When a child is born their foot is predominantly cartilaginous being very flexible and supple. This can predispose them to abnormal stress on bones and tissues that easily lead to deformity. If the child’s family has a history of foot issues or if the parent has any concerns it is important to have the child’s feet, lower leg and gait assessed by a Podiatrist. Often it is simply a case of monitoring the concern and implementing an intervention strategy when it becomes problematic. However, some foot and leg problems if treated early can prevent complications later in life.
Shoes that fit are vital to a young child’s rapidly growing feet. By the time a child reaches the age of 12, his or her feet will have reached about 90 percent of their adult length. Therefore, development of a child’s feet is especially important in these first 12 years of life and it is the reason Podiatrists consider the early years to be essential in the development of feet and foot problems.
Feet grow on average, 17 sizes during the school years with the average child spending around 30 hours per week in their school shoes growth and development of the feet is influenced by the correct fit and function of an appropriate shoe for the individual foot type. Children who continuously wear incorrect shoes can develop many problems in later life and exacerbate inherited foot problems. Common problems such as hammer toes, caused by shoes which are too big or too small, ingrown toenails, cracked or fissured heels from continued use of sling back shoes, and corns under the toenails can be prevented by selecting the right shoe.
The Importance of Fitted School Shoes
The most important factor for children’s shoes is that they fit. This means always having them fitted professionally by someone trained in children’s shoe fitting. Children should also be measured for shoes approximately every three months. This does not necessarily mean they need new shoes, but if they are measured every three months we can be assured that the current shoes are still fitting. A correctly fitting shoe should have a thumb space clearance at the end of the longest toe, and should not compress the sides of the front of the foot.
Having children’s feet regularly measured as they grow to ensure shoes fit properly. This will help prevent foot problems when older, particularly if there is a family history.
Podiatrists recommend professionally fitted supportive, lace-up, leather shoes as the best option for school footwear. Leather offers durability, is easy to clean and allows feet to breathe.