Childrens Podiatry | Early intervention can prevent corrective foot surgery in children
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Early intervention can prevent corrective foot surgery in children

08 Nov 2015 Early intervention can prevent corrective foot surgery in children

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YOU get what you pay for when it comes to school shoes, experts say. Podiatrist Melissa Biedak, of the Children’s Podiatry Clinic, said because youngsters spent up to 40 hours a week in school shoes, a good pair was vital.

Podiatrist Melissa Biedak, of the Children’s Podiatry Clinic, said because youngsters spent up to 40 hours a week in school shoes, a good pair was vital. Ms Biedak put six pairs of school shoes through their paces for the Herald Sun, ranging from a $6.48 Big W pair to a Clarks variety valued at $114.99.

The Clarks shoe topped the list, followed by Lynx. But some of the cheaper shoes could also do the job, Ms Biedak said. Target’s school shoes were the best among budget footwear, she said. She was surprised by the Target shoe which, while heavy, had most of the features podiatrists wanted. But she said what set the Clarks footwear apart from those at Target was they offered six different widths. Ms Biedak said the wrong school shoes could cause bunions, corns, calluses, blisters, clawed toes, heel pain or change the shape and function of a foot. Ms Biedak said her vote for best school shoe went to the Ascent shoe from The Athlete’s Foot. She said it not only accommodated different widths, but also children’s varying toe profiles. “School shoes would be one of those things that I would consider would be important to spend a bit more money on,” she said. Shoes in the $60 to $100 range were more likely to last a whole year than the cheaper ones.

Parents of children with flat feet should be particularly careful, she said. Ms Biedak said velcro school shoes were a good substitute for laces and easier for young children. Runners could also provide support, as long as they were fitted properly, Ms Biedak said. Podiatrist and University of Melbourne PhD student Elizabeth Madden urged parents to steer clear of ballet flats and skater shoes for everyday wear at school.

She said parents could be better off financially buying quality shoes that were professionally fitted. Five-year-old Lachlan from Coburg is starting school this year and dad Bruce said he was looking for shoes that were reasonably priced and comfortable. “Lach is a bit pigeon-toed so we’re actually taking him to a podiatrist for some advice on what school shoes are best for him,” he said.

Get It Right

Podiatrist Melissa Biedak’s practical tip: Trace each of your child’s feet on a piece of paper and cut them out to take shoe shopping. When selecting shoes, put the cut-out inside the shoe. If the piece of paper scrunches up, the shoe is not wide enough or long enough.

Tip For Buying School Shoes

– Measure BOTH feet, as most people will have one foot longer or wider than the other

– Look for soles made from rubber and double-stitching around the toe area, which will give shoes a longer life

– Avoid slip-on shoes

– Avoid second-hand shoes as the worn shoe will have moulded to the shape of the previous wearer and could cause problems for your child’s feet

– It’s best to buy shoes in the late afternoon as children’s feet often swell by the end of the day

– There should be a child’s thumb-width between the end of the shoe and the end of the longest toe

– The widest part of the foot should correspond with the widest part of the shoe

– The fastening mechanism should hold the heel firmly in the back of the shoe

– The sole should not twist

– The heel should be snug but comfortable and the back part of the shoe strong and stable

– If you can, see a professional shoe fitter

– Your child should be able to move their toes freely, the shoes shouldn’t hurt and there should be no bulges from the toes on either side of the shoe

Things To Look Out For

– Children complaining of pain in the feet, heel, knee or legs

– Regular, unexplained tripping or falling

– Uneven shoe wear or one shoe that wears down before the other

– Skin or toenail irritation.