Growing feet are developing feet
A baby’s foot contains more cartilage than bone, which, over time, will fuse and harden into adult bones. Although the structure of the foot develops fully by the first 2 years, the bones themselves will not fully develop and harden until around the age of 18. If the cartilage is deformed by badly shaped or rigid shoes, the bones will take on the deformed shape. More than 80% of foot problems, bunions and injuries are a result of misshaped and inflexible shoes. It’s vital that kid’s shoes allow enough room for natural growth, until the foot bones mature. This is why it is crucial to have good shoes early on, so that the bones are allowed to develop naturally.
It is important to note that a child’s foot is not a miniature version of an adult’s foot. In early development, a child’s foot is widest across the toes. If our population wore shoes that were designed with this functional shape from birth, most adults would also have feet with the greatest width located across the toes, and the toes would be perfectly aligned. This doesn’t happen until ages 18-19 for girls, and 20-21 for boys. Simply put; inflexible, poorly shaped shoes are potentially harmful as they restrict the natural movement and development of the foot.
Kids’ feet vs. adults’ feet and the stress they undergo
Kids’ feet endure about 3 times more stress than the average adult foot. This is because of children’s high activity levels, and greater proportion of high impact activities, compared with adults. Because of the high stress that a child’s foot endures, children should wear shoes with good shock absorption, a well-made foot bed, and durable soles. Flexibility is also very important in children’s shoes; it helps them to strengthen the muscles on their own.
Feet are the foundation for your whole body
Doctors argue that most foot problems and pains in adulthood, stem from ill-fitting shoes, or poor foot experiences during childhood. Many problems with posture, walking, and even back pain can be associated with ill-fitting or poorly made shoes.
A child’s arch typically does not develop until puberty. With babies, the arch will usually not be visible or developed for the first 2 years, and even then it is not a fully developed arch. In the early years of childhood, there is often a “fat” pad in the arch area of the foot, which gives the appearance of a flat foot, but this is not the case. It is a natural arch support. You may see at various times your child’s foot turn in or out, or may pronate, due to the fact that the foot arch has not yet fully developed. This is normal, but if they begin to complain about pain, they should be taken to a podiatrist. After the age of 3, look for shoes that include some type of arch support or high-quality foot bed, a well defined heel-contour, padded collars, as well as flexibility, and durability.
Shoes affect sweaty feet, and sweaty feet affect shoes
Children’s feet sweat a lot. A kid’s foot sweats about 2-3 times more than an adult’s foot! This is one reason why kids are known to wear down shoes faster than adults. Sweating in a shoe day after day (especially if they only have one pair), will wear on the soft leather lining on the inside of the shoe. After months, it will cause the actual structure of the shoe to break down, literally from the inside out. Sweat is not only a concern for the durability of a shoe, but also because sweaty feet are more susceptible to catching various feet fungi and infections. For these reasons, it’s important to have a breathable shoe, that allows the moisture and heat from your child’s foot to escape, letting cooler air in. Clean cotton socks also help to keep feet dry and fungus free. If a shoe looks worn from the inside after only a couple months, try changing your kid’s socks twice a day.
Shoes that are too small hinder proper foot growth, decrease circulation, cause blisters, ingrown toenails, and just plain hurt. Shoes that are too big can cause uncomfortable chafing or blisters on your child’s heel, as well as prevent them from being able to grip the ground properly, when running or climbing. Shoes that are too large also cause tripping, risking serious injury.
Soft sole vs. hard sole
There are two opposing opinions regarding soft sole and hard sole shoes. Soft sole enthusiasts argue that there’s no such thing as a shoe with too much structure. If a child wears a shoe with built-in arch support, a heavy solid sole, and lots of structure, the need for the child’s own muscles to work to find balance and strength is diminished. Their feet rely on the strength of the shoe, which impedes the development of muscles in the foot and ankle. Soft sole supporters also argue that a child should be able to feel the ground under his or her feet, as this allows for better balance and grip.
Supporters of hard sole shoes say that shoes with structure help to prevent foot problems such as flat feet, pronated feet (the falling in of an ankle), and the turning in our out of feet. They also argue that a hard sole serves as more protection from harmful objects like glass or sharp rocks, especially if the child is outside or on the playground. Both sides of the debate have valid points, but choosing a side may not be necessary, as many shoe companies have designed shoes that are a happy medium.
Your feet mirror your general health . . . cherish them!