The new school year is here. In addition to buying all the necessary crayons, pens, pencils and notebooks for their children, parents are also likely shopping for new shoes for their kids.
Shoes are so important to a child’s success in school. Buying the right shoes with the right fit will keep the child moving and focused throughout the school year. School can be demanding and having supportive, comfortable shoes will help him or her avoid the distractions an ill-fitting shoe can produce. As podiatrists, we are in the unique position to educate children and parents on the importance of making the right choice in this back-to-school purchase.
Here are some tips you may want to share with patients when discussing shoe shopping.
- Do not assume that the child’s foot did not grow since the last purchase. Growth can occur in a short period of time so make sure the child is measured for shoe size and width regularly.
- Does the child’s school have a dress code? It is important that the parent check with the school to clarify the shoe gear requirement(s). This will save time for the parent and help you as the provider to tailor your recommendations accordingly.
- Since children’s feet are often sweaty, encourage the parent to find shoe gear that incorporates antimicrobial materials or linings that wick away moisture.
- Stress to parents to not buy larger shoes thinking the child will grow into them. We know this can be very uncomfortable and may lead to problems such as blisters, tendonitis or injuries from slipping out of the shoe, as well.
- Educate parents and children on the features of a well-fitting, supportive shoe. We as podiatrists know that the numerical size is not the whole story. Early education will set the child up with knowledge that can positively impact his or her foot health for years to come.
- Finally, if the child has custom orthotics, encourage the parent to regularly check for any signs of wear and tear or signs that the child may be outgrowing them.
In our practice, we are conducting shoe size measurements in the office that are open to the community. In addition to providing a service to our neighbors, we hope that this poses an opportunity to introduce our offices and doctors to prospective patients. These open community events may inspire a parent to make an appointment for his or her own foot concern or make him or her remember you when a child has an ingrown nail, fracture or needs surgery. It is a win-win situation for both the patients and your practice.