Back to School! What to Consider When Buying Your Child’s New School Shoes

Confused when buying school shoes? You’re not alone.

Here’s a comprehensive guide for what to consider when buying new school shoes

 Did you know that your kids’ feet will spend up to 30 hours or more a week in their school shoes? This represents a large number of their school years spent within enclosed shoes, making it vital they’re fitted correctly.

Throughout a child’s school years their feet will grow and change along with their bodies, and therefore ill-fitting shoes can lead to problems in adulthood, such as ingrown toenails, corns, bunions and biomechanical changes.

Some handy tips will help everyone make an informed decision on the correct footwear.

Are both my feet the same?

Most children, and adults, will have one foot that is longer or wider, so it’s important to check both feet. As most shoes are sold as a pair rather then individually it is recommended to fit shoes to the longer and/or wider foot rather then the smaller one. The helps prevent cramming of the larger foot, especially around the toe.

Are my feet unique?

Your children's feet are still growing and the bones in their feet, still developing. Children’s feet come in all different shapes and sizes, some may have flat flexible feet, some may have high arches that are more rigid. Neither are good nor bad, however you should try and get a shoe that corresponds best to your child foot structure and appearance. If you’re unsure of your child’s foot type or what shoes suits best, then you should consult a podiatrist.

Do my feet fit correctly in these shoes?

If you're unsure whether new school shoes fit correctly or not, a good place to start is with the toes. Children should be able to move their toes freely, ideally have a thumbs width from the longest toe to the front of the shoes, the shoes shouldn't hurt and there should be no bulges from the toes on either side of the shoe. This should be done whilst standing as it takes in to consideration soft tissues expansion that we all get from non-weightbearing to weightbearing.

Can I pass down shoes from my other children?

Ideally shoes should be bought new and not be handed down in the family. Worn shoes will have moulded to the shape of the previous child's foot and could cause problems for your child's feet. Remember feet are unique. Slip-on shoes are also not recommended for long-term use, with podiatrists advising lace-up, Velcro or buckle-up shoes for school children.

Are growing pains normal? Is it growing pains?

In years gone by, children complaining of pain in the legs and feet would be told not to worry as it was just due to 'growing pains'. Expert opinion has since changed, and podiatrists now recommend parents get any foot or leg pain checked out, as most foot pain in children is preventable.

When to see a podiatrist

If any of the below are exhibited, it may be time for a check-up with a podiatrist.

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

  • Unexplained tripping and falling that is more frequent or regular then other children of a similar age

  • Irregular shoe wear

  • Skin or toenail irritation

  • Pain whilst or after exercise

  • Any other lower limb related complaint that does not resolve spontaneously