Growth Can Be a Running Issue

Growth Can Be a Running Issue

A&S_shoeshopFind out how children can get the best fit for their feet.

As adults, we’ve probably figured out how to find shoes that fit our feet, but how do you buy shoes for your children? They don’t always communicate effectively, not to mention their feet are growing — and often rapidly.

Young Children

Dr. Richard So, a pediatrician at the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital ­Independence Family Health Center, says that infants and crawlers “only need socks to keep their feet warm.” Once they are toddlers, he advises buying shoes that are inexpensive and breathable because children are going to outgrow them in two to three months.

With children ages 16 months and younger, their feet grow a half foot size every two months. From 17 months to 24 months, that growth slows to a half foot size every three months. A 2-year-old’s feet will grow every four months, while a 3-year-old’s foot size changes only every four to six months.

What To Look For In Shoes

The most important feature for your child might be the color, the cartoon character on the front or the latest fad, however, proper fit should rank first.

Dr. Erin Dean, orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeon at Crystal Clinic ­Orthopaedic Center in Hudson, refers her patients to good shoe stores “(to) get [their] feet measured appropriately.”

She notes it’s “most important to make sure you don’t get shoes that are too small.” Shoes that are too tight, especially in the toes, can lead to hammer toes, claw toes or bunions.

So also advocates for a wide toe box. He often sees children with ingrown toenails because the toe box is too narrow.

A&S_redshoesGetting The Right Fit

So how do you get a proper fit? Brian Dunphy at Lucky Shoes in Fairlawn Town Centre has been fitting shoes for 12 years.

According to Dunphy, sizing for ­children should allow for the “right amount of growth,” for a solid four to six months, “but not hinder the gait cycle (heel to toe walking).” He uses the thumb test to check for extra room in the toes. The consensus is that it should be “one-fourth to one-half of an inch.”

Take the time to lace up or fasten both shoes. Then watch your child walk back and forth to make sure it is a comfortable walk and that the shoes are not slipping off his or her feet. This is especially true with sneakers, Dean adds.

While younger children might be lacking knowledge about shoes, it’s important to listen to what they have to say. Dunphy says, “It’s all about feel” and “children don’t have a reason to fabricate” if it doesn’t feel good. Dr. So recommends trying a lightweight shoe for little walkers so they don’t get tired or get blisters from all their ­activity.

Also, consider the ease of Velcro when children are younger compared to shoes with laces, as the Velcro closure might just make life a little easier.

When a child has flat feet, a stiffer shoe is better. Simply, “something that doesn’t bend in half when you pick it up,” Dean says.

So notes the popularity of flip-flops with older kids, but cautions that they “offer the worst support.”Dunphy the best time to shop for your child’s shoes is “whenever you think your child has the best temperament.”

Feet Issues

Shoes may get the blame for kids’ feet problems, however, that is not often the case. Bunions and hammer toes can also be caused by injury or simply are genetic.

Other common concerns include athlete’s foot, flat feet and heel pain. With athlete’s foot, watch for itching or redness between the toes. The best prevention is keeping feet dry and changing socks regularly. Usually an over-the-counter medicine can be used to treat it.

If flat feet are not painful, there is nothing to worry about. Heel pain is another matter. It indicates something different in children than adults.  Sever’s disease is common in children and is caused by the inflammation of the growth plate at the heel.

It is related to overuse or may occur after a growth spurt.

“It’s reasonable to try the easy things first, such as activity modification for heel pain or arch supports for flat feet,” Dean says, “but if the pain continues, I’d recommend seeing a doctor.”


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