- Dr. Michael
An average, person walks about 50,000 kilometers in the course of his/her life. This distance can be measured approximately a walk around the earth. In order to maintain the health of the feet, it is important to give the necessary attention as early as in childhood. With regular foot care and attention the danger of permanent damage to the feet can be reduced effectively.
Concerning dangers for the feet
The most concerning dangers for the feet are inappropriate footwear, obesity and lack of exercise. If the conditions are unfavorable, then the development of the foot and gait pattern can be permanently damage. As a result, the muscles can shorten, anatomy can change or the toe position can become worse.
Avoid kid’s foot problems with the right shoes
Shoes protect our feet from many external influences. The shoes should be comfortable, avoid injuries and protect the child from dirt and danger. The foot must not be restricted in its freedom of movement. The toes should have enough space and not squeezed. The shoe must adapt to the movements of the foot and provide enough space for physiologic movement. The soles of the shoe need to be soft and flexible.
Benefits of walking barefoot
The protective effect and the need for shoes is undisputed. However, it is necessary to walk barefoot regularly. Children exercise by barefoot walking and running all the foot related muscles. If muscles are not trained then the performance of gait might suffer. For this reason, parents should have their children walking barefoot on different surfaces for a defined period of time during the day.
Bow legs and Knock-knees can be normal
In the different stages of development, the leg position and foot position changes. The physiologic development of the axis of the legs changes from bowlegs to knock-knees during certain phases in childhood. Caution is advised when the children increasingly stumble over their own feet while running or if side differences are noticeable. At the age of 6 to 8 years the axes of the legs should be straight and symmetric. To clarify undesirable developments, consult with a pediatric orthopedic surgeon.
Foot growth in children
Children’s feet grow up to three shoe sizes per year depending on their age and development. The growth is usually in spurts. It is normal that children have the same shoe size for several month and then suddenly grows by one or two shoe sizes. In order to prevent surprises, parents should regularly, for example once a month, measure their children’s feet. When the shoes are worn every day, make sure whether there is enough space between the tip of the big toe and the shoe. In this case, the shoe fits the toddler perfectly. The child’s foot should be checked on a daily basis to allow to find bruises, blisters, overuse symptoms, injuries or other unexpected developments.
Basic rules for purchasing and usage of children’s shoes
Children’s shoes are usually square or round shaped. Tight and too narrow shoes should be avoided for toddlers because the toes in this footwear do not get enough movement. Anti-slip soles provide the necessary support, even in wet weather and on slippery surfaces. Rubber boots are water repellent and suitable for autumn days. Soft upper leather with a cuddly filling is the right choice for winter. Socks with a high percentage cotton support the effect of breathability of natural shoe materials in children shoes. When it comes to water-repellent Goretex shoes, a high proportion of synthetics is required. If shoes are moist after usage give enough time for drying. Change socks on daily base. The weight of the shoes should be rather light than heavy. The lighter the shoes, the more muscles are relieved. For the summer light footwear, such as sandals or sports shoes are ideal. Regularly check the inner sole to avoid small stones, nails and foreign bodies to disturb your child’s gait pattern and comfort. High heels in children are generally not recommended as these are interfering with the foot stability, increasing injury risk and forefoot overload.
Several studies confirmed that almost every third child wear shoes that are too small. Unlike adolescents and adults, infants rarely express their discomfort in this regard. The sensitivity is reduced in the foot area, since the bones still relatively deformable and the nervous system has to develop even further. The foot adapts to the shoe after wearing a short time and is no longer perceived and unpleasant. Parents must make sure that shoes are suitable for the foot. Development of the feet is completed between the ages of 14 – 16 years.