Are Your Children’s Feet & Shoes Ready for School?
You’re likely no stranger to the back-to-school rush by now.
Pencils, pens, notebooks, folders. So many supplies festooned with whatever is currently popular (Fortnite, we think?). And don’t forget the boxes of tissues and other requests from the homeroom!
In all the gathering up of goods, how much thought have you put into your child’s feet and shoes before the school season starts?
We’re sure you’ve probably considered it, but fully knowing what to look for can prevent potential discomfort in the future (and maybe even having to buy a pair of better-fitting shoes!).
Keep this advice in mind during your Back-to-School Check:
What Shape Are Your Children’s Feet In?
Before hitting the shoe store, it’s never a bad idea to see whether there’s anything about your child’s feet that needs to be checked out.
On the surface, check for any sores, spots, or other blemishes. Hopefully a case of plantar warts or athlete’s foot wasn’t picked up over the summer!
Also look for any signs of gait abnormalities or other problems with locomotion. Does your child complain of pain in their feet, ankles, or heels? Do they show signs of limping or favoring one side? Do they end their favorite active sports and games sooner than they used to? These are all signs of a potential problem.
Flat feet in children are also a relatively common sight, but one that tends to disappear as a child’s arches develop. If your child is over the age of 5 and you still see flat feet when they stand or rise on their toes, it’s a good idea to give us a call.
Flat feet should be monitored periodically as your child continues to grow. If it begins to show signs of becoming a problem, it can be addressed quickly before things can get worse.
Get Shoe Shopping!
You’re likely well aware that children’s feet grow quickly—especially when starting out! But even after the age of 3, a kid’s feet can grow up to half a shoe size every 4-6 months.
Back to school time is a prime opportunity to get the latest update on your child’s current size. A professional fitting at a shoe store from a trained associate is the best method.
A trained associate is also going to be a great help in determining whether there are any additional elements you should look for in a shoe based on your child’s arches and gait. Low or flat arches, for example, should be met with a shoe that offers better support. High arches, which frequently have problems absorbing shock, benefit from shoes that have significant cushioning.
When looking at shoes, also keep the following mind:
- Don’t cram the toes. There should be room in the toebox for the toes to comfortably move. There should be about a half-inch of space between the end of the longest toe and the front of the shoe—about the width of one of your fingers. The front of the shoe should also be wider than the heel.
- Don’t slip the heel. There may be a temptation to buy bigger shoes for your child to “grow into,” but that can lead to additional problems. Shoes that are too large and slip easily can cause anything from blisters to black toenails, as the toes and heel slide around inside. If you are worried about your child outgrowing their shoes, it’s better to buy a cheaper and adequate pair to grow out of in half a year than something more expensive that isn’t the right fit.
- Don’t be too rigid. While support is good (especially for flat arches, as we noted above), you still want some flexibility. Make sure the shoe has some bend near the toes by physically trying to bend it yourself. If there’s no give in this section, that’s a bad sign.
- Don’t be stifled. Shoes that allow some circulation of air are not only more comfortable, but they reduce the accumulation of sweat and moisture inside the shoe. This is helpful in reducing both smelly shoes and the risks of picking up nasty conditions such as fungal toenails. Mesh designs work well, as do natural fibers such as canvas, cotton, and leather. Plastic, faux leather, rubber, and vinyl do not rate high for breathability.
Still Not Making the Grade?
Even when making the best shoe choices, problems might still arise with discomfort, pain, or abnormalities in movement.
In these cases, shoes can be enhanced with custom orthotics. We offer the littleSTEPS line for young feet. They’re extremely effective at providing needed support and cushioning, and you might be surprised how well your child can take to them!
However, it is worth noting that orthotics are not always the answer to children’s foot care concerns. When it comes to reaching the root of the problem and determining the best course of action, we take pride in our services.
Our office in Jasper is happy to hear from nearby families. If you have any questions about your child’s feet and ankles or would like to schedule an appointment, give us a call at (812) 481-7200 or fill out our online contact form. We see grown-up feet too, after all!