2020 Back to School Footwear Guide

School footwear guide

2020 Back to School Footwear Guide

Andrew Saunderson (podiatrist)

If you’re the parent of school-going children, you know only too well that kids love to run around, kick a ball and scuff their shoes. If you decide to buy cheap throwaway shoes for the new academic year knowing these shoes would be lucky to last two school terms, think again.

Those cheap $25 school shoes might be tempting but be aware that a cheap and poor-fitting pair could cause or exacerbate foot pain, knee pain, lower back pain and lifelong damage. Ill-fitting shoes can even cause blisters, corns and calluses.  Your kids will return home from school feeling tired, sore and irritable and even not wanting to partake in sport. Cheap can be expensive!

Take a look at your child’s shoes using the picture below as a guide. 

Notice any uneven shoe wear such as at the heel or forefoot area? Any horizontal crease lines along the midsole? Hole in the top of the toe box? Does the foot roll in even in shoes? Collapsed shoe? 

If so, it’s time to get your child’s feet looked at before you buy them a new pair. 

Footwear Anatomy

Back to school footwear guide

There are 6 features our podiatrists at footinjuryclinic always look for, with the cheaper pairs being more likely to possess fewer features. 

  • Measure once. Fit twice!

Always measure each foot. Not all feet are the same length and width. Size up in the afternoon since our feet swell towards the end of the day. 

  • Support

Ensure the shoe ONLY bends at the balls of the feet and NOT in the middle. Ensure the heel counter is firm. Ensure the shoe DOES NOT twist (like wringing out a towel). At the same time, avoid shoes that are heavy and or rigid. Avoid flimsy shoes or those with enough flex to fold into your pocket. 

Ensure the shoe has lace ups. This allows fastening from toes to ankle. Hold the foot in laced up shoe (at front and back). Does the heel slip out of the shoe?

Remember to choose shoes with laces before Velcro before buckles before slip-ons – in that order.

  • Mind the Gap

Shoes don’t stretch. Make sure there is a thumb space (your child’s thumb) between the end of the shoe and their longest toe. 

  • Shape of the Foot: Go Wide, Go Deep

Make sure there is enough space in width (at the toes/ forefoot) and depth. Look for footwear that is the shape of the foot or close to it. if you see the outline or bulging of the foot within the shoe, it’s not the right fit.

  • No Pain, No Gain

Footwear should be comfortable straight away, without feeling pain or pressure anywhere.

  • ‘They’ll Grow Into It’

Don’t be tempted to go up a shoe size so that your child will ‘grow into them’ to last them the entire year. Developing feet are vulnerable and require protection and support. So, despite what shoe seller experts tell you, it’s a no-no from the podiatrists at footinjuryclinic. Think about it – would we as adults wear a size up? 

School Rules: Black, Leather and Lace Up

Not all black leather school shoes are built to for surviving recess and lunch, where kids play and run around. It would seem a sports trainer would be more appropriate, although it’s hardly practical to bring a second pair to school. Fortunately, several footwear companies are meeting the criteria in the classroom and in the playground. For instance, Ascent, New Balance, Asics and Brooks offer a black leather school shoe disguised as running shoes. Of these brands, Ascent guarantee the product will endure 6 – 12 months of harsh wear and is endorsed by the Australian Podiatry Association. If you follow our guide of what to look for in a shoe, the brand won’t matter. 

If you’re still in doubt, our podiatrists are here to help and guide you find a good pair of school or sports shoes for your children. Give us a call to book an appointment. Let’s aim for healthy, happy, active feet this year!