With the changing leaves and cooler weather, many adults and children will be participating in sports: football, soccer, softball, and running, to name just a few. There is also is a flurry of activity associated with back to school prep that includes parents’ outfitting their children with new wardrobes, including new shoes. Many important factors should be considered when purchasing new “kicks” for children returning to school.
Back-to-School Shoe Shopping Tips
- Shoes that don’t fit properly can aggravate the feet.
- Always measure a child’s feet before buying shoes and watch for signs of irritation. Too big is just as bad too small. Buy the shoe that fits your child now, not one to grow into!
- Never hand down footwear.
- Just because a shoe size fits one child comfortably doesn’t mean it will fit another the same way. Also, sharing shoes can spread germs like athlete’s foot, nail fungus and the wart virus.
- Examine the heels.
- Children may wear through the heels of shoes quicker than outgrowing shoes themselves. Uneven heel wear can indicate a foot problem that should be checked by a podiatrist.
- Take your child shoe shopping.
- Every shoe fits differently. Letting a child have a say in the shoe buying process promotes healthy foot habits down the road. Also let the child take a “test drive” around the store in the shoes, better to find out before you buy if the shoe rubs somewhere.
- Buy shoes that do not need a “break-in” period.
- Shoes should be comfortable immediately. Also make sure to have your child try on shoes with socks or tights, if that’s how they’ll be worn.
- Do Your Child’s Shoes “Make the Grade?”
Take the “1, 2, and 3 Test:”
- Look for a Stiff Heel.
Press on both sides of the heel. It shouldn’t collapse.
- Check Toe Flexibility.
The shoe should bend with the child’s toes. It shouldn’t be too stiff or too flexible in the toe box area.
- Select a Shoe with a Rigid Middle.
Does the shoe twist or fold? A shoe should never twist or fold in half in the middle.
Sports-and-exercise related injuries in both adults and children commonly seen by Feet First Podiatric Physicians are the following:
Ankle/Foot Sprains are common injuries to the ligaments, one of the bands of tough, fibrous tissue that connect the ankle and foot bones at the joint and prevent excessive movement. Sprains that do not show improvement in three days should be seen by a podiatric physician. Investing in five to ten minutes of stretching and warming up and wearing the right shoe for the sport in which you are participating can help prevent this common athletic injury.
Muscle Strain is either a partial or total tear of muscle fibers in the muscle itself or the origin of the muscle. Exercisers frequently strain their lower leg and foot muscles during rapid movement sports such as football, soccer, running, and softball. Improper or inadequate warm-up are some of the contributing factors in this type of injury. Minor strains should heal in 1-2 weeks with rest. If pain lingers longer, consult a Feet First podiatrist.
Tendinitis is a common type of ankle and foot problem, which is an inflammation of the tendons—the tissue that connects muscles to bones. In sports, a tendinitis injury is usually the result of abnormal foot biomechanics, excessive foot pronation (tendency of the arch of the foot to flatten out too much), or a history of overuse in a specific sport (e.g., basketball, running, volleyball), which requires continuous high-impact, repetitive movements. Contact a Feet First podiatrist if pain does not improve or worsens after a few days of rest and ice therapy.
Stress Fractures are hairline breaks resulting from repeated stress on the bone. High-impact sports such as running, gymnastics, and volleyball can increase the risk of stress fractures. To prevent stress fractures, wear shoes that provide sufficient padding and support when you walk, run, dance, or perform any other activities that stress the bones of the foot. If continued pain persists, contact us at Feet First Podiatry.
Plantar Fasciitis is caused by inflammation of the connective tissue that stretches from the base of the toes, across the arch of the foot, to the point at which it inserts in the heel bone. Inflammation is caused by overuse with excessive foot flattening and is aggravated by tight calf muscles. Aerobic activities such as walking or running are usually related to this injury, but it can also result from basketball, football, or softball. Custom orthotics (custom devices for shoes), injections or physical therapy may be recommended by your podiatrist to help alleviate pain.