Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tips to get a leg up on back-to-school shoe shopping

(ARA) - She lived in sandals all summer long and he barely took his cleats off, even to go to bed. Summer fun and casual style may leave your kids facing back-to-school season in serious need of some new shoes.

"Notebooks, pens and new clothes aren't the only fresh supplies children need when heading back to school. Quality shoes that provide the support growing feet need are among the most important purchases on any back-to-school shopping list," says Dr. Kathleen Stone, president of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA).

While your kids will certainly have something to say about the style of shoes they want, back-to-school shoe shopping isn't child's play. Parents should consider several important factors before buying new shoes for their children, the APMA advises.

* Take your child shoe shopping with you, rather than buying something without your child present. Every shoe fits differently and buying something in your child's size doesn't necessarily ensure a proper, comfortable fit. Measure your child's feet (both of them, since feet are rarely exactly the same size) and have her try the shoes on. Plus, letting a child have a say in the shoe-buying process can help ensure she adopts healthy foot habits later in life. Children's foot health is as important as adult foot health.

* Feet swell later in the day, so it's best to try on shoes later in the day when feet are their largest.

* When evaluating a shoe, look for a stiff heel. Press on both sides of the heel counter to measure for stiffness; it shouldn't collapse. The shoe should bend with your child's toes. It shouldn't be too stiff or bend too much in the toe box area. It should also be rigid, and should never twist in the middle.

* Don't rely on last year's shoes. Children's feet grow like the rest of their bodies. Shoe and sock sizes may change every few months as their feet grow. Even if last season's shoes are in good condition, they likely won't fit properly after several months of your child's feet growing.

* Never hand down footwear. A used shoe may be the right size for your child, but still might not fit comfortably, especially if it's seen a lot of wear and tear. Just because the shoe fit one child comfortably, doesn't mean it will fit another the same way. Also, sharing shoes can spread foot fungi like athlete's foot and nail fungus.

* Buy for the larger foot. Mismatched feet are more common than not. Measure your child's feet to see which is larger and select shoes that best fit the larger foot.

* Choose shoes that are comfortable right away. Avoid shoes that need a "break-in" period. And be sure your child tries shoes on while wearing the type of socks he'll be wearing with the shoes on a regular basis.

"Healthy feet and comfortable shoes play important roles in children's overall health," Stone says. "Parents should monitor their children's foot health and seek the advice of a podiatrist if they notice a problem. Podiatrists are specially trained to diagnose and treat ailments of the foot and ankles in people of all ages." You can find a podiatrist at the APMA's website, www.APMA.org.

Courtesy of ARAcontent



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