Houston podiatrist discusses choosing the right back to school shoes

We're getting closer to back to school time. And, for some kids, it will be the first time enjoying in-person learning in almost two years. For others, the return will come after a summer full of camp and sports. 

Either way, the start of the school year is a great time to get your kids new shoes. I know your kids are looking for style. They don’t want to be the kid with the ugly, loser shoes. But making sure they have the proper shoes is essential for the health of their feet.

Just remember, kids feet grow and change fast. So don’t think you’re getting off easy with one shopping trip at the beginning of the school year. You may need to update their shoes every few months. Shoes that don’t fit well can cause them foot pain and affect how they feel all day.

And guess what? Even if kids' shoes still fit, they may need replacing. After all, worn out sneakers can't support their growing feet. Which can lead to foot pain, or difficulty with walking or playing sports.

Want to avoid these issues? We do too! So, with that in mind, here are some ways you can tell your kids' shoes need replacing. And, if they do, we've got some tips to help guide you to finding the best shoes for your kids. Hopefully they’ll find them stylish as well!


Signs of Worn Out Shoes for Kids

One of the best ways to know when shoes wear down is to be a visible detective. First, take a look at your child's midsole. (That's the thick part of the sole, sitting beneath your child's heel, that doesn't touch the ground.) If you see a lot of creases, it's time for a new pair of shoes.

Why is that the case? Creases on shoe soles suggest foam padding is shrinking on itself. And that means it won't absorb shock like it should. So your kids feet may start hurting.

Next, it's time to look at the shoes' outsole. (That's the part of your child's shoe beneath the toe. It may curve upwards because of something called toe spring.)

If the outsole wears down, you'll notice shallow treads. And that means yoru child's feet won't grip well as he or she walks, which could lead to slips and falls. Excessive wear on the outsole means less protection and grip.

Now, if you buy very durable shoes, you may not notice visible signs of wear and tear. But that doesn't mean the shoes aren't wearing out. Which is why visual signs aren't the only sign your child needs new shoes. So, if kids complain their shoes don't feel good, please believe them. And keep reading to find out the best ways to buy them a comfortable, supportive new pair of sneakers.


6 Rules for Buying New Kids' Shoes

When it comes to color and brand, let your child have some say in the sneakers they select for school. But when it comes to fit and safety, don't ever back down on these shoe-shopping rules!

1. Never use hand-me-down shoes or used shoes

The way your child’s feet function is unique to them. So, the way the shoes wear will be different for each kid. The shoes conform to the foot and won’t fit the same way.


2. Always test the shoe to make sure it is supportive

The best time to do this is BEFORE your child tries it on and falls in love with it.  What are you looking for? There should be a stiff heel. You can check by pressing on both sides of the heel. It should be solid and not squishy.

Make sure the shoe bends with your child’s toes. You can check by pushing up on the toes and making sure the shoe bends with it. The shoe shouldn’t be too stiff. Twist the shoe. It should be rigid in the midfoot and twist very little. Pro tip: Stay away from Keds, Vans, and Toms. They don’t meet these criteria.


Houston podiatrist recommends shopping for shoes with your child

3. Shop for shoes with your child

This will ensure that your child’s foot will be properly measured. This will allow for a properly fitting shoe. You also can use these tips to teach your child how to buy a good shoe. This will serve them well into adulthood.

4. Shop for shoes later in the day

Feet swell as the day goes on. This is even true for children. If you shop for shoes in the morning, you may find that they become tight as the day goes on. Also, if one foot is a little larger than the other, always buy shoes to fit the larger foot.


5. Shoes shouldn’t need to be “broken in.” Shoes should be comfortable right away. It’s a common myth that shoes need time to be worn and broken in. That’s not the case.

6. Make sure shoes are appropriate for your child’s activities. Athletic shoes are designed with the sport in mind. Basketball shoes are different than running shoes. This is because of the pivoting required on the basketball court. Yes, this means that you’ll end up buying more than one pair of shoes. But it’s worth it!


Even at Home, Never Go Barefoot

Kids are spending more time at home these days. But that doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t be dressed appropriately. And that includes wearing shoes. Going barefoot around the house all day can be detrimental to your child’s feet. This is especially true if you have wood or tile floors. Even a slip on shoe is better than barefoot. But avoid flip flops and low-cost plastic shoes. They are bad for your child’s feet in every case.

No child's feet should hurt. If your child complains of foot pain, be sure to visit Houston podiatrist Dr. Andrew Schneider. If there is any foot injury, call us and we'll get you in for an immediate appointment. We love seeing kids and making sure that they have no more foot pain.


Dr. Andrew Schneider
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A podiatrist and foot surgeon in Houston, TX.