Is your child suffering from foot or leg pain and needs to wear an orthotic to reduce the impact that his/her feet take every time they come in contact with the ground? Did you know that there are certain shoe styles that will accommodate your child’s orthotics better?
I have been working for a specialized children’s shoe store for almost 10 years now, and we evaluate children with foot issues on a daily basis. These children are often referred by their pediatrician or physical/occupational therapist to be fitted in the right pair of shoes and orthotics.
If your child has been diagnosed with flat feet and has been complaining about foot or leg pain, then the correct type of shoes and orthotics will significantly reduce or completely eliminate the pain.
I am assuming that you already got a pair of orthotics for your child and now you need shoes that will provide good support and accommodate the orthotics.
There are only certain shoe styles that will work with a pair of orthotics, and I will show you which are the best styles shortly.
The shoes that you want to look for your child must provide these three important features:
- Round toe-box.
Let me describe them each individually so you know exactly what features you need to look for your in your child’s shoes in order for them to work with an orthotic.
The support of the shoes come from the sole and the heel counter of the shoe (the heel counter is the back part of the shoe). You must avoid shoes that come with flat soles and soft heel counters.
This is an example of a shoe with a supportive sole:
Here you can find an example of a shoe with a soft heel counter. Do you notice how when I press on the heel counter it bends?
Here is an example of a shoe with a firm heel counter:
Depth was the second feature that the shoes must provide. If the orthotic doesn’t fit deep down inside the shoe, it will give your kids the impression that their feet are coming out of the shoe every time they walks. Let’s take a look at some pictures below showing the difference of shoe depth between two well-know brands such as New Balance and Nike.
In the Nike shoe style (black and red) we can see how the orthotic is not fitting deep enough, whether in the New Balance shoe style (grey) the orthotic is sitting much deeper inside the shoe.
Deep shoes will also prevent the top of your child’s feet from rubbing against the top of the shoes.
ROUND TOE-BOX ✅
Shoes with a round toe-box will prevent your kids’ toes from rubbing against the side or the front of the shoes. They will also prevent the orthotics from poking a hole though the shoes.
If the shoes don’t come with a nice round toe-box you will notice your child complaining that the shoes are too tight, and you will notice red marks along his small toe. Also, if the shoe is too narrow, the orthotic will end up making a hole through the shoe. Let’s take a look at an example of an orthotic in a shoe that is too narrow:
As you can see in both of these pictures the orthotic is poking out of the shoe. This will create friction between the orthotic and the shoe, which might lead to the shoe falling apart faster.
Now you know what are the 3 most important features that the shoes must provide in order to fit an orthotic properly.
The issue is that shoes don’t come labeled as “deep” or with a “round toe-box”. The good news is that I know exactly which shoe styles these are and I will describe them below. I wanted you to be able to find these shoes by yourself in case you don’t like any of the options I show you.
The Best Shoes for Orthotic Inserts – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Fitting an orthotic inside a shoe requires a few steps, and even though these might sound like simple steps, it takes knowledge and experience to know which particular shoe will fit the orthotics best. There are certain shoe brands and shoe styles that will definitely work better for orthotics such as New Balance and Saucony. They are our top two selling brands at the shoe store, specially for children who have wide or extra wide feet.
These two brands come in different widths such as medium, wide, and extra wide widths. They also make good quality shoes with excellent support and firm heel counters.
At the kids’shoe store that I work for, I handle approximately 200 pair of fitting and try-ons per week. That is a lot of shoes folks! I know which are the best shoes in terms of support, structure, and durability. I also know which shoes are better suited for orthotics inserts.
If you don’t have a children’s shoe store in your area that specializes in shoe fitting and orthotics, below you can find a selection of the best fitting shoes for orthotic inserts that also come in medium, wide, and extra wide widths!
The shoes below will fit a child that has narrow, medium, or wide feet (choose the width accordingly). If your child has narrow feet choose the “M” width.
This first selection of shoes fit “short”, which means that you need to go a whole size longer of the size that your child measures in the standard foot measuring scale (Brannock device) in order to allow for growing room.
The shoes below will fit a child with medium, wide, or extra wide feet.
This selection of shoes fit “true to size”, which means that you need to go a half a size longer of the size that your child measures in the shoe measuring scale in order to allow for growing room.
Is your Child a Candidate to Wear Orthotics? – Let’s Find Out!
Keep in mind that we all have a certain degree of pronation or supination. However, when pronation or supination becomes excessive, children might start complaining about their feet and legs hurting. How can you tell if your child is pronating excessively?
Make sure your child is standing straight and observe his feet and legs from the back. If your child’s feet lean inward or appear flat, these can be signs that your child is experiencing pronation:
Another way is to take a look at how the shoes are wearing.
The picture below shows a shoe on the left that has been worn by a child that has been pronating, and on the right a shoe that has never been worn (keep in mind that these are the same shoes in the same sizes). Do you notice how the left shoe is caving inwards? That means that child child has been overpronating!
Let’s take a look at the most common causes of why a child might need orthotics:
- Pronation: this occurs when the arch collapses and the foot rolls inward excessively.
- Supination: this occurs when the foot leans to the outside.
- Sensory and stability issues: these occur among children who have low-muscle tone, tight cords,or severe toe-in.
- Foot pain: this occurs among children that might be experiencing cramping in the foot, leg, and knee.
- Feet and legs feeling tired: this occurs among children who are involved in physical activities.
All of these causes are believed to be hereditary.
Don’t panic! It’s common, and there are things you can do to help your child walk and run straight, and prevent bigger issues down the road such as back pain.
Orthotics and good supportive shoes are one of the best solutions to your children’s foot problems. It will always depend on how severe your child might be pronating to figure out whether your child might need orthotics, or just a good supportive shoe.
Has your child been complaining about having pain on the bottom or the top part of his foot? Keep in mind that just because your child is having pain, that doesn’t automatically translates into him needing orthotics.
Our Kids’ Feet Act as Shock Absorbers – Sometimes they Need Help!
Our feet are our body’s first shock absorbers since they help the body by absorbing impact and responding to uneven surfaces. When we are pronating or supinating excessively, the body’s natural shock absorbing capability reduces considerably.
Providing children with good supportive shoes and orthotics will help them minimize the impact that their feet and legs take every time they impact against the ground!
What Are The Benefits Of Wearing An Orthotic?
- They will provide bio-mechanical balance by redistributing body weight.
- They will not only improve and correct your child’s foot position, but they will also affect the alignment of the ankles, knees, hips, and the low back, because everything is connected together in a bio-mechanical chain.
- They will provide cushioning, support, stability, and/or relief to pressure areas of the foot.
- They will provide relief to those muscles that are over working.
- They will absorb the shock of each step that your child takes rather than passing on these shocks to the leg and spine.
I want to clarify that orthotics will NOT help your child develop an arch. It will provide all the benefits previously mentioned and MOST importantly, reduce or eliminate the foot and leg pain that your child has been experiencing.
If you don’t have an orthotic for your child, there is a certain type of orthotic insert that is easier to fit than most and will provide great arch and heel support for your child. You can find that orthotic here:
Please remember that orthotics must be fitted in a good supportive shoe, since the orthotics and the shoes work together. If you decide to invest in an orthotic, and you put it inside a shoe that is too soft or that doesn’t offer enough support, you will be THROWING your MONEY away!
Some parents also come to the store saying that they took their child to their pediatrician and even though the child showed clear signs of overpronation and flat feet, the pediatrician told them that the child was fine and was going to outgrow the issue. Do NOT ignore your children’s foot or leg pain andalways get a second opinion!
Making Sure the Orthotics Fit – 3 Simple Steps To Get It Right!
Do you have a children’s shoe store in your area that you trust? It is extremely hard to fit orthotics and shoes for children if you don’t know what you are doing. I am only here to help parents who do not have a children’s shoe store in their area that they trust. I believe in supporting local businesses, specially those that hire specialized employees.
By a local shoe store I don’t mean chain stores such as Stride Rite or Nordstrom’s, since they don’t have qualified or experienced employees. I actually created a map that showcases the best fitting shoe stores in the United States by state:
If after looking at the map you still can’t seem to find a good fitting kids’ shoe store in your area then follow the guidelines below to make sure the orthotics will fit properly inside your kids’ shoes:
1- It all starts with a shoe that has a removable insole. If the shoe doesn’t have a removable insole, the orthotic WILL NOT fit properly inside the shoe. All the shoe styles I recommended above come with a removable insole. START by removing the original insole of the shoe:
2- The second step is to insert the orthotic inside your kids’ shoes:
3- The third step is to check with your hand that the orthotic is not bunched up inside the shoes.
If you are a woman who is overpronating and you also need to wear orthotics inside your shoes, there is an article I wrote where I describe the best women’s shoes for orthotics and you ca find it here:
I also wanted you to know that shoes with laces will provide more benefits than shoes with velcro straps. Shoe laces will provide your child with more stability and support, and it will allow your child to completely secure the heel area of the shoe.
One of the main issues children have with wearing orthotics is the extra space that is found around their heels, since the orthotic are eventually raising your kids feet up, giving your child the impression that his feet are coming out of the shoe. A shoe that comes with shoe laces will allow your child to completely secure his heels in the shoe!
I created a post where I explain the importance and benefits that shoe laces provide when wearing an orthotic. The post is called:
Did you know that with early intervention orthotics can be a short-term solution to your children’s foot problems?
Have you found a particular shoe style that works better with orthotics? Is there a particular type of orthotic/insert that you recommend for kids’? Please share your finds in the comments section below so we can all benefit from your experiences!