3 question on: Fitting your kids for shoes

Jessica Young

1.  What should parents look for in a children’s shoe?

You want a wide toe box for the forefoot — the wider front part of the shoe that bends when you walk. The shoe should bend near where the big toe is. When the foot is in the shoe, you should feel something pushing up on the natural arch. For fit, you want a thumb’s width between the big toe and end of the shoe.

For sandals, you don’t want something completely flat from front to back, like flip flops. Leather and canvas are better than shoes with plastic on the outside. Parents are getting kids track shoes, but they should not be worn all the time. They’re meant to be worn for the length of a race — not all day, every day.

2. Are there dangers to wearing poorly fitted shoes?

Many lumbar spine problems that children encounter are related to the feet. Improper foot care early in life can lead to lots of problems as adults. Plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, bunions. A lot of things can be avoided by prevention.

In addition to having a good fit, you want to replace shoes frequently enough. Good running shoes have about a 400-mile lifespan, so cheaper everyday shoes are going to last about 100 to 200 miles. If your kids are really active, you want to change them out more often.

3. Should you get your child sized to help in shoe shopping?

It is good to make sure they’re measured properly. Call ahead to the store and ask for a certified pedorothist, who will have the education needed for fittings. A children’s Brannock Device should be used, and you should always be measured in a nonweight-bearing and weight-bearing position. Many people have a half- or whole-size fluctuation between when they’re sitting in a chair and standing up. You might get a 10.5 when you’re really closer to an 11 in your normal gait.