Shoe shopping for your child can be one that well, let’s face it, as a parent we dread. However, while this task is not usually the most fun thing you can do in a day, it certainly may be one of the most important. Children grow at a rapid rate so most kids are ready for new shoes every 3-4 months.
Properly fitting shoes can prevent all kinds of injuries and disease. From in-grown toenails and blisters to fungus, bunions, pinched nerves and even arthritis—the right shoe can make a difference today, tomorrow and for years to come for your child. Further, while avoiding what may be painful or costly foot problems, healthy feet can help avoid other ailments such as shin splints, knee and back pain. So how do you choose the right shoes for someone who is into everything and might not yet be able to know what fits correctly?
For starters, wait until the last minute….No, seriously! Go to the shoe store at the end of the day, when their feet are naturally slightly swollen. Make sure to bring the old shoes, a pair of socks they would normally wear as well as any orthotics/ inserts or ankle braces that may be needed. Note any previous likes, dislikes, problems or injuries for yourself and/or sales person.
Take the insert out of the old shoes. By looking at the impression the foot has made over time you can see exactly where your child puts pressure on their feet. Deep depressions on the outside areas of the foot will want a more “cushy” shoe where imprints resembling a more flat foot will want a higher stability shoe.
Remember, if you have any questions you can always ask your podiatrist. Leather, suede and canvas make the best athletic shoes because they’re more breathable and durable than synthetic alternatives. This means, they will save you money while reducing odor and things like athlete’s foot.
So, how do you measure? Start by having your child put their socks ON! Shoes are worn with socks. Therefore, measuring with socks will give you the most accurate picture. Now have your child stand up on both feet like normal being sure to check the size on both feet.
Believe it or not, some kids can actually be a full size different from one foot to the other. Now you have a starting point. There should be ½ inch from the longest toe to the end of the shoe (about the width of your thumb). Keep in mind if you press on the top of the toes to check length, children have a tendency to curl their toes up. Having your child wiggle their toes can be a more fun way for them to show you length while also giving you extra ways to see how the shoe feels.
Give each pair of shoes about 10 minutes. Let your kids jump up and down, have them walk around the store. The foot should not slide back and forth inside the shoe when stopping or starting. Watch out for slipping around the heel, or anything that may be rubbing or poking.
In small children, take the shoe and sock off and look at their feet for redness to see exactly where any irritation may be occurring. (Note: the top of a toddler’s foot tends to be thicker than an older child’s.) A properly fitting shoe should not need to be broken in.
Another indicator that a shoe fits properly is it bends at the ball of the foot where the toes bend. If the shoe bends farther forward or behind where the toes bend, it means the shoe is either too big or too small. This may result in unneeded stress elsewhere on the foot.
Make sure for sports with specialty shoes you invest in the proper kind of shoe. Different sport shoes add additional support to different areas of the foot for the types of motion required in that sport.
For instance, running shoes are made for forward propelling motion with lots of grip while tennis shoes support side-to-side motion with less surface gripping. Because of this, wearing a running shoe to play tennis is dangerous!
In cleats, look for short spikes with multiple spikes on the heel to avoid heel pain and injury to the knee or ankle.
Have more questions? Then give us a call! Here at North Texas Foot & Ankle we are dedicated to happy feet for a happy life! We are always here to help so you can get out there, be active, and have fun.