For those of you with school age kids, we hope your little ones have mostly settled into their new routine by now!
After three full weeks of classes, most Miami schoolkids have gotten over their end-of-summer disappointment—replaced by the excitement of reconnecting with their old friends and teammates and taking on new challenges in the classroom.
That said, the readjustment to school isn’t always an easy one for kids, and that’s especially true if they’re dealing with painful feet.
A couple of factors can increase a child’s risk of foot injury in the autumn. Youth athletes starting up school sports like football, volleyball, or cross-country after taking most of the summer “off” are particularly vulnerable. And almost all kids are still growing at an astounding rate until at least their early teens, which means their shoes might not always fit as well as they should.
If your child’s feet are already starting to ache so early in the school year—or you just want to make sure they don’t start anytime soon—read on.
Do Their Shoes Fit?
For school-aged kids with foot pain, bad shoes are one of the main culprits in a huge percentage of cases. As a parent, making sure your child is protected with high quality, appropriate footwear at all times is one of the most important things you can do for their feet.
But it’s not always easy! Kids’ feet can grow so fast that it’s sometimes hard to keep up. They could be about ready to bust out of their shoes before you notice any obvious signs of exterior wear.
As a result, a shockingly high percentage of kids are wearing shoes that are too small for them. In fact, a Swiss study a couple of years ago put that figure at almost two out of three!
Fortunately, your child doesn’t have to be one of them! Just be proactive. Your kids might not complain when their shoes get too tight, so check the fit yourself every month. Have your child stand up straight, then check:
- How much space there is between the longest toe and the front of the shoe (there should be a bit of wiggle room).
- Whether or not you can get your finger between the back of the heel and the shoe (it should be snug but you shouldn’t have to force it).
Other signs it might be time to get new shoes include red and swollen feet, shoes that are bulging at sides (most likely because they are too narrow), or even a child that is constantly pulling his or her shoes off or tripping over their own feet.
If They Don’t Fit, You’ll Need to Get New Ones
That’s obvious, of course. But you still need to know what shoes to get. Of course, you’ll need to test the fit with your fingers like you would with an old pair of shoes. But there are a few other tips you should following when shoe shopping with your little one.
Let’s start with what not to do:
- Don’t use hand-me-downs. They can hurt your little one’s feet and even cause blisters to form.
- Don’t intentionally buy shoes that are too big for your child. Although you might think you can save money by letting your kid “grow into” a big pair, this can also harm their feet.
- Don’t assume a generic pair of sneakers is “good enough” if your child plays a particular sport (volleyball, cross-country, etc.) regularly. You should always buy sport-specific shoes for your young athlete in training—this will help them perform better and reduce their injury risk.
With those out of the way, here are some things you should do when shoe shopping with your child:
- Go later in the day after school, since your child’s feet will likely be slightly swollen. This ensures the shoe will still be big enough to fit a slightly enlarged foot.
- Always measure your child’s feet before trying on pairs. This is especially important for getting the shoe width correct—not just the length.
- Make sure your child is wearing the same type of socks that they will normally wear with the shoes you’re buying.
Teach Them Good Basic Foot Care Habits
When they’re really little, parents have to care for their feet. But as they grow up, they should begin to develop healthy habits. A little basic, proactive foot care goes a long way!
- Make sure they’re washing and drying their feet every day.
- Teach them not to go barefoot in public locations like gyms, locker rooms, shower facilities, pool decks, playgrounds, etc. Cuts, scrapes, and even fungal or viral infections (athlete’s foot, warts, etc.) can spread easily this way.
- Teach them how to care for their toenails. Cut the nail relatively straight across, without rounding the corners too much. Keep them about even with the toe-tip—in other words, not too short and not too long. Cutting nails too short (or letting them grow too long) can greatly increase the risk of an ingrown toenail developing.
Bring Them in For a Checkup if Their Feet Hurt
Foot pain should always be taken seriously, whether you’re 8 years old, 80 years old, or any other age.
Some minor aches and pains go away after a few days, but if your child has had symptoms for at least a week, or is in serious pain, don’t leave things to chance. Addressing foot problems early in life helps ensure healthy feet later in life!
At Omega Medical Group, we always prioritize treatments that will keep your little one as active as possible so they can get back to running, playing, and doing what they love to do! To schedule an appointment, please give us a call today at (305) 514-0404.