Did you know that nearly two-thirds of all American children are wearing shoes that are the wrong size? That’s according to a study done in 2020 by blitzresults.com.
While it is not recommended for people of any age wear ill-fitting shoes, it is especially critical for children to wear appropriate footwear, fitted to their individual needs. Wearing ill-fitting shoes during the early stages of life can lead to lasting detrimental effects.
“The bones in children’s feet are very pliable due to the fact that they are made up of soft, spongy cartilage and they don’t fully ossify until they reach 16-19 years of age,” explains Neighborhood Health Center’s Chief Medical Administrator Dr. James Burruano, DPM, ABFAS, ACFAS. “Tight shoes and tight socks as a baby or infant grows can effect bone growth and overall development of the feet, as well as cause a wide range of both short term and long term podiatry issues.”
What Problems Can Ill-fitting Shoes Cause?
Squeezing little feet into shoes that are too tight or wearing shoes with too much room and little support can impact a child’s foot development and may cause a variety of health risks including:
· Blisters, cuts, skin irritation and other minor but uncomfortable foot ailments
· Ingrown toenails
· Hammertoes, calluses, corns, bunions and other foot deformities
· Nerve damage that causes numbness, tingling, muscle weakness or unusual pain
· Prolonged use of ill-fitting and unsupportive footwear can increase the risk of developing arthritis or joint pain later in life
What Type of Shoes Should My Child Wear?
When shopping for children’s shoes, be sure to have your child’s foot measured and purchase a shoe size that goes off the measurement of the longest foot. Often times, children can have as much as half an inch difference in the length of their feet.
Make sure your child can move their toes freely in the toe box of the shoe and check to see that there is a one-to-two-centimeter space, or about a thumb’s width, between the longest toe and front of the shoe.
Lastly, avoid the urge to buy bigger shoes knowing they’ll grow into them at some point. Shoes that are too large make children prone to falls.
There are endless shoe options available for children, but it’s important for parents to remember that they should always choose fit and function over fashion when it comes to their child’s footwear.
Neighborhood Health Center’s podiatry team is here to help you with foot problems. Click here to learn more about the podiatry services available at Neighborhood.