This article is from the Solefit shoe store chain which specializes in children's shoes.
We have a lot of parents bringing their children into SoleFit, and one of their primary concerns is often 'how do they find shoes for their kids feet?'. And, we thought we'd put this little article together just to hopefully give some of the parents out there a brief guideline of things to look for when they're buying shoes for their children.
Now we're humans, and how humans learn to adapt to hard ground is by bending their knees, by leaning forward, by putting their foot more below them. So if we put our children in these really, really stiff, overly constructed shoes, we lose all of those cues and the ability to walk properly. So let's just take a simple analogy, and say we wanted to take a young child and protect them from a very hot stove, or very sharp glass. And so we put a big, thick glove on their hand.
Now the problem is (a) they're never going to learn to not touch that hot stove but (b) if you took that glove off in five to ten years, you've lost a lot of dexterity and muscle control with the fingers and it's the same thing with our feet. So let's look at a few things that we look at when we're recommending footwear for children.
So the first one may seem pretty obvious but it's really important to just find a shoe that matches the shape of your child's foot. Now if you look at any young child's foot they're generally going to be the widest at the end of the toes.
But if you look at most footwear for children, it's usually widest at the base of the toes which can cause a real pinching of the toes and lead to misalignment down the road.
If you take the insole out of the shoe when you're going to buy the shoe, have your child stand on the insole. If their toes are splaying over the sides, try to find something that may be a little bit more square and stays wider up towards the end of the shoe.
Another issue is buying shoes that are too long, this is a problem that we see a lot. Now especially if you're buying something that is overly constructed, these shoes have these little ridge lines which make the shoes bend at a certain spot and if the child's toes are too far back, the shoe won't bend in the right spot.
So we are really just trying to mimic the child's barefoot when buying shoes.
Our feet are pretty miraculous in that they bend, they stretch, and they move in all kinds of different ways to be able to distribute forces properly when we're walking or running. So if a shoe is very, very stiff we take away the foot's natural ability to be able to do that. So again, looking for footwear that's minimalist, flexible is what we want.
The next one is a toe spring and toe spring is really just the elevation from the toe to the ground at the front of the shoe. Now ironically, why this is important is that if you have a shoe that's very, very stiff, they need to put that rocker sole at the front to help the foot move properly.
But we don't want our child's toes up in the air all day. We want our child's feet to develop properly and want their toes to be engaged. So again, we want to keep those shoes fairly flat and we want to eliminate the shoe being really curved up at the front along with the stiffness.
And the last one that's really important is the heel height. Now if we look at most children's shoes, they're elevated about an inch from the heel to the toe.
Now, if this is for a 9 year old kid, this is similar to an adult wearing a two inch heel relative to height.
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