Back-to-school will look a little different this fall, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the importance of properly fitting shoes to keep youngsters putting their best foot forward.
While it’s tempting to pass along shoes from older siblings, or snapping up that sale pair without trying them on – shoes are expensive, we know – taking the time to make a well-fitted choice will serve kids better in the long run.
Ill-fitting shoes can cause a variety of foot issues, from painful blisters and calluses to more serious issues such as ingrown toenails and toe deformities.
Given that shoe shopping likely isn’t your little one’s favourite activity, we checked in with Red Deer podiatrist Dr. Darren Woodruff, from Central Alberta Podiatry, for his tips to make it as painless as possible:
- Check your children’s feet regularly. As parents know, children’s feet can grow quickly, meaning shoes that fit last month can be squishing their toes today.
- Look for signs of irritation. Shoes that have grown too small will begin rubbing, creating redness, sore spots or blisters.
- Don’t choose shoes “they’ll grow into.” Too-big shoes can also create issues of rubbing and blisters, can cause feet to slide forward, jamming the toes, and present a tripping hazard. At the same time, avoid shoes that need to be “broken in.”
- Don’t pass shoes to siblings. Not only are children’s feet different shapes, but shoes wear out, “especially with the mileage kids tend to put on them,” Dr. Woodruff notes.
- Do look for a shoe with support. Take the toe and heel and try to bend them toward each other. The shoe should bend where your foot bends. Next, try to spiral the shoe, moving the toe and heel in opposite directions. You want a little movement, but not too much. Finally, pinch the back of the shoe – called the heel counter. You want it to be firm.
- Size well. Look for about a half-centimetre of space in the length of the shoe, being sure to measure to the longest toe (not always the big toe, Dr. Woodruff notes,) And remember that feet are often different sizes, so fit to the biggest foot. When trying shoes on, have children wear the socks or tights they’ll typically wear.
- Stand and stride. Because feet will spread out with the weight that comes with standing and moving, do have children stand up and walk around to ensure the shoes still feel comfortable.
Any questions about your children’s feet? It’s always best to check with your local podiatrist!