But while it might be tempting to order a quick pair of sneakers online or purchase a popular brand or a shoe named after an athletic star, buying new shoes for your child should be a careful decision. It’s important to choose a shoe that fits your child’s foot for whatever activities they participate in. This is true even if they’re simply walking to school every morning. Purchasing the right school shoes is just the beginning of making sure that your child has and keeps healthy feet all year long.
Back-to-School Foot Risks for Kids
Attending school can be hard on a child’s body. They are up and about for seven hours a day, commuting to and from school with heavy bags, and engaging in PE and other classroom activities. Many kids also participate in school sports before or after the traditional school day, adding hours of active time on their feet.
If kids are in the wrong shoes, especially those that don’t fit properly, they can quickly develop serious foot health issues.
Tips to Help Keep Your Child’s Feet Safe
- Purchase new shoes for them each fall. Resist the idea that your child is fine in their worn-out and getting-smaller shoes from last year. And while it’s economically tempting, giving your child used hand-me-downs can be a bad idea, also.
- Make sure your athletic kids have the right shoes. If your child is playing a sport, make certain they have sport-specific shoes for that game.
- Make sure your kids understand stretching. It’s important for athletes to stretch before and after their practice sessions and games. Make sure your kids take the time to stretch, so their feet and ankle muscles provide the best support.
- Check the fit and wear of your kids’ shoes. Buying your child a new pair of shoes in the fall is a great start to keeping their feet healthy, but check on those shoes throughout the year. Kids grow fast and play hard. They can quickly grow out of or wear out a pair of sneakers.
- Remember that overall health affects foot health. The kids who hydrate, eat right, and get sleep will usually be a step ahead when it comes to foot health.
Be Aware of Common Foot Issues For Kids
There are specific foot conditions you should watch for when sending your kids back to school. Be aware that a summer of fun also might mean a summer in bare feet or flip-flops—both can cause problematic foot conditions. In addition, the wrong pair of back-to-school shoes or school sports activity shoes can also lead to problems.
Foot Health Conditions to Watch for
- Flat feet
- Heel pain
- Bowed legs
- Excessive tripping
- Ingrown toenails
- Plantar warts
- Skin fissures and cracks
An experienced child podiatrist at Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists can help your family understand your child’s foot issues and resolve them quickly.
Purchasing the Right Back-to-School Shoes
One of the best ways to ensure your child’s foot health is by getting them a great pair of shoes to start off the year. Here are some tips for finding the right ones.
- Pick the right style of shoe. Flexible, breathable sneakers that tie or have Velcro that pulls snugly on top and have thick, supportive soles are going to help your child’s feet (and the rest of their body) stay healthy all year long.
- Inspect hand-me-down shoes. The price is right, but used, thrifted, or hand-me-down shoes often lack the support, fit, or cushioning that kids need because they are too worn out. Only choose this option if the shoes are nearly new.
- Skip online shopping. Online shopping can be convenient, but for school shoes, you’ll want to go to the store and make sure the shoes fit your child correctly, with arch support and wiggle room in the toe box.
- Don’t have your child “grow into” their shoes. It can be tempting to buy shoes a size bigger, so your child can grow into them. But while this might work with sweatshirts, it’s dangerous to put your child in shoes that are too large. They are a trip and fall hazard that can also promote foot issues.
- Check for irritation. During the first week of school, keep an eye on your kids’ feet for blisters, ingrown toenails, and rashes that can be the result of a poorly-fitting shoe.
- Consider foot protection. Shoes that leave the foot or toes exposed give less protection for the foot itself. A closed-toe shoe is safer for kids who are out and about at school.
- Fit shoes to the larger foot. Many kids have feet that are slightly different sizes. Fit the shoe to the larger foot to avoid the most foot health issues.
Are Crocs Healthy Shoes for Kids?
Crocs became available in the early 2000s and had a bit of a moment, and they are now surging again in popularity—this time with kids and teens. But no matter what you might think of their aesthetics, some parents wonder if they’re healthy for their child’s feet.
At Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists, we recommend that parents choose a more structured and supportive shoe for their kids, such as a sneaker or running shoe. While Crocs should be fine for kids to wear periodically, especially around the house, there are better choices for school shoes.
Kids who have flat feet, kids who shuffle, or kids who need more arch or rearfoot support should skip the Crocs.
School Sports and Child Foot Health
Kids who play after-school sports need to have their foot health monitored even more closely so they stay healthy on the playing field. If your child plays school sports, there are ways to help them avoid foot conditions that could interfere with their new season.
Foot Health: Tips for School Athletes
- Get your child fitted at the store, so a professional can help you find the perfect shoe and perfect fit.
- Inspect sporting fields for dangerous conditions such as divots or holes.
- Choose the right shoe for the sport—tennis shoes for tennis, soccer shoes for soccer, etc.
- Make sure your child warms up and hydrates. Foot health is directly related to overall health, and eating right, drinking water, and stretching all go a long way toward a successful season.
Schedule a Foot Health Exam for Your Child
If you have concerns about your child’s foot health or if you want your child to get a healthy foot exam before school starts, we are here to help. An experienced Keller podiatrist at Alliance Foot & Ankle can help ensure that your child has all of the information and the right footwear to start their school year out right.