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Growing Feet

Remember that the child foot becomes an adult foot gradually over the years.The foot is still growing all the way up to around 18 to 20 so continuing to take care
and be careful with children’s shoes is just as important for teenagers.

Ask the Expert
Podiatrist Emma Supple answers some common questions about children’s foot health:

Q: Why do I need to get my children’s shoes fitted?
Emma says: “Growing feet need room to grow, and children’s feet grow in variable bursts so being vigilant and awareness is key. It is recommended that children get their feet measured every 6-8 weeks before they begin school and then every 3-4 months once they begin school. Even if children haven’t outgrown their shoes they should be replaced if the shoes are worn out. If children aren’t wearing correctly fitted shoes, it can create or sustain foot deformities that may have a significant impact on their adult lives due to foot problems.”

Q: How will I know their shoes are too small?
Emma says: “There is no exact rule to tell you when your children’s feet will grow, and it is difficult to predict growth spurts. If your children are showing any discomfort when they are walking, or getting redness from their shoes, this is a clear sign. Ideally it wouldn’t get to this stage – you can test shoes by looking inside for wear marks and doing the thumb test, where you press the shoe at the end, will give you a good guide to how much room is left. Coupled with regular measuring you can ensure that they always have the right sized shoe.”

Q: Should I buy shoes that my child will grow into?
Emma says: “You shouldn’t buy shoes that are more than one size too large for your child in the hope they will grow into them or if you do ensure they do not wear them until they are ready to fit into them. Shoes that are too big could cause a child to develop foot problems and/or develop inherited foot problems. It is also advisable not to hand down shoes from siblings or friends as the shoe will have shaped themselves to someone else’s foot.”

Q: What shall I do if my child has one foot bigger than the other?
Emma says: “Some children can have one foot larger than the other. If this is the case then buy shoes to accommodate the largest of the two feet.”

Q: What are the health implications of my child wearing poorly fitted shoes?
Emma says: “In the short term conditions such as redness and soreness, bunching up of the toes and ingrowing nails if the shoes are overly tight. In the longer term developmental foot problems can be made worse by ill-fitting shoes and bunions and foot deformities such as hammer toe can be caused by poorly fitted shoes. Unsupportive and sloppy styles of shoe can lead to a similar gait (style of walking).

In addition, there are also longer term health implications from poorly fitted shoes such as back pain, knee problems and pain and posture problems.”


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