boy smiling trying sports shoes in shopping mall

Shoe Shopping Advice for Back-to-School

Professional headshot of a woman.By Alissa J. Redding, D.P.M., Podiatry

With the end of summer quickly approaching, the time has come to prepare for back-to-school shopping. Here are some tips, courtesy of the guidelines of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, to help with shoe shopping for your children to get them off to a good start in the next school year!

How to Get the Best Fit

The ideal fit is about one finger’s width from the end of the big toe to the end of the shoe. It is also a good idea to take into account that children’s feet can grow up to two sizes in six months. Problems that come with shoes that are too small or tight include ingrown toenails which can become infected, calluses, blisters, and corns. However, shoes that are too big can cause the foot to slide forward, putting pressure on the toes, leading to pain and sometimes numbness. Feet are often at their largest toward the end of the day, so the best time to ensure the best fit is late afternoon.

Yes, shoes wear out even if they look fine.

Although your child’s older shoes may look good enough, or the child does not complain of pain, worn-out shoes also present another set of potential problems, including heel pain, tendinitis, and even ankle sprains and stress fractures, especially in very active children. Shoes lose their shock absorption and structure over time. It is a good idea to replace shoes with wear and tear around the edges of the sole. In new shoes, the best structure is a shoe that bends at the toe but does not bend easily in the middle of the arch.

Flat Feet?

Flat feet are also very common in children. The best shoes to support this foot type and help prevent pain and future problems is a deeper shoe that could accommodate an insert, if necessary. Good shock absorption and arch support are also important features. A wider toe box can also help prevent and relieve pain in the toes and front part of the foot.

Although trends and proper shoes do not always go together, getting your child in an appropriate shoe can help prevent, relieve or minimize problems with his or her feet…and more.