Supportive Shoes for Kids – Substantial Outsoles, Firm Heel Counters, and Straight Lasts!

Has your child been diagnosed with a foot condition and has your medical professional recommended that your child wears a pair of supportive shoes? Are you having a hard time finding a pair of supportive shoes that are also capable of accommodating your child’s exact foot shape? Unfortunately, there are only a few shoe brands that still manufacture high-quality and supportive shoes for kids, but the good news is that I will help you find them.

I want to start by clarifying that you don’t need to buy a pair of orthopedic shoes to provide your child with supportive shoes. While orthopedic shoes can be really effective in helping treat a child’s specific foot condition, not all families can afford to invest $100 or more in a pair of shoes that the child might outgrow in a few months.

Physical and occupational therapists refer children to be fitted for shoes and orthotics to the shoe store that I work for on a daily basis.

I am not a medical professional, but I have helped hundreds of children with foot conditions such as flat feet, rolled ankles, low muscle tone, knock knees, toe walking, etc. find the correct type of shoes and depending on the degree of their condition, orthotic as well. Over the years I became familiar with the most supportive shoes for kids.

What Qualifies as a Good Supportive Shoe?

Shoes that provide substantial outsoles, firm heel counters, and straight lasts are ideal for children who are dealing with a foot condition. Let’s see if I can help you better visualize the importance of finding shoes with substantial outsoles, firm heel counters, and straight lasts:

1️⃣ Substantial Outsoles: Shoes with substantial and supportive outsoles help support the child’s feet and improve the child’s foot posture. This feature is ideal for children who are dealing with flat feet or rolled ankles.

Below you can see the difference between a shoe with a substantial outsole versus a shoe with an outsole that is too thin and doesn’t provide the correct amount of support:

Image of two children’s shoes that are the same length and width but provide very different levels of support.

2️⃣ Firm Heel Counters:  The heel counter is the back part of the shoe that provides ankle and heel support. The firmer the heel counter is the better ankle and heel support it will provide.

Always make sure that the heel counter of your kids’ shoes feels firm and sturdy. Let’s take a look at the difference between a shoe with a soft heel counter, and one with a firm heel counter.

Image of two shoes that provide very different levels of ankle and heel support.

3️⃣ Straight Lasts: You need to stay away from shoes that have an excessively curved last as they lack heel stability. Most children’s shoes come with a curved or semi-curved last. Take a look at the image below for better visualization purposes:

Image of a shoe with a semi-curved last versus a shoe with a straight last.

Can Supportive Shoes Make Your Child’s Feet Weaker?

There is a common misconception when it comes to providing children with supportive shoes.

Supportive shoes don’t make the muscles “lazy” or “weaker”. They simply provide children with structural support which is not going to take away from the musculature. This means that supportive shoes allow the child’s foot and leg muscles to develop on their own while supporting them.

All of the shoes I recommend provide excellent support, but they are lightweight and flexible at the same time. Shoes that are too heavy or stiff can make your child’s feet and legs tire easily. Your kids’ shoes should always bend at the ball of the foot but no further.

Image of a shoe that is too flexible and unsupportive versus a shoe that provides the correct amount of flexibility.

Shoes with Shoelaces or Velcro Closure?

Did you know that shoes with shoelaces provide better support and stability compared to shoes with velcro closure? Shoelaces help “hug” the child’s feet more effectively, providing the child with better support and stability.

Toggle shoelaces or lock laces are also not recommended if you want to get the most support out of the shoes.

I understand it can be challenging for many families to provide their children with shoes that provide shoelaces, especially if the child is not ready to learn how to tie his/her shoes. However, believe me that they can make a tremendous difference!

I have put together a list of the most supportive shoes for kids that are available in different widths such as medium (M), wide (W), and extra wide (XW). Disclosure: Some links in this post may be affiliate links and we may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) when you click our links and make purchases. 

Supportive Shoes for Kids

In each of the descriptions of the shoes, I indicate whether you need to order a half size or a whole size bigger than your child’s current foot size to provide the correct amount of growing room.

Make sure that your kids’ shoes are properly tied at all times. If your child needs to wear an orthotic inside the shoes, I suggest that you apply the following shoe lacing technique.

Are You Unsure About What Shoe Size to Order?

It’s important to note that you can provide your child with the most supportive shoe, but if it’s not fitted properly (length and width wise), your child won’t get any of the benefits that the shoes have to offer.

I developed the most effective way to determine your child’s exact foot size from your home and will personally assist you with a custom fitting tailored to your child’s individual needs. This easy-to-follow method allows parents to accurately determine their child’s correct foot length and width, as well as instep height.

My Final Thoughts on Supportive Shoes for Kids

Finding a pair of supportive shoes for kids can be a frustrating and time-consuming experience. Most parents end up wasting a lot of time and money ordering shoes online and having to return them back and forth.

Unfortunately, most specialized children’s shoe stores have been closing down (even before the pandemic). Take advantage of the free resources I offer to retrieve your child’s exact foot length and shape, as this will increase the likelihood of ordering the correct shoes online.

Get a Personalized Suggestion

Don’t hesitate to contact me if you are looking for a different type of supportive shoe to help treat your child’s foot condition:

[email protected]

Let us know in the comment section below whether you have found a specific shoe style that has worked in helping treat your child’s foot condition. I am sure other families will find your feedback helpful!