Shoes for Kids | The Podiatrist and yourfeetnz

when is it a good time for children to start wearing shoes

I spend a lot of time talking to adults about feet and shoes, and the conversation naturally drifts onto their children’s shoes.

For years, we have been given advice from shoe manufacturers and retailers, coaches, friends, parents and grannies about the ‘right’ shoe for children.

Invariably, especially if you are of a certain age, you would have been told that solid, supportive shoes are best. However, that advice needs to be reviewed.

The human foot contains three arches, 26 bones, 33 joints, over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments and thousands of nerve endings, and can tolerate impacts more than three times greater than your body weight. When you walk and run, it is your foot that absorbs the impact, stops you from collapsing, and pushes you forwards. As Leonardo da Vinci said ‘the human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art’.

What are the differences between a young child’s foot and leg against your own? The next time you see a toddler, have a look at the shape of her feet. You’ll notice that they are almost triangular: narrow at the heel, and widest at the toes. Compare that to your own. I bet they are more diamond shaped, with the widest part across the base of your toes, narrowing in to the tips. Now think about the shape of your shoes, most shoes are widest at the base of the toes, narrowing to a point at the front.

Also, watch the way small children can squat, with their bum almost resting on their heels, and stay there for as long as they like. Try to do that yourself without lifting your heels, and chances are you’ll only make it halfway down, or fall backwards. What is the significance of this?

Well, most shoes these days have a heel, even kids shoes. In fact the heel in children’s shoes is, relatively speaking, much bigger than a heel in adults’ shoes. Think about it. A 2cm heel in a shoe that is only 15cm long creates a much bigger angle than in one that is 25cm. Just as if you were to wear high heels all day your calf muscles would get tight, so too will a child’s. Over-tight calf muscles stop you from being able to squat fully by reducing your ankle movement.

When you have a raised heel in your shoe, it pushes your toes hard into the toe-box. If that toe-box is narrow, the toes will get squashed together. What happens to women who wear high heels all the time? Bunions.

Now, did you know that the bones in your child’s feet don’t fully harden until their late teens? This means that over-tight shoes in childhood have the effect of deforming the shape of the foot from the outset.

Research has shown that shoes also affect the gait of children. With shoes, children walk faster by taking longer steps with greater ankle and knee movement, and less foot movement. When running, shoes encourage children to land on their heels and spend more time on the ground on each stride. Whilst not showing a definite cause, Harvard University research has shown that runners who land on their heels have twice the injury rate of runners who land on their forefoot.

A review of children’s shoes and gait, published in the journal Pediatrics outlined the following factors: optimum foot development happens while barefoot; stiff and compressive footwear may cause deformity, weakness and loss of mobility in the foot; the term ‘corrective shoes’ is a misnomer, and; shoe selection for children should be based on a barefoot model.

What does all this mean for parents when looking for shoes? Well, the roomier, flatter and more flexible, the better. Essentially, the closer the shoe is to not wearing shoes at all, the less it will affect your child’s foot development. Better still, around the house and when the weather is good enough, let them go barefoot: their feet will get stronger and they’ll love it!

For all your foot problems, visit The Podiatrist

www.thepodiatrist.co.nz

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About Your feet and podiatry with Caron Orelowitz | Registered Podiatrist - Auckland

Caron Orelowitz was born in Johannesburg and emigrated to New Zealand in 1997. She studied Podiatry at The Witwatersrand Technikon and was in private practice in South Africa for a few years, before setting off to ‘the other side of the world’. Auckland Podiatry. Since 1998 she has been helping people of all ages who have problems with their feet, from the elderly, to sports people, and those who just want some TLC for the feet. At present she has 5 practices (with a satellite Diabetes Practice out West Auckland), owns a children’s shoe shop (Scooters in Remuera), and tries to fit in some exercise when time permits. Caron is an active member of Podiatry New Zealand (NZ), and holds the position of Treasurer for the Auckland Branch, as well as representing the Northern Region on the Executive Council. She is registered under HPCAA (Health Practitioner Competency Assurance Act), and is often seen attending (and organizing) Seminars and workshops. Caron has a special interest in Paediatrics and can often be seen on the floor showing children some exercises. ACC registered Discounts for Super Gold Card Holders, members of Grey Power and Green Prescription participants. www.thepodiatrist.co.nz www.yourfeet.co.nz

Posted on January 25, 2016, in Contact a Podiatrist, Kids n Motion, What is a Podiatrist, Your feet and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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