortable from the minute they are worn for the first time. This will avoid painful blisters on the heels of the feet or top of the toes.
How to check for a good shoe fit
Ideally you will have your child’s foot measured and the shoes fitted by a qualified shoe fitter. However this is not always possible. So, here are some tips to help you ensure a correct fit:
- Hold your child’s ankle with one hand and grip the heel of the shoe with the other. Pull the shoe down to ensure it is gripping the heel well.
- With your child standing, check the edges where the shoe meets the foot. There should be no gaps
- Use your thumb to press the top of the shoe to feel for the longest toe to check the toe is not pressing against the end of the shoe and that there is sufficient growing room.
- Check that the ankles are clear of the collar of the shoe, unless it is padded.
- The toe-box should mimic the natural shape of the child’s foot, so soft rounded edges are ideal.
- Check the foot is fitting snuggly within the shoe, with no pressure or bulging on the sides or at the top.
- Shoes with adjustable straps such as laces or Velcro will help accommodate your child’s constantly changing feet and provide support.
- The best time to arrange your shoe fitting is in the afternoon, as our feet naturally swell throughout the day.
- Get your child to walk, run and skip in their shoes to ensure they are comfortable whatever movement the foot is making inside them
Once the school year is underway, keep an eye on your child’s shoes, active kids may wear out footwear faster than adults. Be vigilant for signs of irritation, as the footwear may no longer fit properly, especially if it’s been a few months since you bought the shoes.
Be sure children wear shoes that are appropriate for their activities. If your daughter plays sports, she should wear a good athletic shoe designed for that sport. If your son is a runner, he’ll need a good running shoe. For daily wear choose a good, supportive shoe.
Many podiatric problems in adulthood are caused by ill-fitting footwear in childhood, so ensuring your child’s shoes fit correctly is very important.
If you are concerned about your child’s feet, or if they are experiencing pain in their feet or legs, our podiatrists can advise and offer treatment. Call us on 01277 214848 for an appointment or advise.