With so many children’s shoes out there, exactly what should we buy? Should we only put our children in “Clarks” shoes? These are the most commonly asked questions coming from concerned parents when looking to purchase their children’s new shoes. In essence the brand of shoe is irrelevant. By keeping these few points in mind shoes can be found that will not only be appropriate and supportive but also cost effective.

Fit

The most important factor for children’s shoes is that they fit. This means always having them fitted professionally by someone trained in fitting kids shoes correctly. Children should also be measured for shoes approximately every three months. This does not necessarily mean they need new shoes, but if they are measured every three months we can be assured that the current shoes are still fitting. A correctly fitting shoe should have a thumb space clearance at the end of the longest toe, and should not compress the sides of the front of the foot.

Last (the sole)

The last of a child’s shoe should be relatively straight. The sole of the shoe should appear straight, not curving towards the inside of the shoe. This is because a child’s foot is very straight and does not curve towards the inside as with many adults.

Lace-up / Buckle / Velcro

Laces help to keep the foot back in the heel of the shoe. This allows the forefoot to function properly and efficiently and also reduces forward pressure onto the toes. If purchasing sandals look for two adjusting straps, one across the forefoot and one to secure the foot back in the shoe.

Forefoot Bend

Footwear should bend only at the ball of the foot where the toes bend and not through the arch.

Heel Counter

Should be firm and feel snug as this helps to keep the heel stable.

The Upper

Leather uppers are preferred for its durability and its ability to breathe. Avoid synthetic man made materials unless the upper is an open weave fabric.

Shock Absorbing Sole

Soft, cushioning non-slip sole is preferred to decrease jarring through foot, leg spine. Avoid hard sole materials eg leather soles.

Torsion

Only a small amount of twisting motion should be available in a stable shoe.

Heel Height

A shoe with a low heel is preferable i.e. 1 to 2.5cm. Increased heel height, ultimately affects the entire body as there is an increase in load and force placed on the forefoot. This causes the body’s centre of gravity to shift forward, calf muscles shorten, muscles and ligaments fatigue as they are forced to work overtime to keep you balanced. This leads to an increase of stress placed on the lower back and thus body posture is affected.

Heel Base

Needs to be broad. The smaller and narrower the heel base is, the less contact you have with the ground thus affecting your stability.

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