It’s that time of year when kids start heading back to school. And with each new school season, comes back to school shopping for supplies, clothes, and shoes. Having the right shoe gear for your child is as important as having the right equipment for their sports or having the right supply for their projects.
Today, we share with you tips on what makes for a good shoe, how to properly size to your child’s foot type, and when you should replace shoes, along with other helpful tips to keep your child’s feet healthy and happy from the playground to the gym!
Finding the proper size sounds pretty obvious, but when it comes to young kids, they may not tell you that their toes are hitting the front of the shoe until you’ve noticed their toe is sticking out of their shoes!
Educating kids on when to inform parents that their shoes are either uncomfortable or they’re outgrowing them can help prevent ingrown toenails or toenails that turn dark or fall off from chronic irritation or rubbing against the shoes. Children grow at different rates, and it’s not uncommon for their shoes and sock sizes to increase every few months. The following tips can help achieve the best and most comfortable size.
- Shop with your kids so they are present to try on the shoes and provide feedback on what they find comfortable.
- Shop towards the end of the day when feet are most swollen or at their widest.
- Ensure there is some room for toes to wiggle. A good guide is to ensure that there is about a thumbs width of room in front of their longest toe.
- Bring the type of socks they most often wear along with orthotics or inserts to ensure they properly fit. Sometimes, you may have to increase by half a shoe size to accommodate these inserts or prescribed orthotics.
- Avoid hand-me-downs as they are likely too worn to provide any adequate support and just because they were comfortable for one child doesn’t mean the fit will be same for another child. Sharing shoes can also result in transmission of foot infections like athlete’s foot or plantar’s warts.
- Look for signs of irritation. Blisters and ingrown toenails are common when shoes do not properly fit.
- Always abide by the larger foot. Not everyone's feet is equally symmetric and one foot may slightly be longer or larger than the other foot, so always accommodate to the larger foot.
How do you overcome the battle between what’s considered “cool” versus what is functional?
Knowing what features to look for in a shoe can help you reach a compromise with your child and allow them to pick the color or look they want to achieve, as long as the shoes fit these guidelines:
- Look for a stiff midsole - this will provide the maximal support as the foot strikes the ground and reduces the propensity of the foot to “pronate” or roll inwards which can cause arch pain and fatigue. A good way to asses this is to bend the shoe and ensure it doesn’t bend, and evaluate the thickness of the exterior sole in the middle of the foot.
- Look for a stiff heel counter. This is the back of the shoe and can easily be assessed by squeezing the heel area, if it is soft, it will not provide the stability you want and can allow the foot and heel to roll inwards causing mid foot and heel pain.
- Make sure the front of the shoe or toe box is not too narrow. Good shoes should naturally accommodate to your child’s foot shape, if your child has a wider forefoot, consider an extra wide.
- Avoid excessive flexibility of the toe box or front of the shoe. Repeat the bend test in this area, there should be slight flexibility, but not excessive enough to roll up the shoe. The more cushion in this area, the less likely they will experience pain along the padding or ball of the foot and less likely to have stress across the joints of the forefoot.
Why should you replace their shoes if they haven’t outgrown them?
For the reasons you replace your car tires when the treads are worn to prevent your car from slipping or sliding, you should replace your child’s shoes if there is excessive wear and tear and the treads are visibly wearing down.
A good way to assess this is to look at the shoe sitting on a flat surface from behind, if either edge of the shoe is worn, or the shoe easily rocks back and forth when you tip it, then it’s time to replace the shoe .
Loss of structure can compromise stability and cause the foot to compensate resulting in foot pain and fatigue.
If you feel that there you are having to replace your child’s shoes sooner than normal or the wear pattern doesn’t seem normal, consider making an appointment with a podiatrist to have their foot structure assessed and determine if they need orthotics or similar supportive devices.
What are the signs that your child maybe having foot problems?
Pay attention to their behavior, pattern of activities, or their complaints. Your child may be tell you when something hurts, but sometimes, problems can present initially as fatigue or discomfort and children may not communicate this with you. Consider making an appointment with one of our podiatrists:
- If your child suddenly chooses not to participate in activities or sports
- If your child is limping or walking differently
- You may notice that they are asking to be carried or picked up or ask to sit down frequently
- They may complain that they’re tired or their legs or back are sore
- They are developing blisters, ingrown toenails, or irritation to the arch, mid-foot, or ankle.
These signs may be indicate that there may be associated foot problems that can affect their daily routine and patterns.
At Bluebonnet Foot and Ankle Institute, we are here to help you and your child take steps in the right direction to start off a great school year!
If you need help or want to discuss in detail the right shoe gear with one of our podiatrists or feel that your child may need a foot evaluation, call us at 512-394-5108 or visit us at https://www.bluebonnetfootandankleinstitute.com to schedule an appointment online.