Why your kids need bi-annual foot size checks: a Podiatrist's perspective
As a parent, we often don’t notice our child’s rapid growth until someone makes a comment on how tall they’ve gotten. I mean, we see them every. single. day. so it’s not surprising that the (not so) little things get missed. The same can be said for their growing feet. It can feel like just a minute ago you were buying new school shoes, next thing, they’re complaining about squished toes.
We sat down with Emily Smith, a leading Australian Sports Podiatrist to find out just how fast those little feet can grow and the recommended check ups we should be doing.
A child’s foot grows an average of half a size every 4-6 months, so it's essential to ensure their shoes are properly sized throughout the year, to support their feet as they evolve.
A lot of the time we think about getting new shoes at the start of the year and then expect them to see through the year. Whereas, I actually recommend a trip to the shoe fitting professionals every 6 months, here’s why.
Crucial for foot development
Children's feet change at a remarkable rate, and generally don’t stop until 15 years of age for females and 16 years of age for males. These changes are not only about size but also the shape and structure of their feet. With feet remaining malleable until adolescence, the research shows a kid’s arch shape, toe alignment, width and general foot development is heavily influenced by footwear, so wearing well-fitted, well-engineered shoes during youth is crucial to preventing problems now, and in the future. If you’re needing professional advice on finding your child’s first school shoes, click here.
A stitch in time saves nine
For growing kids, we recommend buying shoes a full thumbs width longer than the longest toe, rather than ½ a thumb which is recommended for an adult. This allows enough room for growth but not so much space that the foot is slipping and slopping inside the shoe. Although buying shoes bigger than this recommendation might seem cost-effective at first, it can cause a multitude of problems in the short, and long term that are not worth the initial savings, including pain, injury, blisters, tripping and toe-clawing deformities. My advice if you’ve bought a shoe too big? Put it in the cupboard and wait for them to grow into it.
The pitfalls of hand-me-downs and marketplace finds
In the same vein, another common practice is passing down shoes from older siblings or purchasing second-hand shoes from online marketplaces. While hand-me-downs might save money in the short-term, they are usually worn poorly to the gait pattern of its previous owner, with the leather significantly stretched and the fitting sloppy and substandard, all leading to potential problems. Marketplace purchases can also be worn down poorly by the previous owner but the biggest problem is that they are usually bought sight unseen, posing a fitting problem in length, width, or both. Secondly, the transference of contagious skin problems, like warts and fungal infections, is also a risk when wearing second-hand footwear.
The importance of bi-annual foot size checks
So, why should you consider taking your child for regular foot size checks every six months? Here are a few compelling reasons:
Ensuring proper fit: Regular foot size checks ensure that your child's shoes fit correctly throughout the year, providing them with the support and comfort they need as their feet grow and change.
Preventing foot problems: Properly fitted shoes reduce the risk of foot issues and discomfort which can significantly enhance your child's overall well-being.
Enhancing physical activity: Well-fitting shoes promote stability and comfort, enabling your child to participate in physical activities without hindrance.
Optimising posture and alignment: Appropriate footwear contributes to correct posture and foot alignment which is essential for a growing child.
Individualised fit: Each child's feet are unique, and by regularly checking their foot size, you can ensure that their shoes are tailored to their specific needs as they grow.
To wrap it up, the rapid changes in children's foot size and structure make it crucial to get their feet checked every six months. Buying shoes that fit properly and are appropriate for your child's unique feet is an investment in their comfort, health, and overall well-being. And with The Fit Squad at Shoes & Sox offering a free fit check and professional guidance on the best shoe choices for your child, why wouldn’t you? Click here to book a fit check.Written by Emily Smith, Sports Podiatrist & Founder of Emily Braidwood.