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With the new school year just around the corner, it’s fantastic to see the kids decorating their school books, getting their bags and uniforms ready and getting excited about what classes they’ll be in. But what about their feet?

Having the right gear and care for their feet is an easy and simple way to help your child get the best start to the school year!  Two healthy feet can keep your student feeling comfortable, out of pain, able to run and play with their friends, and not miss out on school activities and sports.

To help, My FootDr has put together our top 5 ways to start this school year on the right foot!

1. Shoes That Fit

Selecting the best school shoes for your child’s feet is about much more than just the size. Just like how you don’t base your child’s meal choice on simply an age-based recommended serving size without considering what it contains, what they like or any intolerances – it’s important to account for multiple factors when selecting shoes including:

  • The slight change in foot size during the day – our feet tend to start smallest in the mornings and swell slightly throughout the day
  • Checking the position of the lower leg and ankle in the school shoe – is the ankle being supported and stabilised in a good position? Does the ankle support encourage good alignment of the lower leg?
  • How much arch support your child needs – does your child have flat feet and can benefit from in-built arch support in the shoes? Or do they have high-arched feet and require a neutral shoe with no extra arch support which may otherwise tip them out and put them at risk of spraining their ankle?
  • Having the right width, as well as the right length
  • Considering the lining and the seams inside the shoes – are they going to be rubbing against any bumps or sore spots like children’s bunions?
  • Ensuring the fit is done to the longest toe on the longest foot – often this is the second toe, not the big toe, which is why many kids end up with a clawed second toe
  • Checking any bulging at the sides of the shoes and what it means for your child’s comfort
  • Making sure the shoes aren’t too long to the point where they may cause avoidable trips and falls
  • The thickness of the socks to be worn in the shoes, these should be typical of what your child would normally wear at school
  • The lacing technique – there are so many! You don’t have to stick with the one that comes with your shoes. For some kids, the difference between full comfort and pain is in the lacing technique
  • Specific shoe features including materials, depth, heel counter strength, firmness of the shank, flexibility at the ball of the foot

If you’d like assistance when getting your child fitted for shoes, visit your local My FootDr. All of these points and many others are checked when you bring your child in for a professional shoe fitting with your My FootDr podiatrist. 

2. Trimming Toenails Correctly

Incorrectly trimmed toenails are our #1 cause of painful ingrown toenails in children, with shoes that are too small coming in at a close second. Our golden rules for good nail cutting are:

  • Trim straight across your toenails – don’t cut down the sides of the nails or round the edges of the nails
  • Use proper nail trimming scissors or straight-edge clippers every time – don’t use craft scissors or pull the excess nail off by hand
  • Manage sharp ends gently using a nail file – but don’t overdo it or use the nail file to create rounded edges. The goal of filing is to eliminate sharp nail edges that may cut into skin and socks 
  • Leave just a couple of millimetres of white nail at the tips – don’t leave too much, and don’t cut it so fine that your child gets painful toes
  • Aim to trim or check your child’s toenails every month

3. Encourage Physical Activity

Getting your kids moving daily has more health benefits for your little one than many realise! These include helping with:

  • Better focus and concentration at school
  • Being able to better manage stress
  • Healthy growth and development
  • Better posture and balance
  • Stronger bones, joints and muscles
  • Improved self-esteem
  • More social interaction with friends and social skill development
  • A stronger heart

Kids are best led by example, so teaching them and playing with them is a perfect way to help them enjoy getting active. Sit down and chat to your kids about what new activities or sports they’d like to try this year, keep an activity log, or make a plan for new activities throughout the year – you’d be surprised at what they may come up with! 

4. Have The Right Socks 

Having good socks that are the right size and fit go a very long way in helping protect children’s feet, prevent blisters and other problems, and improve the comfort of their school shoes. Make sure:

  • The size of the sock is appropriate not just for your child’s age range but also for their foot size too! Some feet grow faster than others and socks that are too small can restrict movement, while socks that are too big may bunch and cause friction and be generally uncomfortable or painful to wear
  • The sock cradles the foot nicely and doesn’t slip down
  • The sock doesn’t leave imprints into the feet, ankles or legs – this is a sign they are likely too small or tight, so may restrict circulation 
  • The heel pad sits nicely beneath the heel and isn’t sitting behind the heel or towards the arch
  • The seam at the toes of the sock is well-positioned in line with the toes. You want the seams to be as small and fine as possible, this reduces the risk of blisters, rubbing and pains
  • The socks are made from a breathable material that will draw moisture away from the feet, helping prevent blisters. Try to avoid synthetic materials where possible. Cotton is often preferred for its durability, absorbency and comfort
  • The socks fit well with existing school shoes – check for fit and comfort together, as the two must work together as a team all year!

5. Good Foot Hygiene

You’re already teaching your child many healthy habits about food and everyday living – and foot hygiene is no exception. Great habits to set in motion include:

  • Getting kids to remove their shoes and socks when they get wet – instead of walking around all day in wet socks that can encourage fungal skin and nail infections, blisters, the breakdown of the skin, and unpleasant smells! Having a dry pair of socks on hand is always a great option, and so is alternating between two pairs of shoes day-to-day to let each pair fully dry and air out between use
  • Washing their feet daily – washing feet right before jumping into bed is a great habit to form, especially after walking around on various grounds and floors all day
  • Drying well between the toes – taking the time between the toes can discourage problems like athlete’s foot and the breakdown of skin between the toes (maceration) due to trapped moisture
  • Putting sunblock on the feet and toes when outdoors – feet need sun protection too, but are often overlooked. If your family is heading to the beach or getting outdoors, don’t forget to apply sun protection to the feet and toes
  • Not ‘picking’ at callused skin on the feet – when skin is pulled, it can cause damage to healthy skin and be very painful. Loose skin should be left and not pulled
  • Communication about foot pains and problems – kids should know that when they have a foot pain or problem, whether it’s a wart, an ingrown nail or an injury after sports, they should let you know immediately so it can be managed effectively
  • Not popping blisters – when a blister bursts, it puts your child at risk of infection and pain. Blisters should be kept intact for as long as possible

And if your child does start to, or is already having any foot pain…

Then your local My FootDr podiatry centre is here to help. We treat children daily for a variety of problems from uncoordinated walking to growing pains. Some problems like corns on the feet we can fix simply and easily in one appointment, while others like in-toeing may just need a little help from custom foot orthotics and a child-friendly stretching and strengthening program.

Whatever the concern, regardless of how big or small, you can count on your local My FootDr team to support your kids in having their best school year yet!