It’s that time of year again, when parents drive kids nuts, kids drive parents nuts, and parents drive other parents nuts rushing around crazily to get everything on your favorite teacher’s 1st day of school shopping list.
Back to school shopping is an exciting time for parents and kids for different reasons. For parents, it means it’s almost time to ship the kids back to school and maybe catch your breath from a busy summer before the busy fall really kicks in. Kids enjoy shopping for the latest and greatest supplies, backpacks, and a new wardrobe, including new sneakers. When shopping for new shoes, is important to prevent foot problems and injuries to your child’s feet. There are several tips for making the right selection of shoes for your child to start the school year, which unfortunately may include a compromise between his or her favorite “in-style” design and a pair of shoes that is good for their feet.
Bring your child shopping with you so they can be measured for proper size by a shoe store employee. Children often grow at an incredible rate which means their shoe size is going to change frequently. Proper shoe size will prevent tightness and improper motions that could lead to unwanted structural and functional changes in the feet. If one foot is larger than the other, you should always go with the larger size so it does not cramp the toes or create hammertoes (when your smaller digits contract up like a claw). Taking your child with you and teaching them what to look for also teaches them good habits for the future.
When in doubt about proper shoe size, always use the rule of thumb: Make sure that there is at least one thumb’s width between the tip of the big toe and the end of the shoe. This rule can also be used for adults. Look for a shoe that has a rigid midsole area (see pic below). If the shoe is able to bend front to back or twist side to side, it does not provide enough support.
Select a good sturdy shoe that has a stiff heel counter (the part of the shoe that goes around the backside of the heel) and a semi-rigid toe box (partially stiff-partially flexible area that goes over the tops of the toes) to help support the foot and prevent injuries or improper wearing-out patterns in the shoes.
It is important to regularly check the wear pattern of your child’s shoes to make sure both shoes show a similar normal pattern, as abnormal wear patterns can indicate changes in the foot and provide information to your podiatrist about possible foot problems your child may be experiencing. You can check the wear pattern by simply looking at the bottom surface of the shoe (the surface that touches the ground). A normal pattern should be worn out in the middle and outside of the heel area as well as in the area under the big toe and second toe. You can see in this picture that this follows the normal pattern of how force is distributed across your foot with each step you take, beginning when your heel strikes the ground and ending when your big toe pushes off the ground to move your forward.
In general, shoes should not be passed down from generation to generation as they do break down and wear out based on individual foot type (aka - shoes lose support and function with excessive wear). Sharing shoes could also possibly spread warts or fungus from one child to another. Shoes should be comfortable when they are first put on and should not have to be “broken in”.
If you have any questions about your child’s shoe size, how to pick a good shoe and the proper size, or concerns about abnormal wear patterns or other noticeable changes in your child’s feet, please do not hesitate to call us at 206.368.7000 or email [email protected]
Rion A. Berg, DPM
Podiatrist and Board Certified Foot Surgeon
Foot and Ankle Center of Lake City
2611 NE 125th St., Ste. 130
Seattle, WA 98125
Keeping Feet Happy and Healthy For 30 Years!