Kids’ feet grow and change quickly, which means you’ll likely be shoe shopping this back-to-school season. As you head to the store, consider these tips and insights from the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS).
• Find the right fit: “Your child’s feet can grow up to two sizes in six months, so you need to account for rapid growth when buying shoes,” says Dr. Michael Coyer, DPM, FACFAS, a foot and ankle surgeon and Fellow Member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.
Dr. Coyer cautions against the temptation to buy oversized shoes though, as they can cause the foot to slide forward, putting excessive pressure on the toes. “A good fit is about a finger’s width from the end of the shoe to the tip of the big toe,” he says.
On the other hand, don’t wait too long to replace tight shoes. Tight shoes can cause blisters, corns and calluses on toes, blisters on the back of the heels and ingrown nails, which can become infected. If you notice signs of infection such as pain, redness or fluid draining from the area, schedule an appointment with a foot and ankle surgeon, who can perform a simple, safe in-office procedure to remove the affected area of the nail.
• Replace worn-out shoes: Because shoes lose shock absorption over time, wearing worn-out shoes can elevate the risk for heel pain, Achilles tendonitis and even ankle sprains and stress fractures.
“Inspect old shoes and replace any that lack sufficient cushioning and arch support, or have excessive wear to the bottom or around the edges of the sole,” says Dr. Coyer. “When shopping, don’t assume a new pair will offer proper support. Check to see that the toe box is wide enough and the shoe doesn’t bend in the middle of the sole.”
• Protect young athletes: “Every new season, we see an increase in ankle injuries among young athletes,” says Dr. Coyer.
Help prevent sports-related injuries by equipping your child with proper footwear this fall. Start each sports season with new shoes and always buy the right shoe for the sport. You can also protect young athletes by never allowing them to play through foot pain. Foot pain isn’t normal and if it lasts for more than a few days and interferes with normal activities, seek medical attention.
• Consider other factors: Children with flat feet need shoes with a wide toe box, maximum arch support and shock absorption. The best shoes for flat feet are stiff-soled, lace-up shoes that have enough depth for an orthotic insert, if necessary.
“A common persisting myth is that children will ‘grow out of’ foot problems. But foot problems developed in childhood can become more serious if left unaddressed,” says Dr. Coyer. “One of the most important steps you can take to prevent pediatric foot issues is by taking time during the back-to-school season to buy footwear that fits well and offers good support. Further, having your child evaluated by a foot and ankle surgeon member of ACFAS at the first sign of trouble can help reduce the likelihood of worsening problems and help keep your child active.”
For more back-to-school tips, information on foot and ankle health, and to find a foot and ankle surgeon near you, visit FootHealthFacts.org, the patient education website for the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.