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Monday, 21 April 2014

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FOOTCARE specialists TOG Orthotics International is advising savvy parents that it is possible to find children’s footwear that is affordable and appropriate in time for the return to school in September.

Clinical director of TOG Orthotics, Dr Paul Barrett says: “In times of ever-tightening family budgets, it is important for parents to realise that it’s possible to buy suitable children’s shoes, that won’t hurt little feet – or the bank – provided they know what to look for.”

It is important to choose appropriate, well-fitting footwear for children because as their feet are still forming, they are so much more susceptible to damage than adults. These shoes are also more likely to be hard wearing, meaning they won’t wear out or need replacing so quickly.

Dr Barrett continues: “When buying for school-age kids, look for a stable, solid shoe along the lines of a traditional school shoe, runner or classic man’s shoe. Trainers are a perfect choice, and most kids like them and they are pretty hard wearing.”

When buying school shoes, parents should choose:

1) The right time of day to buy shoes. Feet spread and swell during the day, and so the afternoon is the best time of day to go shopping;

2) The right-fitting shoes. Make sure your child’s foot is fully extended (no toe-scrunching) and measure while your child is standing. Allow ½ inch between your child’s longest toe and the edge of the shoe, and make sure your shoes aren’t too tight or too loose, as both cause problems;

3) A shoe with a non-slip or patterned sole to minimise the risk of slipping. Soles should be flexible but durable and thick enough to prevent injury;

4) A flexible shoe. Bend the shoe. It should bend at the ball of the foot, never in the middle, across the arch;

5) A broad-based heel, as wide as the shoe. Make sure that the heel of the shoe fits snugly around the back of your child’s heel;

6) Shoes with either laces or Velcro-style fastenings that allow for width adjustment and provide the best fit. Avoid slip-on or backless shoes;

7) A shoe with a suitable heel. Do not buy high heels or completely flat shoes. Both place huge pressure on the Achilles tendon and arch of the foot;

8) A shoe with a toe box (the front of the shoe) that mimics the shape of your child’s foot. So if your child has a square-shaped foot, choose a shoe with a square-shaped toe box etc;

9) A shoe lining that enables a child’s feet to breathe, such as leather or canvas, because children’s feet sweat more than adults

Allow room for insoles if required. If your child already wears orthotics (prescription insoles) be sure the shoe you purchase can accommodate them.

TOG Practitioners can offer expert advice on children’s feet and, where necessary, can prescribe custom-made orthotics (prescription insoles) to help correct foot abnormalities, eg toe in/out, flat foot.

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