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Ill-fitting shoes cause problems such as heel pain and plantar fasciitis in young feet. Other common foot problems caused by improper footwear, like sprains and tendonitis, can require extended medical care.
“The importance of proper-fitting shoes at an early age is critical for growing bodies,” says Dr. Ross Taubman, president of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). “Simple foot injuries can inhibit a child’s daily functions and growth, potentially affecting them for the rest of their lives.”
So, how can parents judge a shoe’s fit? The experts at the APMA offer these tips for back-to-school shoppers:
– Measure your child’s foot. Children’s feet grow often and unevenly, so measure each foot before your child starts to try on shoes. Feet swell throughout the day, so measure your child’s feet in the late afternoon or evening. Your child should always stand while their feet are being measured. Always buy shoes that fit the largest of the child’s two feet. Never buy shoes more than one size too large.
– Check the fit. When your child tries on shoes, make sure that they have 1/2 inch of room between the end of the toes and the tip of the shoe. What feels comfortable while standing might rub when a child walks or runs, so have them slowly walk around the store, making sure that the shoes’ heels do not slip.
– Think about safety. Your little girl might look cute in Mary Janes, but even small heels make walking more difficult and can interfere with proper foot growth. New shoes should feel comfortable. Shoes should not require “breaking in.” Choose shoes with tread on the soles, as these help prevent slipping. Breathable materials, like canvas, keep children’s feet dry. Finally, shoes should contain stiff material around the heel cushioning and a built-in arch.
– Test the shoe. Boots and high-top sneakers better support small ankles, helping prevent sprains and twists. To test the shoe for proper function, flex the shoe in your hands. The ball of the shoe, not its middle, should bend.
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