Local Podiatrist Dr Nic Lange knows all too well that a big part of going back to school is buying a new pair of school shoes and the right footwear and foot support can help children to maintain their active lifestyles without pain.
Most parents know, buying children’s school shoes can be a challenge as they can sometimes wear out their shoes in 6 weeks, grow out of them in one school term, or even lose them!
However, school shoes are a particularly important purchase because children are likely to be wearing these shoes for 35 to 40 hours per week
Dr Lange, of Galleria Podiatry, says buying the correct pair of shoes for kids depends on what activities the shoe will be used for.
“A cross-trainer is a durable sports shoe for multiple activities including running, court sports, general PE and everyday wear” he said. “Cross-Trainers are generally the most durable shoe on the market and are a popular option for a school shoe” he added.
A running shoe is usually the lightest and most comfortable, however, Dr Lange warns that parents need to be aware that a running shoe will wear out a lot faster if worn for court sports such as tennis or netball.
Ensuring the correct fit is also very important. “One thumb width between the end of the longest toe and the end of the shoe is a good general rule”, Dr Lange said.
He also encourages parents to visit a shoe store that provides a professional measuring service which will ensure that shoes have the correct length, width and depth for the child’s feet.
Dr Lange also suggests that parents ask the child if the shoes feel comfortable as they are often the best judge of a good fit. “Make sure your child can wriggle their toes, and check that the shoe is firm around the heels and only bends across the ball of the foot”, he said.
Many children wear hand-me-downs simply because of how quickly they can grow but according to Dr Lange “parents really need to invest in new shoes for each stage of growth as second-hand shoes will have taken the shape of the other child’s feet, and that isn’t healthy for foot development.”
A good choice of footwear can also help to minimise the effect of faulty foot biomechanics, such as whether the feet roll in or out.
Children whose feet tend to roll in or out excessively, can find that this puts extra strain on surrounding soft tissues, contributing to problems such as Sever’s disease (pain in the back of the heel bone) or growing pains (aching legs mostly in the late afternoon or evening).
Faulty foot function can also be a factor in pain further up the body, such as in the knees, hips or low back.
Dr Lange is urging parents with school-aged children to see a Podiatrist before they purchase their school shoes to get some basic education on choosing the correct school shoes, and advice with regard to further podiatry needs that may be identified.