Back to School Footwear … Getting the right fit

I have been seeing the status updates on pages of many moms on Face Book. Back to school shopping irritates persons to high heaven… Though some of you may have shopped already, a number of us Trinis are last minute people, so this would be a guide.

The real countdown is now on; and school vacation holidays would soon be over! It’s that time when parents seek out a wide array of school supplies and stylish new fashions for their children. One of the most important purchases on any parent’s back to school shopping list is a pair of new shoes. For many parents, back to school shoe shopping may seem easy, but several important factors should be considered.

Issues/Problems that May Surface

Before you throw out the old shoes or sneakers, check them for signs of uneven wear which can indicate a foot problem. If you see uneven wear, monitor this as you may need to visit a podiatrist/chiropodist/foot health practitioner. Also, do keep these recommendations in mind:

  1. Always take your child with you when you go shoe shopping, so they can try them on and check for comfort. Uncomfortable shoes can cause pain and foot injuries.
  2. Shop in the late afternoon. Since feet swell during the day, trying on shoes later in the day will ensure that they fit comfortably all day long.
  3. Get your child’s feet measured before choosing shoes. While a child is growing, his or her shoe and sock sizes may change as frequently as every few months. Be sure to fit shoes for the larger foot.
  4. Carry any socks that will be worn with the shoes for a proper fit.
  5. Feel the insides of both shoes to make sure seams are smooth, with no rough edges to rub against the feet.
  6. Don’t buy shoes that are uncomfortable. Shoes should not need breaking in, or have to be stretched.
  7. Don’t hand down footwear. A shoe that fits one child comfortably may not be right for the other child’s feet. Sharing shoes also carries the risk of spreading the fungus that causes athlete’s foot and nail infections.

Tips for Choosing the Footwear

Whether you are looking for sneakers for your athlete, or actual shoes for your girly-girl, the shoe you choose should haveShopping for shoes the following features:

  1. Flexibility – Young children need shoes with flexible soles. The shoe should bend where your child’s foot bends, at the ball of the foot and toes.
  2. A stiff heel – The heel counter, the material used to stiffen the heel, should not bend or collapse when you press on the sides.
  3. A rigid middle – While the toe should be flexible, the middle should not twist.
  4. Toe room – Your child should have ample room in the toe box area, however, don’t buy shoes too big.
  5. Breathable materials – Breathable materials will keep the feet dry, while preventing foot odour and fungal infections.
  6. Cushioning – The insole of the shoe should be cushioned for comfort.
  7. Lightweight – A heavy shoe can impact your child’s gait.

The right shoe can prevent foot and ankle injuries. If your child complains of foot pain or discomfort do the necessary to address it.

This article was written in Trinidad, but by the time it is published, I would be in England, as it’s ‘Back to School’ for me too. I’m starting my degree in Podiatry. Yes a long journey, but it’s a sacrifice to be of greater service to you. My column would continue though, as there is always a foot ailment to focus on. Additionally, I’ll be giving scenarios encountered here as I do my clinical and hospital placements.

So what do you do? Visit the Clinic… There is another competent Foot Health Practitioner on board, in the person of Karen Rowley, who is also English trained. To all students new or returning, the journey ahead would be filled with interesting twists and turns; embrace it, keep your focus, and all will be well!

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