Does Your Child's Shoe Fit?
The school year has begun for most Bay Area children. Parents have been bombarded with information about how important regular exercise is to their child's health. They don't, however, hear as much about how to care for the part of a child's body that bears the brunt of this physical activity -- his or her feet.
To stay healthy, it's critical that our children exercise -- whether it be in the form of walking to school or participating in sports. It's equally important that children be equipped with the right shoes and receive appropriate medical care to keep their feet healthy.
Children's feet grow quickly, so parents should make sure they always wear the right shoe size with plenty of room for growth. This may require buying a new pair of shoes every few months. Shoes should never be handed down from child to child, but purchased to fit. Improper footwear can aggravate pre-existing foot conditions such as injury, deformity, illness or hereditary problems.
When shopping, search for reasonably priced, flexible, well-ventilated shoes. Of course, style is also a major concern among school-aged children. Expensive shoes are a fashion statement, but it's more important to purchase them for good foot health. It may be better to purchase two $50 pairs than one $100 pair, so the child can alternate shoes and avoid wearing them out too quickly.
Generally, children's shoes should bend in the arch instead of at the ball of the foot to avoid strained arches. Avoid poorly constructed skateboarding shoes, cleats and campus shoes, which can stretch the heel cord and cause pain.
For the millions of American children who participate in team and individual sports, buying the right shoe is critical. Sports that require a lot of running and turning can result in sprains and fractures. It's important that children get shoes specially designed for their sport, whether it be soccer, football, basketball or running. For a general physical education class, a cross-training or multipurpose shoe should be fine.
If your child is having problems or experiencing discomfort while walking or participating in sports, arrange for a thorough examination by a podiatrist. This examination could uncover a condition requiring immediate treatment.