Foot Health

Avoiding back to school foot pain

The summer is over. It’s time for back to school. In addition to the other sounds of back to school, the ringing of school bells, the slamming doors, noisy school hallways, there is increasingly complaints of aching or painful feet from students and teachers.

The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) reminds parents and students that foot pain is not normal and efforts should be made to reduce or eliminate it. After wearing flip-flops and sandals all summer, heading back to school and wearing closed toe shoes for eight or more hours can lead to foot pain, especially if the shoes are new and maybe a bit too tight. In addition, the stress from all the walking around campus and sports can also cause foot pain. Now is the time to talk about ways to minimize or even eliminate back to school foot pain.

Heel pain and arch pain are the most common foot complaints among students returning to school. Other common foot problems students can take back to school include inflammation of the Achilles tendon, ingrown toenails, blisters, cuts and scrapes, plantar warts and Athlete’s foot. Teachers on the other hand complain most of heel pain, hammer toes, bunions, callus build-up or painful pinched nerves in the feet. Students and teachers can complain of sprained ankles, broken or sprained toes, or other injury to the foot and ankle. According to Harvard Medical School, people in occupations such as teaching, nursing and law enforcement have a higher risk for painful foot conditions such as bunions and hammer toes. Teachers are often on their feet for long hours so they definitely need to take extra steps to ensure that they are promoting healthy feet.

Most back to school foot pain come from wearing unsupportive shoes which include plantar fasciitis, or pain on the bottom of the foot, and Achilles tendonitis, pain in the back of the heel or pain in the toes if the shoe is too tight or too high. The following are some tips to prevent foot pain when you go back to school.

• Purchase good quality, leather shoes with good arch support, buckles or Velcro straps.

• Always wear socks with shoes.

• Cut nails straight across, and not into the corners to prevent ingrown toenails.

• Practice proper personal hygiene, washing and drying the feet properly every day and wearing clear socks or hoses every day. Applying lotion or cream is good for the feet too.

• Ensure children wear shoes that fit properly, not too tight or too big. Remember one finger’s breadth beyond the end of the toe.

• Check your child’s feet for pain, cuts, redness, swelling, etc., before and after they wear their new school shoes

Teachers are encouraged to follow these tips to prevent having foot pain as well. Teachers are encouraged to look for shoes that are wide enough for their foot and deep enough in the toe area so that their toes can move around freely and comfortably. A round or squared mouth shoe would be best. Shoes should support the arch and have a firm heel counter so the heel does not slip around in the shoe. Open back or sling back shoes are not as supportive. If teachers are allowed to wear a more casual shoe – sneakers or other athletic shoe is recommended. If shoes do not offer adequate support, there are over-the-counter arch supports available or even custom-made orthotics to help. It is common for teachers to go to school in their shoes but take them off and wear flats or flip flops in the classroom. Be careful with this practice, because wearing very flat shoes and flip flops for long periods can lead to heal pain. It is better to wear a lower heel supportive sandal or shoe with at least one inch heel and arch support.

Another reason for foot pain is that sometimes during the summer, people are relatively inactive for long periods in the day and when school opens, they have to walk or be active most of the day. Stretching exercise are good to get the feet ready for back to school and walking. It can also help the child’s feet adjust to wearing shoes again after the long summer break. Stretching exercises can also help to relieve foot pain. Massaging the feet and soaking feet in a whirlpool at the end of the day can also help relax the muscles.

If you or your child complains of foot pain as they go back to school this year it is best to have their feet examined by a podiatrist as soon as possible. The podiatrist will determine the cause of the foot pain and take steps to relieve it. The back-to-school season will always be painful for some students and teachers, but it doesn’t have be foot pain.

 • For more information, email us at or visit To see a podiatrist, telephone 325-2996 for an appointment, visit Bahamas Foot Centre on Rosetta Street, or call 394-5824 for an appointment; or visit Bahamas Surgical Associates Centre on Hilltop Medical Centre off 4th Terrace Collins Avenue. In Grand Bahama, call Lucayan Medical Centre at 373-7400 for an appointment.

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