As summer fades and the start of school approaches, many children will be swapping their summer shoes for winter footwear. So it’s a good time to sit down with your children and discuss why it’s important that they keep their feet healthy, and why they need to make sure their shoes fit well too.
Why foot health is important
Good foot health is essential for children’s overall health and well-being at any time of year. With healthy feet and well-fitting shoes, children can play, run, and jump freely, without pain or discomfort, and also maintain good posture and balance through their childhood.
Teaching your kids the habit of good footcare now when they are young will set them up for life, just like oral care or looking after their skin. Here are some key points to cover when discussing foot health:
How fast will my children’s feet grow?
As every parent knows, children’s feet grow rapidly during their early years, up to two sizes per year! As a result, it is important to regularly check your child’s shoes to make sure they fit properly, whatever their age.
Bear in mind that during a growth spurt, a child may outgrow a pair of shoes in as little as six weeks! Your kids can help by letting you know if their shoes are rubbing their feet, feel too tight, or they have problems with blisters.
A quick word about teenage feet
A teenager’s feet continue to grow during puberty, but at a slower rate, so they may only grow one size per year. However, teenagers may experience pain in their feet due to growth spurts. This is usually temporary and should go away on its own. Teenagers may also experience other foot issues including flat feet, bunions, and plantar fasciitis (heel pain).
If your teenager has painful feet, contact us for an appointment at one of our three Ontario footcare clinics:
In general, teenagers should avoid wearing high heels, as they can put stress on the feet and ankles. However, we know this is a big ask. So try and ensure that any heels they want to buy for college are fitted by a shoe store professional. Perhaps encourage them to do so with a small contribution to the cost!
Why it’s important that shoes fit properly
Shoes that are too small or too big can cause pain, blisters, and other problems. An ill-fitting pair of shoes or boots will also affect how your child walks (their gait) and how they stand (their posture).
Remind your kids that their feet are unique, and that their feet may not be exactly the same size. So, tempting as it may be to buy school or sports shoes online based just on shoe size alone, it’s far better to buy shoes in person from a shoe store.
Top tips for buying children’s shoes
Here are our top tips for buying shoes in store, and yes, it might take a at least an hour to find the right pair!
First, have your child’s feet measured by a qualified shoe salesperson. They will take various measurements to ensure that shoes are the right length, width and (in some cases) height for your child’s foot. The best time to have your child’s feet measured is in the afternoon, when their feet are at their largest.
When it comes to trying on shoes, they should be wide enough at the front and top to allow your child’s toes to wiggle freely. There should also be about a thumb’s width of space between the end of the longest toe and the end of the shoe. Don’t be tempted to buy shoes that they can “grow into”. Shoes that are too loose can cause just as many problems as those that are too tight.
Worn shoe soles and treads
Kids shoes go through a lot of wear and tear, so it’s also important to check their condition, even if your child’s feet haven’t changed size. The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends replacing shoes every 6-12 months, or sooner if they are worn out. Check the bottom of the shoes too: worn soles and treads can be a problem for children, as they can make it difficult to walk and run safely, and will increase the risk of slipping and falling on winter ice.
Ideally, children’s shoes should wear evenly across the whole tread / sole. If not, it make indicate an issue with their gait and balance. At Hunt Footcare, we can help by assessing your child’s gait and suggesting solutions if required, such as slip-in orthotics. Call us to make an appointment.
Teach your kids about foot hygiene
Good foot hygiene is important for keeping feet healthy throughout life. A good routine includes washing their feet daily with soap and water, and drying thoroughly afterwards, especially between the toes. The moisture from damp feet can lead to problems such as athlete’s foot and fungal nail infections.
Trimming toenails straight across is important to prevent ingrown toenails, which can be remarkably painful and can easily become infected. Toenails should be trimmed using clippers and cut such that a part of the white at the top of the nail is left. Cutting toenails too short, or cutting away the corners can cause pain and lead to infection.
Blisters are caused when the foot rubs continually against part of the shoe, and can also be caused by wearing wet footwear or socks. Blisters are fluid-filled sacs that form at the point where the shoe rubs. The most important tip we can give is never “pop” a blister. The fluid sac is there to protect the damaged tissue of the foot. So just apply a bandage or cushioned plaster, keep the affected foot dry, and leave it alone. The blister should naturally heal over in a few days.
Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection of the feet that can cause itching, redness, and scaling of the feet. It is most common in warm, moist areas, such as between the toes. Your child (and yourselves!) can help prevent athlete’s foot by:
- Wearing clean, dry socks
- Avoiding walking barefoot in public places
- Wearing ‘breathable’ socks made from natural fibres such as cotton, wool or bamboo
Teenagers may find their feet become more sweaty as they get older. If so, encourage them to change their socks at least once a day.
Help from Hunt Foot Clinics in Ontario
If you have any concerns about your child’s feet, whatever their age, make an appointment at one of our three Ontario foot care clinics. We understand children’s feet, and will take time to discover exactly what may be causing foot pain or any other foot and ankle issues. We can often treat children’s foot pain with a simple combination of special exercises and measures such as custom orthotics.