Find Out How the Correct Shoe Size Can Help Prevent Foot Conditions in Children
Children who suffer from foot conditions such as flat feet, rolled ankles, overpronation, and other conditions such as low muscle tone, hypermobility, toe walking, in-toeing, and knock knees can strongly benefit from wearing supportive shoes in the correct size. Did you know that the proper fit of the shoes is just as important (if not more important) than the support or the material that the shoes are made of?
Many physical and occupational therapists reported that they encounter many children with physical disabilities whose shoes do not fit properly. For example, one pediatric physical therapist mentioned how several children who toe-walk were wearing shoes that were simply too big for their feet. The shoes then tend to “slip off” and children will often stay up on their toes as a way to help keep the shoes on their feet. This is why I mentioned that proper fit is just as important as the support or the material that the shoes are made of.
Many medical professionals refer families to the children’s shoe store that I work for to be fitted for the correct types of shoes, and sometimes depending on the degree of their foot condition, orthotics as well.
Be Careful About Fitting Your Child in Shoes that are Too Big or Too Small
Shoes that are too big can compromise the child’s stability and make the child more prone to falling. In addition, shoes that are too small can also compromise the child’s stability and have a negative impact on the child’s walking gait.
I wanted to take a moment to also reflect on the importance of getting the correct shoe size for those children who wear orthotics. Many families of children who wear orthotics (full length, AFOs, SMOs) tend to buy the shoes in the bigger side to accommodate the orthotic devices. This also has a negative effect as fitting orthotics in shoes that are too big defeats one of the main purposes of wearing orthotics: to improve the child’s stability.
How Can You Make Sure that Your Child’s Shoes Fit Properly?
Do you remember when your parents used to take you to be properly fitted for shoes at your local shoe store? Maybe you followed this same tradition with your own children. Unfortunately, most specialized children’s shoe stores have gone out of business.
If you don’t find a shoe store in your area, then there is a different resource I created that helps families determine their children’s exact foot shape (narrow, medium, wide, extra wide, high instep) and foot length. In that resource I also help families determine whether their child might have a foot condition.
I have created several online resources that describe the best shoes for children with foot conditions, but I always emphasize how the child won’t get the full benefits that the shoes have to offer if the shoes are not fitted properly.
5 Common Mistakes Parents Make that Lead to the Wrong Shoe Size
A lot of families decide to check on their own whether their children’s shoes are fitting properly, and they end up making these common mistakes:
Holding the outsole of the new shoe against the bottom of the child’s foot. If they notice that the new shoe is slightly larger than the child’s foot, then they assume the shoes are a good fit. This is the wrong approach as the inside of the shoe is significantly smaller than its external appearance.
Putting a pair of shoes on the child’s feet and then squeezing the end to check if there is enough room between the child’s longest toe and the end of the shoe. This is the wrong approach as the child as a natural reflex will curl up the toes, making it seem that there is enough room when there actually isn’t.
Assuming that the size marked on the box of the shoes (or advertised online) accurately conforms to the size of the shoes in the box. This is the wrong assumption as shoes can fit short, long, or true to size, and depending on how they fit you need to adjust the final shoe size that you provide for your child.
Assuming that sizes are identical among brands. This is the wrong assumption as even among the same shoe brands there are significant variations in sizes.
Assuming that both of their child’s feet are the same size in length and shape. This is the wrong assumption as we all have a half size difference between our feet.
Is Your Child Dealing with Any of the Following Foot Conditions?
1️⃣ Flat Feet
If your child is having foot pain due to flat feet, there are certain shoes that provide supportive outsoles, firm heel counters, and straight lasts that can help prevent your child’s feet from collapsing and improve foot posture and walking gait.
2️⃣ Heel Pain
If your child is dealing with heel pain there are certain shoes that provide firm heel counters and targeted cushion and support right below the heels that can help significantly reduce or fully eliminate your child’s heel pain.
3️⃣ Toe Walking
There are certain shoes that can work really well for children who walk on their toes due to a neuromuscular condition. Shoes that provide supportive outsoles with a stable base of support and that are rigid at the front instead of overly flexible can help discourage toe walking.
4️⃣ Low Muscle Tone/Hypermobility
Children who have ligaments that are too loose (hypermobility) and don’t hold the joint in proper alignment when it moves usually have the heel tilting inwards and a collapsed arch. Once the feet are pronated, the knees and hips also become misaligned. There are certain shoes that are supportive but lightweight and flexible at the same time that can help improve the child’s foot posture due to low muscle tone.
5️⃣ AFOs or Other Orthotic Devices
It can be extremely challenging to find shoes for orthotics devices such as AFOs or SMOs.
6️⃣ Knock Knees
Supportive shoes can help your child’s knees from coming together by improving foot posture.
Don’t hesitate to contact me either via the comments section below or by email if you are unsure whether your child’s shoes are fitting correctly or if you are having a hard time finding a specific pair of shoes for your child. My email address is:
Let me know in the comments section below if you have a good specialized children’s shoe store in your area!