It’s January already and not long until our Melbourne schools are once again packed with eager young minds! With 952,177 students enrolled in school in Victoria last year – and even more this year – the need for good, reliable and comfortable footwear for growing feet is as important as ever.
Unfortunately, in our experience, we’ve noticed that there are a few common mistakes that are made when buying school shoes. We thought we’d help you avoid these hiccups and made our list of top 5 mistakes we see!
Even if you have purchased new shoes the same week and so are certain of their size, always bring your kids to the fitting. Different brands of footwear can have variations in size, both length and width. This means that a comfy size 6 in one brand may not be wide enough, long enough or be uncomfortable in another brand. Variations in shoe materials and features, such as having a low-set heel versus the slight heel that school shoes often have can also affect comfort. School shoe stores often have measuring devices that are brand-specific and free to use. Staff are also often trained in getting the right fit, so take advantage of their complementary expert service!
School shoes are designed and built in the knowledge that kids are going to be in them for long hours, day in and day out. The materials are designed to last and see kids through every season. They’re designed to be durable, comfortable and supportive. Unfortunately, not all shoes are built with this same use in mind. Black ballet flats (or similar shoes) that sometimes pass as school shoes, typically offer little support and stability for the feet. Shoes like these are much less durable, meaning you’ll likely be buying a new pair after the old pair has worn out much faster than if you’d invested in a good school shoe.
Often when we examine the bottom layers of cheaper shoes beneath the inner sole, we find that the lining contains dense cardboard, which won’t be doing your kids feet (and health) any good when it comes to the cold, rainy months. Then there are the comfort and fit factors that are usually superior in proper school shoes, especially when it comes to having lots of room at the front of the shoe (toe box) for spreading and growing toes. The fastening mechanisms (velcro, laces, buckles) also do a great job of keeping the foot secure in the shoe, discouraging kids from ‘slipping on’ their shoes. All in all, school shoes may be an ‘investment’ but more often than not, it’s well worth it.
Feet are the smallest first thing in the morning. They tend to swell and get slightly bigger as the day goes and we spend time walking, running and getting the body moving. This is why it’s important to fit shoes in the afternoon, after being active, so the feet are at their largest and the size of the shoe accommodates this (slight) expansion. Failing to do so can cause avoidable blisters, rubbing and compromise your child’s comfort – and willingness to wear them!
Just like getting fitted in the afternoon, it’s a good idea to bring the thickest sock that will at any time be worn with the shoe. Unless, of course, you have different shoes for summer and winter. This will ensure your child’s comfort year-round and reduce the risk of the shoe rubbing and uncomfortably pressing against the skin, which can cause blisters and corns.
We understand – buying shoes for kids can be an expensive venture and is made far worse by the knowledge that they can quickly grow out of them! Unfortunately, shoes that are far too big can be just as dangerous as shoes that are too small. They won’t do a proper job of cupping and stabilising the foot at the ankle or securing the foot in place. They can also increase the risk of tripping and falling, especially knowing how active kids are and how much time they spend moving quickly on their feet! The ideal length is a thumbs width from the end of the longest toe (check whether it’s the first or second toe!), to the end of their shoe. The heel should be secured well to the shoe when the laces/velcro are done up and shouldn’t be coming out of the shoe. The toes also shouldn’t be hitting the end when your child runs.
In Melbourne, we love the Vibram range. They have ample room at the rounded toe-box for the toes to spread and letting the natural progression of growth occur comfortably, without impinging on the foot. This helps maintain optimal intrinsic strength for growing feet! Clark’s are another trusted brand for kids shoes. These and other great brands are found at stores such as:
If you notice your child in pain or having any issues with their feet, legs or shoes, our team at Sole Motion Podiatry would love to help! We’re experts in kids feet and health – and we’re parents too! We offer a wide range of non-invasive solutions to help any aches, pains or any issues your kids may be experiencing. Give our friendly team a call on 1300-FX-FEET.