Its the new school year and time to buy school bags, stationery, uniforms and of course, school shoes.
By the time a child has reached 12 years of age, their feet will have reached about 90 per cent of their adult length, so it’s important that good footwear is worn from early childhood to help prevent any foot problems. While some foot problems can be inherited from parents, incorrect footwear can aggravate foot conditions and set up foot and toe deformities that can last a lifetime. Some examples of these conditions are bunions, ingrown toenails, bruised toenails, blisters and corns.
There are 26 bones in each foot, and these 52 bones in the feet make up one quarter of the total bones in the human body. There are 33 joints and over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments in each foot which work together to provide the body with support, balance and mobility. A good fitting shoe should be stable with good cushioning, providing internal and external support to the foot and ankle.
Shoes have to be well fitting, as children’s feet grow rapidly, and school kids spend lots of time being active. Firstly, it’s a good idea to check with the school for any shoe requirements such as style (lace up, buckle or Velcro) and colour. Slips ons are not recommended as they aren’t adjustable and so often don’t fit properly. As a general rule, a sturdy, chunky shoe may look like a good idea, as active kids can wear out their shoes quickly, but they may be too heavy and so it is better to opt for a more light weight, flexible shoe that is more natural to walk in.
Here are a few things you should look for in a quality, good fitting shoe:
- The sole of the shoe should be straight and should not twist, and have a good shock absorbing midsole.
- The heel should not be over 2cm high, and the back of the shoe should be firm and supportive
- The shoe should not bend in the middle, but should bend at the ball of the foot, where flexibility is needed.
- The upper parts of the shoe should be made from leather and lined with breathable materials
- If the shoe you are buying has laces, check lace up techniques with the fitter, as that can alter the fit of the shoe
- There should be approximately a finger’s width between the end of the longest toe and the end of the shoe. Your child should be able to wiggle their toes within the shoes and there should be no bulges from the toes on either side of the shoe
- The heel should be snug but comfortable within the shoe, and the back part of the shoe strong and stable. The fastening mechanism (laces, buckle or Velcro) should hold the foot firmly in the heel of the shoe
Don’t be tempted to let your child wear a hand me down, as a second hand shoe will most likely not fit your child properly, be worn down and have very little support. Good quality shoes can be expensive, and when it comes to school shoes, new is best. Children will spend around 30 hours a week in their school shoes, and that adds up to quite a lot over their school years, so it’s crucial that they are fitted properly.
Finally, don’t forget that some pain in the foot and heel can be an indicator for other common conditions that affect children – so if you have any doubts or your kids are complaining of any heel, foot, knee or leg pain, don’t hesitate to call us at Restore osteopaths in St Leonards.