With the back to school shopping to finalise, and your child having had yet another growth spurt, you may find yourself purchasing new uniform this summer. As well as clothing, it is important to keep an eye on your child’s footwear, to make sure their shoes fit correctly and are suitable for everyday wear.
A staggering 29 per cent of British children could be wearing shoes which are completely the wrong size, according to a new survey of 2,000 parents by The College of Podiatry. The survey also found that a worrying 55 per cent of children have suffered damage to their feet, such as blisters, bruises and calluses, because of wearing shoes which are either too small or unsuitable for young feet.
Dr. Stewart Morrison, a podiatrist from the College of Podiatry and The University of Brighton, commented: “It is worrying that so many children are wearing shoes which either don’t fit them properly or are not suitable for everyday wear. Children’s feet are still growing and are more susceptible to damage than adult feet, so it’s really vital to ensure they are wearing shoes that fit them well – in width as well as length – and that are suitable for age, as well as the task they are wearing them for.
“We recommend parents have their children’s feet measured and their everyday shoes fitted by a professional. For a young child (aged 1-3), foot changes can happen very quickly and parents should have their feet measured approximately every 8 weeks, and for older children, we would advise every 3-4 months. This would be particularly important during growth spurts.”
Advice from The College of Podiatry on general guidance for what to look for in a children’s shoe:
- Adequate length and width: All children’s footwear should be measured for length and width, and fitted by an appropriately trained shoe fitter. If fitting is not available, or is refused, go elsewhere.
- Broad base of heel: This should be as wide as the heel to give stability, and be made of a shock-absorbing material.
- Height of heel: You are looking for a slight heel to provide sufficient shock absorption, ideally around a quarter of an inch. Completely flat shoes such as ballet pumps provide little shock absorption but heels of 2cm of higher can shorten calf muscles and place pressure on the ball of the foot.
- Toe area shape: This should be foot shaped and not pointed, or excessively tapered.
- Holding the foot in the shoe: It is important that the shoe is kept on the foot by laces, Velcro or ‘T’ bar, which acts like a seatbelt in a car, holding the shoe onto the foot. This helps to prevent toe deformities, as lack of support to keep the shoe on the foot can allow the foot to slide up and down in the shoe and damage the toes or cause the toes to claw to help keep the shoe on. This is a particular problem with the current fashion of not tying shoelaces or with ballet pump and slip-on style shoes.
- Material: Leather is the best material for kids’ shoes as it is flexible and soft, but hard wearing. It also lets air in but keeps moisture out, meaning feet stay cool and dry in most conditions. Nubuck, suede and other soft fabrics are different types of leather and share most of the benefits. Avoid shoes which are largely made of other materials (synthetics and plastics) as these are often hard, inflexible and won’t allow your children’s feet to breathe.
- Adequate depth of toe area: This is particularly important in individuals with a big toe that curls up at the end and helps to avoid toenail problems.
- Support: The shoe should offer sufficient support for the foot. The shoe should not bend or crumple excessively. Plimsolls and ballet pump shoes are examples that bend too easily.