Are Your Kids Shoes Wearing You Out?

It is back to school for the second half of the year and already some children have worn their shoes to within a few footsteps of the expected mileage. Some kids just wear their shoes down through activity and sometimes through poor foot posture / control inside their shoes. Early in the year we as parents are bombarded with lots of good information about getting our kids shoes correctly fitted for their foot-type and size, but we need to be vigilant for the latter half of the year also for wear and fit. Your little-ones feet will grow 90% of their adult size in their first 12 or so years and will go through 17 full shoe sizes! It is not uncommon during a year with very active growth spurts to have to upsize your child’s shoes.

Our children are spending around 30 hours a week in their school shoes, which is in excess of 1200 hours each year or 15,000 hours during their total school years! And as their feet are developing at such an incredible pace, it’s imperative that kids wear school shoes specifically designed to support the requirements of their growing feet. Wearing correctly fitted school shoes reduces the risk of injury, improves comfort and can enhance performance when they are at play. Because of the greater flexibility in a child’s foot compared to an adult’s foot, childhood foot problems are less common than adult foot problems. That doesn’t mean that foot pain and even foot injuries don’t still occur when a child routinely plays hard in overly flimsy shoes. Children may not be mature enough to realize that a foot condition is developing until the pain can no longer be ignored and thus may not receive a diagnosis as early as they should. Just like adults, active kids need shoes that provide adequate arch support and heel support and absorb shock to reduce stress to joints while they exercise. The major difference between an adult’s and a child’s therapeutic school / running shoe is that a child’s shoe tends to provide less motion control to allow little feet to continue to grow and develop without unnatural hindrance.

Most kids are actively participating in winter sports regimes through clubs or at school, and have given their school shoes a right hammering by now. The leather on our boys school shoes has had a severe beating and already the forefoot and heels are showing some signs of wear. As parents we all need to have a look at our kids shoes and make sure that the wear is occurring evenly or somewhat near enough for the type of activity the your little one participates mostly in. This wear pattern may well be an early indicator of some more complex foot and leg conditions that create imbalances during growth.

Clinically we see children with lower limb complaints from activity in poorly supporting shoes and even hip and spinal issues arising from the similar footwear issues. It is important at this stage of the year, with winter sports in full flight, to monitor your child’s wear and tear on their shoes and their body. Just like checking your tyre wear on the car, your child’s shoes may indicate an alignment issue. This may indicate some preventive measures in the form of better footwear for control or even an orthotic intervention for more serious foot control issues. We do need to be mindful in the growing child of some less common complications arising from their feet such as spinal curvature and hip weakness as a result of foot posture or leg length discrepancies. School shoes can even tell a story though wear and tear of postural imbalances from heavy schoolbags worn incorrectly resulting in hip and spinal pressures that are imbalanced.

If you have concerns about your child’s feet or lower limb biomechanics, contact an experienced physiotherapist or podiatrist who can guide you on the correct course of action.

Craig Steele is a sports physiotherapist at Hinteractive Physio. He can be contacted on 5442 5556.

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