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Published on August 08, 2019

girl in preschool sitting on bench putting on shoes

Smart Tips for Back-To-School Shoes

Summer flies by about as fast as a kind trying out new running shoes.

Parents getting set to shop for back-to-school can use some advice on all things foot and ankle health. Katrina Almeida, DPM, Avera Medical Group podiatrist, offers these insights that can help anyone outfitting the kiddos for another year in the classroom.

They Do Grow Fast

Children churn through shoes as they grow, but remember to fit them properly when you’re buying new kicks for the kids. “You want no more than a finger’s width between their longest toe and the inside of the shoe,” said Almeida. “Remember the big toe isn’t always the longest toe, too. Don’t get shoes so big that their feet slide around inside.” Another tip: shoe shop with kids later in the day – our feet are a bit wider/bigger in the afternoon and evening than they are in the morning.

Support Those Arches

Flat feet is a common condition, and kids will often have flatter feet when they are younger. “Arch support is important and should be a parent’s focus when picking shoes,” she said. “Kids don’t reach skeletal maturity until their teens, so help them find good-fitting shoes that are comfortable and that support those arches.” Flat-footed condition is often genetic, but it’s usually not serious. Wider shoes may provide some comfort, but arch support is vital, no matter what. If a child has flatter feet and reports pain, talk to your family care provider.

The Workhorse of Footwear

Children from kindergarten to high school will go far with a comfortable athletic shoe style that provides good arch support and some cushion. Watch for soles that are wearing out and if a child reports sore feet or pain, check to see where the seams are located – and how the shoes are laced. “Tight laces or seams can cause a lot of pressure or pain, especially on the toes,” Almeida said. “Simply re-lacing the shoe can ease the discomfort.” Stick with supportive shoes. Flimsy or worn out shoes can lead to pain or even injuries in some rare cases.

That is a Funky Shoe

Get kids in the habit of unlacing and opening up their shoes when they get home to help them dry out. Don’t let them just kick them off and leave them. That’s where the smell comes from. “If you can cycle through a couple of pairs, you’ll give each one a chance to air out and become dry, and that can reduce odor,” she said. “Kids in soccer or other sports should get in the habit of airing their shoes, too. Don’t leave them in the bottom of the backpack or gym bag.” Powder can help, too, and while kids may shower or bathe regularly, they may not thoroughly dry their feet especially between the toes. And that can lead to bacteria growth and smelly feet.

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