It’s almost time for the majority of schools to re-open and parents are still busy buying and checking school supplies from their shopping lists. Even though most parents don’t think about it, it is critical for them to remember that school shoes are one of the most important purchases they will make for their children this school year.
Properly constructed, supportive and well-fitting school shoes can greatly reduce your child’s risk of injury from blisters to sprains, strains and even fractures. Wearing foot-friendly shoes keeps your child’s feet healthy during the entire school year, encourages physical activity, and decreases childhood obesity. If a child’s feet hurt, they are less likely to participate in sports and other activities that keep them moving and physically fit.
Shopping for school shoes can be a daunting task. One easy way to determine if a child’s shoes are appropriate is to perform this simple – “1, 2, 3, shoe test”.
1 – Press both sides of the shoe heel, making sure that it does not collapse when pushed on.
2 – Check toe flexibility. The shoe should bend with your child’s toes, but should not be too stiff or bend too much. The shoe should never bend in the middle.
3 ‑ Grab the shoe by the front and back and twist gently. A foot-friendly shoe should never twist easily in the middle.
Here are some shoe shopping tips to help you buy the best shoe for your child.
• Go shoe shopping early – but not too early. When shopping for school shoes it is best to start early to beat the rush and stress. This gives you a much more hassle-free shop and also provides you with more choices. There is nothing worse than rushing to buy something when most shops are out of stock which is more likely to occur if you go the week before school starts. However, make sure you don’t go too early as there is a chance your child could have a growth spurt and outgrow the shoe by the time school begins. It is best to purchase shoes several weeks before school reopens.
• Take your child shoe shopping. Let a child have a say in the shoe buying process but as a parent you decide on the best shoe for your child’s feet.
• Buy shoes in the afternoon. Feet tend to expand throughout the day so they will fit better if bought in the afternoon.
• Examine the shoe, especially the heels. Children often wear through the heels of shoes faster than outgrowing the shoes themselves. Uneven heel wear can indicate a foot problem that should be checked by a podiatrist.
The best school shoe should have a firm heel counter (stiff material on either side of the heel), adequate cushioning of the insole, and a built-in arch. It should bend at the ball of the foot but not in the middle of the shoe.
• The child’s feet should be measured while he or she is standing and fully weight-bearing. Always have both feet measured for length, and if they are two different sizes, buy shoes to fit the larger foot.
• A properly fitted shoe should be approximately a half-inch longer than the longest toe. The child should be able to comfortably wiggle their toes in the shoe.
• Remember socks when shopping. Make sure your child tries on the shoes with the type of socks they will be worn with to ensure a proper fit and have your child walk around the store wearing the shoe with the type of socks they will be wearing with the shoe. Ask your child if he or she feels any pressure spots in the shoe. Feel the inside of the shoe for any staples or irregular stitching or glue that could cause irritation. Look for signs of irritation on the foot after the shoe is worn.
• Avoid slip-on shoes. Shoes should be held on the foot with laces, straps or Velcro fastenings.
• Heel height should be no more than one-and-a-half inches, and lower for younger children.
• The heel should have a broad base and be made from a shock-absorbing material.
• Natural material such as leather in the upper part of the shoe is best.
• The toe area of the shoe should be a round or square mouth rather than pointed and should be deep enough to allow the toes to move freely and not be squashed.
• Pick shoes that do not need a “break-in” period. The shoes you purchase should be comfortable right away. If shoes are too tight, they can cause blisters, calluses or corns. This is critical especially for children with diabetes.
• If your child wears prescription orthotics or shoe inserts prescribed by a podiatrist, you should take them along to wear when fitting and buying shoes.
By following these guidelines, parents can be confident that their children’s feet will be protected and safe, to and from school, as well as during the busy school day.
• For more information or to see a podiatrist, visit Bahamas Foot Centre, Rosetta Street, telephone 325-2996; or Bahamas Surgical Associates Centre, Albury Lane, telephone 394-5820; or email email@example.com; or visit www.apma.org.