What’s the Big Deal About School Shoes?

January 24, 2020

While online shopping has certainly made the back to school ritual a whole lot easier for parents, there’s one item which still requires a visit to the store.

School shoes.

If you’ve ever bought any form of apparel online, you’ll know how hard it is to get the right fit – and never more so than with shoes.

While some podiatry clinics and specialty shoe stores offer professional fitting, this may come with a premium price tag to match.

What to Look for in School Shoes

However it is possible for parents to outfit their child with a well fitting and quality shoe, if they know what to look for. Brisbane podiatrist Trevor Lane offers the following tips on choosing school shoes:

  • Shop for shoes in the afternoon – your child’s feet tend to swell over the course of the day, especially during the hot weather that accompanies back to school season.
  • Bring socks – make your child put on their school socks before trying on shoes. This will help you to obtain a more accurate fit, as well as prevent the spread of any nasties like tinea or the plantar wart virus.
  • Room for growth – while it can be tempting to buy shoes with “room to grow”, be careful not to buy shoes that are too big. Looser shoes will not give your child’s foot stability and support, increasing their risk of injuries like a sprained ankle. Ideally the space between the longest toe and the end of the toe box should be the same size as the wearer’s thumb.
  • Wiggle it just a little bit – to make sure shoes aren’t too tight, particularly around the widest part of the foot, ask your child if they can still wriggle all their toes.
  • Walk this way – Check how your child walks in the shoes, especially from behind. Make sure that their heels aren’t slipping out, or that their ankles aren’t rolling in.

New Shoes for a New School Year?

A new pair of shoes to start the school year is not always necessary. If they are still a good fit, consider the following questions:

  • is the stitching coming apart?
  • are there holes in the upper (or are your child’s toes poking out)?
  • is there damage to the lining?
  • are the soles worn through?
  • has the shoe lost shape (eg leaning to one side)?
  • does the mid sole (the layer of foam which acts as a shock absorber) feel thin or has it become stiff?

If you have answered yes to any of the above, it’s probably time to go shoe shopping.

Why it’s Worth the Effort

The school years are a critical time in the growth and development of your child’s feet – the final closure of the growth plates does not occur until between 18 and 20 years of age.

And when you consider that your child will be spending the majority of their waking hours wearing their school shoes – in all sorts of weather, on all types of surfaces, for all sorts of activities – it’s worth the time and effort to bring your child in store to ensure the best fit possible.

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