As the summer holidays draw to a close it’s an important time to think about the foot health of children. While the start of the school may bring tears and tantrums, it also means less time barefoot and more time spent in enclosed shoes.
Our podiatrists have some simple advice to help parents work through the vast array of schools shoes on the market.
1. Fit (length)
The single most important factor to consider when purchasing new school shoes is the fit for the child. Not enough room and your child’s toes will soon be jammed at the end of the shoe and too much room will result in slipping at the heel and instability for the whole foot. So how much room is just right? Use the breadth of your thumb nail as a guide. About 12mms at the end of the shoe is the correct amount to allow room for growth while still providing a firm fit. Encourage your child to lift his/ her toe to touch the upper of the shoe and gently press down from above to find the most distal point. A single thumb nail should lie between the point of the toe and the end of the shoe.
2. Fit (width)
Often overlooked in the fit of a school shoe is the width of the child’s foot. A simple technique used in our podiatry clinics is to remove the inner sole from the shoe and place it on the ground. Have your child stand on the inner sole and look for any part of the foot that is overhanging. This is most common at the forefoot (ball of the foot) and signifies the shoe is too narrow. If the shoe does not have a removable inner sole, apply the same principle with the foot in the shoe. Always remember to do this standing! Many shoe brands (e.g. Clarks and Ascent) now offer multiple width fittings so don’t be afraid to ask the retail assistant about this.
A school shoe with ‘good’ support is one that has a firm heel counter (the back part of the shoe), a stiff sole through the arch that only bends at the ball of the foot and some kind of adjustable fixation i.e. laces, buckles or velcro. If your child wears orthotics, another consideration may be a removable inner sole for extra room in the shoe.
Quality often comes with a price tag, but are the extra dollars justified? School shoe brands such as ‘Ascent’ combine the durable materials of a tradition school shoe, with the cushioning and support of a running shoe. They typically cost a little more than other brands but will undoubtedly last long/ wear better, saving you money in the long run. If $80 – $110 for a pair of school shoes if beyond your price range, IT IS STILL OKAY! As long as you stick to the supportive features above and ensure CORRECT FIT, your child will be running around the oval and jumping on the playground like no other! Other reputable brands to consider are Clarkes, Ecco, Harrison and Start Rite.
Still think you need more help?
Here are some of the stores we think offer the best service and advice: The Athlete’s Foot, Active Feet, Ann Lewis Shoes (in Hawthorn) and Williams Shoes.
Is an appointment with a podiatry necessary? If you have noticed abnormal/ excessive wear patterns on your child’s shoes from the previous year, or your child is complaining of foot or ankle pain, consult one of our expert podiatrists today.