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School shoes (And Why It’s Not Just About Fit)

We all know kids grow a lot over the school holidays and often you need to buy new uniforms and new school shoes.

If their uniform is a little baggy that’s fine, it’s not a fashion contest, and they’ll grow into it during the year. However, school shoes must fit correctly from the get-go.But, there’s one more thing that’s just as important as correct fit, you need to pay close attention to the symmetry of the shoes.

Young Patient

Gait AnalysisSome time ago a young girl visited our Cairns clinic, and she was complaining of very painful ankles during the day while she was at school. It was no bother when she played sport, and it was okay at home, but as soon as she put her school shoes back on her ankle discomfort would return. The left ankle was also more painful than the right.

As part of our biomechanical assessment, her walking pattern, foot range of motion, muscle strength and flexibility were all assessed. We also took a close look at her current athletic and school footwear.

First, we checked if the shoe was appropriate for her foot-type? Some shoes are more suited to feet that roll inwards too much (over-pronate) and others for high arched feet (over-supinate).

Checking Footwear Symmetry

Next, we looked at the symmetry of her footwear? When we examined her school shoes, we were shocked to find they had become distorted and this was not from excessive wear, as they were relatively new shoes.

The back of her school shoes, the heel counter, had been stitched incorrectly and this was causing them to twist outwards, and it was more noticeable on the left than the right, which matched her ankle discomfort.

Her feet already rolled outwards too much, and when combined with poorly made school shoes, that also twisted outwards, it was always going to cause ankle issues, but as soon as her parents purchased new footwear her ankle problems resolved.

Cheap Footwear

Cheaper footwear can often distort with minimal use when worn for long periods of time each day at school. However, this was not the case here. Instead, this was a manufacturing error.

Distorted footwear can have a dramatic effect on how the foot functions, especially if the foot already rolls inwards, or rolls outwards more then it should, and long-term this can lead to increased foot, ankle, knee and lower back pain.

Because children’s feet are still developing if their footwear is throwing their foot the wrong way it can cause long-term damage or deformity.

Here’s Our Tip

When purchasing school shoes, you should place them on a flat surface and look at them from behind, looking for irregularities in the heel counter. You should do this for all footwear; even expensive shoes can have manufacturing faults.

If they’re not symmetrical and even, give them back to the shoe salesperson and ask for another pair. Do not purchase the shoe until you’re happy, as you should never feel pressured.

Now, there will always be slight discrepancies between left and right shoes, because left and right shoes are manufactured independently of each other and simple errors can occur, however, if you notice a considerable discrepancy, you should move on to another pair quickly.

Words by Tyson E. Franklin, My FootDr

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