Back to School Tips to Keep Kids’ Feet Healthy & Happy

The calendar is about to flip over to September, and that means that most kids in and around Dallas have been back in school for a week or two.

Hopefully, any fears about the new school year—or sadness about the end of summer vacation—have been replaced with excitement about learning new things, reconnecting with friends (and making new ones), and maybe even playing a few new sports!

Unfortunately, the excitement of a new school year can be replaced with pain and discomfort if your child isn’t prepared with the right shoes for their activities. In fact, a good pair of shoes (or even a few pairs) should be an essential part of any back-to-school checklist, right alongside notebooks, backpacks, and pencils.

Assessing Old Shoes

The first question you may have is whether or not your child’s current shoes are still in good enough shape.

If you’re lucky, your child will tell you directly that their shoes are feeling tight, or that their feet are starting to hurt when they wear them. But since you can’t always rely on your child to keep you up to date, you may have to do some investigating yourself.

Here is a quick assessment:

  • Check the toe box space. There should be around half of an inch between the front of the shoe and your child’s longest toe.
  • Check the treads on the sole of the shoes. If they’re worn down and balding, it’s time to replace them.
  • Check the tops and sides. If you notice that the shoes seem to be bulging or showing any worn or stressed seams, or bent upward at the toe box, they are definitely too small for your child.

Common Mistakes Parents Make When Buying Shoes for Their Child

So now you know that your child needs a new pair of shoes. In a minute, we’ll give you some of our best advice for how you can ensure that your shopping trip with them goes smoothly.

These are some of the most common mistakes you should avoid:

  • Don’t choose used shoes. Hand-me-downs are almost always a bad idea for school-age kids. One, they can harbor bacteria and fungi. Two, they will have already “conformed” to a different set of feet, and can cause pressure and irritation when worn by someone else. Finally, the midsoles may be badly compressed, greatly reducing the amount of shock absorption and support offered by the shoe.
  • Don’t pick shoes your child will “grow into.” Shoes that are too big can be just as bad for growing feet as shoes that are too small.
  • Don’t choose backless or slip-on shoes for everyday wear. It’s important that kids have shoes with some kind of adjustable closure, such as laces or Velcro. Since feet grow so fast in childhood, this allows your little one to adjust the fit more comfortably over time.
  • Don’t ignore sport specific shoes. If your child is just playing on the playground or in regular gym class, an ordinary pair of gym shoes will be fine. But if they are joining the basketball or track team, for example, they should have a pair of sport-specific shoes. They will provide better support and safety to deal with the rigors presented by that particular sport.

How to Go Shoe Shopping with Your Child

You should always take your child with you shoe shopping. It’s important that they have an opportunity to check the fit themselves, and participate in the selection.

Here are a few tips to make sure you and your child leaves with the perfect pair:

  • Shop later in the day. Even little feet tend to swell a bit as the day progresses. If you shop in the evening, the shoes you buy should be a good fit since feet are at their largest at the end of day.
  • Bring the correct socks. Sock width makes a difference in terms of the fit. Don’t wear thick, fuzzy socks when trying out a pair of athletic shoes!
  • Always measure BOTH feet. Kids can change shoe sizes multiple times per year, and it’s very common for one foot to be a little larger than the other. Measure both, and make sure any pair you buy fits the larger foot comfortably.
  • Check the heel counter. It should be firm, and shouldn’t collapse when you press on it from both sides.
  • Check the toe flexibility. The area of the shoe around the toe box should bend gently along with the natural motion of the foot, but you shouldn’t be able to fold it.
  • Check the rigidity of the middle. Grab the front of the shoe with one hand, and the back of the shoe with the other. The shoe should be rigid enough that it can’t be easily twisted.
  • Check the size and spacing. There should be around half an inch of space between the front of the shoe and the longest toe.
  • Have your child walk around in them. New shoes will always feel a little “off” at first, but they should be comfortable to wear and walk in them immediately. Do not expect uncomfortable shoes to break in—because they won’t.
  • Pick up two pairs, if you can. Being able to rotate between shoes on a day-to-day basis helps keep each pair drier, and decreases the risks of attracting fungal or viral infections.

One more quick tip:

If your child does start complaining about feet that are in pain, or develops unwanted ingrown nails, skin infections, or other problems, please bring them in to see Dr. Brandy at Trinity Foot Center.

We love working with kids and will do everything we can to help keep their feet healthy and strong, so that they can run, jump, and enjoy being kids!

To schedule an appointment with us, please call (972) 293-9650. Alternatively, you can fill out a contact form and someone from our office will follow up with you shortly thereafter.

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1801 N. Hampton Road
Suite 340
DeSoto, TX 75115

Inside the Inwood National Bank Building on the 3rd Floor

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