- Never carry more than 10% of your body weight
- Always wear a backpack over both shoulders
- Pack heavy items closest to your spine
We often associate back pain with growing older, but these days many children and young people are experiencing back pain discomfort too. Often, the cause of the back pain for children is a result of carrying excessive loads to and from school in ill-fitting backpacks.
What happens when you wear a heavy backpack?
The spine is made of 33 bones called vertebrae and between the vertebrae are discs that act as natural shock absorbers. When a heavy backpack, with too much weight is placed on the shoulders of a child it can pull them backwards. To compensate this imbalance, the child may bend forward at the hips or arch the back, which can cause the spine to compress the discs unnaturally.
As much as we hate to think about it, the school year is almost upon us, and it’s time to start thinking about shopping for children’s school supplies, clothes and shoes.
Here are a few tips we recommend you follow when purchasing footwear for your children.
Before you go to the store…
First, before you head out to the store, know what type of shoe or shoes your child will require throughout the school year.
- dress shoes for a uniform
- gym shoes to be left at school
- shoes for extra-curricular activities
Many teens complain of foot pain, but the pain is often because of the types of shoes they are wearing. Teens are often focused on wearing the “cool or popular” shoes despite comfort or fit. So, have a plan as to exactly what you need to purchase before you go out shopping, it may prevent melt-downs and disappointments at the store.
Comfort: not too big & not too small
Proper fitting footwear should feel comfortable the moment you try it on. It is not true that a snug-fitting shoe will stretch out over time. They are more likely to cut off circulation and cause blisters. In turn, buying shoes that are too big for your kids, hoping that they’ll grow into them later may seem like a good idea financially, but they can cause other issues such as: tripping over the too long toe box, the flex point of the shoe (where it naturally bends) won’t match up to your child’s toes properly, and when shoes are too big they can slide around causing blisters.
Toe Wiggle Room & Snug Heel
To allow feet to function properly, there should be a minimum of ¼” of space, or approximately a thumb-nail width away from the longest toe of your child’s largest foot. This should be measured while your child is standing, because feet do expand while weight-bearing. Also, make sure that the shoes fits snugly around your child’s heels – but does not dig in. Look for shoes with a firm heel counter (the hard piece of material at the back of the shoe) as it controls the side-to-side motion of the foot, and increases stability and support.
Measure both feet & match foot and shoe shape
Children’s feet grow very quickly. It is not uncommon for a child’s foot to change size every three to four months, and it is also true that most people have one foot larger than the other. So make sure you have both your child’s feet measured each and every time you buy new shoes. For this reason, it is not recommend to purchase shoes online. Also, for a shoe to fit properly, the shape of the shoe must match the shape of the foot. If your child’s foot looks wide and square than the shoe should mirror it and feature a wide toe box.
Think twice about second hand shoes
Saving a few dollars by accepting hand-me-over shoes from a family member or friend can sound like a great idea for your pocketbook, but may not be the best choice for your child’s feet. Used shoes are already worn to the shape of another child’s foot, and as a result they probably won’t fit or support your child’s foot properly.
Ask a foot specialist
If you have any concerns about your child’s feet, book an appointment with one of our foot specialists. We will look at your child’s gait and muscle development, provide accurate measurements, assess if orthotics are required, and provide expertise on what footwear would work best for your child’s feet.
If the shoe fits properly today… it can help prevent the problems of tomorrow.
Book an appointment with our foot specialist and ensure you are looking for the right type of shoes, and getting exactly the right fit for your child.