The Shoes Make the Feet
By Kelsie Sandage
Most children of households with multiple children are used to getting their older siblings hand-me-downs. But could hand-me-down shoes be creating problems with your children’s feet? Parents with multiple children have more than enough to worry about without having to add the worry that their children’s feet may not be developing on track. That is why the physicians at North Florida Foot & Ankle Center want to advise parents to never let their children wear hand-me-down, or used, shoes.
Shoes mold to the wearer’s feet, so then passing them onto another person to wear could cause serious problems down the road. Problems such as hammertoe, in-grown toenails, bunions and it can even lead to weakened muscles and ligaments in their legs. As Podantics.com reports, “By the time a child reaches the age of 12, his or her feet will have reached about 90 percent of their adult length.” Between when a child starts to walk and around 12 years old, the child goes through so many growth spurts and body changes that they really need good feet health to help them make the transition from child to young adult to adult. Below are a few tips to remember when buying shoes for children to reduce the chances of them negatively affecting the development of their feet.
- Have both the child’s feet measured at the store. If one foot is slightly larger than the other, then buy the shoe size to accommodate the larger foot.
- Choose comfortable shoes with a wide heel made from stiff material for the best balance, a built-in arch and cushioning of the insole for support and still be flexible enough to allow for the child’s foot to bend at the ball of their foot.
- At the store, have the child try on both the shoes and walk around. Ask them about their level of comfort. Do not buy shoes that are not comfortable to walk in or that rub against the skin.
- Shoes should not be able to slip off without untying or unlacing them. Do not buy shoes that are too big so that the child will “grow into them.”
- Feel for toe space. There should be at least the width of an adult thumb (about half an inch) between the top of the big toe and end of the shoe. The child should be able to easily wiggle their toes. Do not buy shoes that are tight around the toes.
- Shopping for shoes later in the day can help insure getting shoes that fit better since feet tend to swell throughout the day, so getting shoes that will still fit when the feet are at their biggest will help the shoes last longer.
- If the child already wears prescription orthotics, then take those along to the store to try in the shoes before they are purchased to make sure the orthotics will fit and that child’s feet will fit in the shoes with the orthotics in the shoes as well.
- When the heels have worn away on children’s shoes, then it is time for a new pair. Each season you should examine your shoes to determine if it is time to get a new pair.
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