As South Yarra Spine & Sports Medicine is located right next to Melbourne High School, I see plenty of school shoes on a daily basis. It’s that time of the year when children go back to school so here are some key things to look for when getting new shoes.
1. Fit – children’s feet are constantly growing so we need to allow for this to naturally happen. Excess pressure on the toes and forefoot can cause pain, lead to ingrown toenails, and contribute to the development of bunions and clawed toes.
Children’s feet are typically wider in the forefoot. A shoe like this will squash the forefoot causing changes in structure and abnormal function. Next time you get shoes check that the width and depth of the forefoot is adequate for the foot. A good way to do this is to trace around the foot and compare it to the insole of the shoe. The length of the shoe should allow for a thumb widths of space at the toe.
2. Comfort – children’s shoes should be comfortable from day 1. Whilst this sounds obvious it’s important to check this when buying them. A good shoe should require minimal wearing-in and your child should want to wear their shoes. Uncomfortable shoes can adversely affect function and also won’t be worn. If you are not sure then don’t buy the shoes!
3. Rigidity – a growing foot needs to be allowed to grow. Whilst rigid shoes may provide a solid base and last a long time they won’t allow the feet to function normally. Even in children with flat feet a rigid shoe often isn’t the best option. A combination of exercises and the appropriate supportive insole can ensure the best outcome without the need for solid and thick shoes. If the shoe can’t be bent through the midfoot it’s too rigid!
A rigid shoe with a thick heel may last a long time but can adversely affect foot function.
If you have any questions about school footwear or your child’s feet I can be contacted at South Yarra Spine and Sports Medicine on 9826 1244 or by email at [email protected]
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John Charles graduated with honours in Podiatry from the University in London, and has since worked in both public and private practice. Additionally, he has completed additional training in dry needling and sports massage, and regularly employs these therapies in his podiatry practice. He has extensive experience in video gait analysis, fitting of athletic footwear, and prescribing orthotics and insoles.