New Year, New School Shoes
Updated: Jan 12, 2021
Back to school is nearly upon us and for many parents this is the time for purchasing new school shoes. This can be a daunting task with so many options available, all of which look quite similar on initial glance. So how do you decide which school shoes are best for your child?
Why correct sizing is so important
Children’s feet are growing rapidly and it can be very tempting to get a larger sized shoe for them to grow in to. While this can help the budget, it may leave your child sliding around in their shoes without much support. Proper shoe sizing is best done at the end of the day to account for any swelling in the feet. It can be performed using a Brannock measuring device or systems such as MyFit 3D at The Athlete’s Foot.
Length: As a general rule, a space around the width of your thumb should be left between your child’s big toe and the end of their shoe. Having a shoe that fits appropriately is critical for stabilising a child’s foot which tend to be more flexible as the bones in their feet are still in the process of hardening.
Width: The width of a shoe is also very important. Footwear that is too narrow can lead to rubbing, blistering and even contribute to the formation of long term issues such a bunions. A simple way to check the width is to remove the insole of the shoe and have your child stand on it. If their foot is hanging over the edges of the insole, the shoe is too narrow. If your child has a wide foot and finds it difficult to fit shoes, brands such as Ascent have multiple width fittings and can accomodate the foot without needing to go up in length.
Features to look for in school shoes
Your child is going to spend a lot of time in their school shoes, using them for running, jumping, kicking soccer balls and any number of other activities. There are a couple of features to look for in school shoes to ensure they are up to the test.
Firm heel counter: The heel counter is at the back of the shoe and acts to support your heel. It is important for stability of the foot and controlling movement of the heel. You can test this by pushing on the very back of the shoe. If the part of the shoe which would cup your heel is easily compressed, this will provide little support to your child’s foot.
Firm shank: The shank of a shoe is a piece of plastic or metal which sits within the sole of the shoe, beneath your insole. It acts to provide stability and rigidity to the shoe. A shoe should only bend at the toes where the foot bends. If you can bend and scrunch the whole shoe, it will not provide sufficient support.
Appropriate depth: Ensuring a shoe is sufficiently deep to accomodate your child’s foot is important. A shoe that is too shallow can lead to rubbing and blisters. It will also make it very difficult to fit any orthotic or insert if your child requires these.
Honourable mention in all three categories goes to the Ascent school shoe range. Ascent incorporate into their footwear a thermoplastic heel counter, moulded nylon shank and appropriate depth to accomodate orthotics.
Brands such as Lynx tend to have a firm shank, good heel cup, appropriate depth and are a good option at their price point. Unfortunately the cheaper price does come with some reduction in quality with the soles being “blown out” - a process in which air pockets are used in the sole. This can provide cushioning but often leads to quicker wear.
Laces, Velcro or Buckles?
The type of fastening is not particularly important as long as there is something to fasten the shoe to the foot. Slide on shoes provide limited stability to the foot and allow much more movement within the shoe. It is also important to actually use the fastening system of the shoe. Tying the laces and then kicking the shoes on and off renders the lacing useless and the shoe becomes similar to a slip on shoe.
There are too many options, what should I do?
There are a lot of options when it comes to school shoes! If you do find yourself struggling to decide, My Family Podiatry can help you with advice. We offer a No Gap* children’s foot check, a screening where a basic assessment is performed and footwear advice can be provided. To book a No Gap* assessment or any appointment at our clinic, call 07 3088 6116 or book through our website at www.myfamilypodiatry.com.au
*No Gap assessment is a screening appointment only. Any treatment required will incur additional charges. No Gap for eligible health fund members with podiatry coverage. If no podiatry coverage, an appointment cost of $35 will be applied.