With the school year starting up again, it’s time to make sure your kids are equipped! Notebooks, pencils, clothes depicting whatever video game is popular these days … oh, and gym shoes!

Having a comfortable pair of shoes that work well for gym class, daily hall traversing, and recess is a big plus. In fact, you very likely want at least two pairs (a bit more on this later)!

And while you’re at it, why don’t you get yourself a pair of good gym or running shoes too! Don’t think you need a pair? Let’s consider some signs you may.

Signs You (an Adult) Need New Shoes

  • Your treads are heavily worn out, or you are seeing uneven wear (one side or end significantly more worn out than the rest of the shoe).
  • Your feet hurt while you’re using them.
  • You are seeing problems such as blisters, calluses, or bruised toenails.

Signs Your Child (a Child) Needs New Shoes

  • Are you kidding? With how fast kids’ feet grow, you’ll probably need new shoes if it’s been more than 4-6 months since the last pair, depending on their age. Get your child’s feet measured to find out for sure!
  • But also, if you are seeing any of the signs for adults above, those remain good indicators.

Continuing to use footwear that is degrading can lead to plenty of discomfort and problems—and you or your child will inevitably start to feel it, if you have not already. Even if the shoes look all right from a visual standpoint, the materials they are made of can still degrade enough over time to not provide the proper support.

So, do you need new shoes? Are you ready to take your child shoe shopping (best of luck!)? Here are some important factors you should be looking for in a new pair of gym shoes—both for your child and for you.

Know When to Go

Feet change size through the day, and you want a shoe that will fit well at any time.

Heading to the shoe or sporting goods store later in the day, around late afternoon, will place feet at about the largest size they are naturally, due to a day spent standing and moving around. If they fit well then, they will likely fit well throughout the day.

Know Your Size and Gait

Every foot is different, and size and structure can change over time.

For children, make sure their feet are measured every time you go out for new shoes. You will want to make sure you have the most up-to-date perspective on their shoe size.

That said, do not take the number you are given as pure gospel. One posted size for a certain brand of shoe might not provide the same exact space as the posted size of another brand. Use the shoe size as a good guideline, but still check the fit.

Gait (the way you walk and distribute weight across the foot) is also an important factor in determining the style of support needed in a shoe. You can determine this at home by stepping into a shallow pan of water and stepping on construction paper or a folded-up paper bag. Then, look at the footprint:

  • If you see the entire sole of the foot with little to no curve on the inside, that means flat feet.
  • If you see very little of the middle of the foot—even a full disconnect between the forefoot and the heel—that means high arches.

This is good info to bring to a trained store associate, who may also ask to see how you walk. Based on this information, they can recommend shoes that will provide more specific support.

In some cases, structural abnormalities and gait might cause enough discomfort and pain that you may need more advanced methods of treatment, such as custom orthotics. Give us a call if you or your child has consistent foot discomfort or heel pain.

Check the Fit

Of course, size and gait don’t mean much if the shoe itself remains a no-go for fit!

Spend a bit of time walking around inside the store to test the fit and comfort of any shoe. Check that the heel does not slide much, that the toes have enough room to wiggle, and that there is about a thumb’s width of space between the longest toe and the front of the shoe.

Do not buy a pair of shoes with the intent of “breaking them in” or “growing into them.” This is not how shoes work, and improperly fitting shoes will often lead to major discomfort and even injury in some cases.

Consider Two Pairs

Why might you want to consider two pairs of shoes? To have something to swap between daily.

Sweat can build up in shoes, which can then become a feasting ground for bacteria that create foul odors. This tends to be a particular concern in teens and young adults whose hormones are currently turning on the sweatworks.

Providing a pair of shoes at least 24 hours to dry out can go a good way toward keeping odor at bay. If your children’s feet are growing very quickly, two pairs of shoes at once might not seem a reasonable investment. But if things are going slower, two pairs may be a good idea.

(For you, though; your feet have mostly finished growing. Go for the two pairs.)

The Right Shoes for the Job

Not all shoes needs are the same. If you are looking for shoes for a specific activity, such as running or football, they will have different requirements than general “getting around” shoes.

Whatever special factors might be present with you or your goals, we are more than happy to help you make the best shoe choices for your family. Call Freeland Foot & Ankle Clinic at (989) 695-6788 to schedule an appointment with us, or use our online contact form to reach out electronically.

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