It’s that time of year again – next month sees the start of a new school year, when parents have to get everything ready for the new term with children who seem to have literally grown inches since they broke up! Of all the school shopping required, shoe shopping just has to be the worst….“ I don’t like them, they’re not comfortable, they’re not cool, I want lace ups, I want the same as my friend……” and so it goes on. But, buying the right shoe is so important for your child’s foot health. And it doesn’t stop there; our feet are our foundations, the wrong support underfoot and we can cause knock on effects throughout the body.
A large proportion of children wear ill-fitting shoes, due to fashion led choices, where toe shape, foot width and instep/arch support are not a consideration. But for school shoes, which are worn the majority of the time, we (as parents) can have more of an influence and ensure a good quality, supportive and well-fitting shoe. It is best to take your child to a shop where fitting is offered by trained staff (in Cheltenham, visit Clarkes, Russell and Bromley or Adcocks on Bath Road)
When shoe shopping with your children, here are a few top tips to keep in mind:
1. TIME OF DAY – Feet spread and swell during the day, and so the afternoon is the best time of day to go shopping for shoes.
2. RIGHT FITTING – Make sure your child’s foot is fully extended (no toe scrunching) and check the fit while your child is standing. Allow 1/2 inch between your child’s longest toe and the edge of the shoe, and make sure the shoes aren’t too tight or too loose, as both cause problems. The heel should not lift as your child walks and ideally the toe shape of the shoe should mirror that of your child’s toes (eg some children have more even length/squarer feet, while others more curved/sloping).
3. SOLES – Shoes with a non-slip or patterned sole will minimise the risk of slipping. Soles should be flexible but durable, and thick enough to cushion the sole of the foot.
4. FLEXIBILITY – Check the flex of the shoe. It should bend at the ball of the foot, where the big toe flexes, never in the middle, this will ensure the arch of the foot is supported.
5. FASTENING – Shoes with either laces or Velcro style fastenings will allow for width adjustment and provide a better fit. Avoid slip on and backless shoes.
6. HEEL – A slight heel slope is important. Try to avoid completely flat shoes as well as high heels. Both will place pressure on the Achilles tendon and the arch of the foot and should not be a daily choice of footwear.
7. BREATHABLE LINING – Unfortunately children’s feet tend to sweat more than adults. A shoe lining that allows a child’s feet to breath will make it more comfortable and hygienic, such as leather or canvas.
8. ORTHOTICS/PRESCRIPTION INSOLES – If your child already wears orthotics, make sure you take them to the shop and ensure the new shoe can accommodate them. If you feel your child may benefit from foot supports (for example if they complain of foot, knee or hip pain or if you notice they wear their shoes down differently left compared to right), we’d suggest booking in with our podiatrist who will analyse the way they walk and asses the foot movement. Or, book with one of our Chiropractors, who can assess the movement and mechanics of the foot, knee and hip and offer advice or referral to our podiatrist.