It’s that time of year for kids to head back into the classroom after their holidays and not only hit the books but also the schoolyard in their new shoes! Whilst some parents may love the thought of their children returning to school, some may dread the “back to school” shopping- especially when it comes to choosing the correct shoes.
So what makes a good school shoe? Andrew Papas, Director and Principal Physiotherapist of ‘SOS Physiotherapy’ let us know what is most important.
By Andrew Papas
So, what makes a good school shoe? Before answering this, let’s consider some facts: Children spend around 30 hours a week in their school shoes, or more than 15,000 hours during their school years, so it’s vital shoes are fitted properly. Also, children’s feet are still growing and the bones in their feet are still developing. In the first 11 years of a child’s life, feet will grow through around 17 shoe sizes, up until they’re 18 years of age. Around half of the kids will have flat feet and a fifth may have high arches. As such, shoes need to be stable with good cushioning, providing internal and external support as ill-fitting shoes can lead to problems in adulthood.
So here are some useful tips to consider when deciding on a good school shoe:
- Ensure there is a child’s thumb width between the end of the shoe and the end of the longest toe (not necessarily the big toe). Your child should be able to move their toes freely, the shoe shouldn’t hurt and there should be no bulges from the toes on either side of the shoe.
- The widest part of the foot should correspond with the widest part of the shoe.
- The fastening mechanism (preferable laces) should hold the heel firmly in the back of the shoe.
- The sole should not twist and should only bend in the way your foot does. It should only bend at the toes and never bend or twist in the middle.
- The heel should be snug but comfortable and the back part of the shoe strong and stable.
- While you might decide to head out bright and early to get your child’s shoes fitted, bear in mind that it’s best to go during the late afternoon, as our feet often get a little more swollen by the end of the day. That way, you’ll get school shoes fitted when your child’s feet are at their biggest.
- Quality shoes last longer, and yes… will cost more! While school shoes are another necessary expense, bear in mind that buying better quality shoes might actually save you money, as they won’t wear down so easily and need to be replaced multiple times during the school year. Look for soles made from rubber and double-stitching around the toe area that will give shoes a longer life.
- Never buy bigger. Although it can be tempting to size up so that shoes last longer, the fact is that if children’s shoes are too big, it can cause bad walking habits and even injury.
Finally, don’t be quick to brush children’s aches and pains as ‘growing pains. Seek the advice of a health professional such as a Physiotherapist or Podiatrist if children are complaining of pain in their feet, heel, knee or legs, have unexplained episodes of tripping and falling, or have signs of uneven shoe wear, or one shoe that wears down before the other.
*Andrew is available for private consultations through his clinic located at 15 Lewins St, Earlwood NSW 2206, Sydney