September 2010 – Patient Sympathy

August 2010 – Back to School Shoewear

July 2010 – Womens Shoewear

June 2010 – Summer Foot Care

May 2010 – Skin

April 2010 – Ingrown Toenails

March 2010 – Barefoot Running

February 2010 – Pediatric Flatfoot

January 2010 – Being a Compliant Patient

December 2009 – Raynaud’s Disease

November 2009 – NA

October 2009 – Shin Splints

September 2009 – Dealing with Corns and Callouses

August 2009 – Relieving Painful Gout

July 2009 – Caring for Plantar Warts

June 2009 – Bunions

May 2009 – Children's Heel Pain

March/April 2009 – Heel Pain

February 2009 – Shoe Fitting

January 2009 – Nail Fungus

December 2008 – Neuroma

November 2008 – Diabetic Foot Care


August 2010

Published in - Healthy Lifestyles

Who, with school-aged children, doesn’t just love that Staples commercial with the “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” song playing this time of the summer? Even if you don’t have children, it is a pretty funny marketing idea. Back to school means shopping not only for supplies but clothes, as well. This can include school shoes or sneakers.

As a father of a toddler and newborn, I have recently spent quite a bit of time examining children’s shoewear. In addition, I keep questions and concerns of the parents of my pediatric patients in mind, while doing so. Usually I find that I am not happy with the selection any shoe dept or store that sells children’s shoes, with a few exceptions. I hope that after this article, couples newly indoctrinated into parenthood, as well as the veteran parents of younger children, come away with a better understanding of what type of shoe wear to purchase for your young child for this school year.

Many parents of my pediatric patients frequently ask about the “right” shoe for their child. My stock answer for parents is “buy the most flexible, nothing-to-it kind of shoe you can find”. Or another way to say it is, flimsy, flimsy, flimsy… any shoe that you can bend with one hand is a good choice.
Why? Read on…

We humans were not made to walk on concrete but on more forgiving ground. Even so, we have at our disposal a unique anatomical structure and biomechanic system which allows our body to adapt quite exquisitely to the ground on which we tread, being it walking, running or climbing. Of late, there are numerous articles touting barefoot running to be a more efficient way to run that also decreases the pounding that your body takes, especially the lower extremities. At first glance this would seem counterintuitive. But, with understanding of the mechanics of the lower legs and the change in the overall gait pattern, one can appreciate the change from a more rearfoot heel strike to mid or forefoot landing. And, as anyone versed in running biomechanics will tell you that this truly is a more natural way to run. It also has a tendency to cause less injuries overall.

Why is this important and/ or pertinent to children and shoewear? Well, when we are learning to stand, balance, walk and run, the body’s systems-nerves, muscles, joints, tendon, ligaments all work in conjunction and work on a feedback system. The nerves of the feet act as a sensor which informs the brain that certain muscles, ligaments etc, need to be put into action to keep us standing upright, to lean forward so we can walk or to guide us over the uneven ground we’re attempting to traverse.

If you’ve ever watched someone walk barefoot you’ll notice that the toes “grab” the ground when they walk. When we have shoe wear on, there is less of a need to use the muscles of the feet and legs to keep our balance (since footwear increases the base on which we stand). For example: ever walk or run on the beach during a vacation for a few miles? Were your feet or legs a little achy the next day or two? It’s because you forced the muscles to work harder than they’re used to. This might seem strange that I am suggesting shoewear for your child that makes their muscles work harder, but in the long run the idea is to allow the muscles to strengthen naturally and develop an overall better balance as they grow.

I will forever cringe at the parent who feels it is of the utmost importance to have their infant, toddler or young adult in a sneaker that has a popular name brand sneaker that adults wear. Just because a shoe is a name brand, doesn’t mean it is the right choice for your child’s growth and development. On the contrary actually, from what I’ve seen in stores. When purchasing shoes or sneakers, please don’t feel like your skimping on the quality of the shoe because it’s not a name brand. They offer no real benefit to the child, their feet or to their development. Some can actually hamper the growth by not allowing the natural growth and development of the muscles of the feet and legs. The bottom line is you want to purchase shoewear that is more of a covering for the feet for protection and are extremely flexible. This is primarily for the newborn to pre-school age.

For the older child, a bit sturdier shoe is fine but again, it does not need to have a thick sole with a lot of cushioning.

What size to buy
Fitting shoewear for children is truly no different from shoe fitting for an adult. It should be comfortable, be the correct size including the right length, width and depth. When purchasing sneakers for your child, make certain that they have adequate room across the forefoot or, toe box. This is typically the widest part of the foot and needs to have enough room for the foot to spread when stepping down and propulsing forward during walking or running.

A good way to check to make certain that the shoe will accommodate your childs foot is to place the sneaker on the floor and with the socks they would typically wear, have them step on the floor next to the sneaker. If there is an obvious difference in the width of the two (usually the foot) the shoe/ sneaker is most likely too narrow for their foot type. Also, there really shouldn’t be any “breaking in” period. And, yes, you should purchase all shoewear at the end of the day because of the fact most people’s feet will be larger in the late afternoon and evening.

When trying shoewear on, and this goes not only for children but for adults also, check the fit of the shoe and not the size. Just because your daughter or son’s last shoe size was a 5 does not necessarily mean he’s a 6. And for the parent who swears he or she is the same size they were in high school, you most likely are NOT. Sorry, it’s not my fault. Blame Mother Nature, or for you mom’s, your children.

Signs on improper fit:
-red or bruised areas
-scrapes over bony prominences
-complaint from child
-reluctance of child to wear the shoes
-the heel slips out
-The child is sliding in the shoe