Get the 411 From Our Foot Experts Before Buying Kids Back to School Shoes

Tips for buying back to school shoes

Do they glow, and can they flash in the dark? Do they have wheels? Would Beyoncé wear them?

Because these are among the criteria used by kids to choose their back-to-school footwear, some adult supervision is required. It’s important to provide children with shoes they like, and feel that they look good in, but some compromises must be made to preserve the health of your children’s feet. Don’t let those cute shoes that don’t fit take control of the buying experience!

The human foot has 200,000 nerve endings, 33 major muscles, 26 bones, and 19 ligaments. It is an amazing example of bio-mechanics, and literally provides a basis for almost all our physical activity. It’s important to prioritize the health of children’s feet. Worn out or ill-fitting shoes cause heel pain, Achilles tendinitis, ingrown toenails and increase the occurrence of ankle sprains and stress fractures.

A good place to start paying attention to the health of your children’s feet is with the selection of back-to-school shoes.

Kids Need Foot-shaped Shoes

Shoes wear out, so it’s a good idea to frequently inspect your children’s footwear. Over time, shoes lose their ability to absorb shocks, so check their shoes for appropriate cushioning and arch support. The widest part of the foot should correspond to the widest part of the shoe.

Check the shoes your child is wearing now for uneven wear. If you discover it, see us. It could be an indication of significant podiatric problems.

Kid’s Feet Can Grow 3 Sizes in a Year

Ill-fitting shoes will not only increase the risk of foot and ankle injuries, they will also discourage kids from physical activity, leading to an increased risk of childhood obesity.

Children’s feet can grow up to three sizes in a year, so you need to account for growth when buying back-to-school shoes. On the other hand, it’s important to avoid buying shoes that are too large, because they cause the foot to slide forward, putting too much pressure on the toes. We recommend that the space between your child’s toes and the toe of the shoes should be about the width of one of your child’s fingers.

Secure fasteners, such as laces and Velcro, are best at holding the foot firmly in place. Slip on shoes quickly lose shape, structure, and support.

Forget the myth that says ill-fitting shoes will become comfortable in the future through some sort of “breaking in” process. If they don’t feel good in the store, you can’t trust them to be comfortable later.

Take your child shoe shopping later in the day. Just as with adults, children’s feet swell after hours of walking and running, so you need to find shoes which will accommodate those inevitable changes.

Up to 50% of children suffer from flat feet. These kids need shoes with a wide toe box, increased arch support, and maximum shock absorption. Sturdy lace up shoes that have enough depth for an orthotic insert are often prescribed to alleviate flat feet.

Be sure that both feet are measured. The feet of most people are different from each other, both in size and shape. Sometimes the differences are so pronounced that shoe selection is affected.

Three Tests for Good Shoe Structure

1. Squeeze the back of the shoe’s heel. It should firmly resist pressure. If it collapses, find another pair.

2. Fold the front of the shoe, to make sure that the shoe bends exactly where your child’s foot bends, i.e., where the toes meet the foot. The shoe should be readily flexible in this area.

3. Hold the shoe at each end and twist. The shoe should be rigid in the middle. A shoe that is flexible in this area will fail to provide proper support for your child’s foot.

Hand-Me-Down Shoes Are a Bad Idea

It’s a bad idea to hand shoes down from one child to another. Children’s feet are as different as snowflakes; they vary in many significant ways from every other child’s feet. Even if the shoes once fit an older child, they are highly unlikely to fit another sibling. Also, shoes that are handed down may spread fungi like athlete’s foot and nail fungus. In any event, every child is worthy of a new pair of shoes.

Finally, Growing Pains Are Never Insignificant

Foot pain is never normal. If your child reports it, or you detect it, see us. The physicians at University Foot and Ankle Institute have decades of combined experience diagnosing and treating children’s feet. If you would like more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (877) 475-1678 or visit us at

The UFAI Education Team

The UFAI Education Team

For almost fifteen years, University Foot and Ankle Institute and their nationally recognized physicians have been providing the most technologically advanced medical care for the foot and ankle with the highest success rates in the country.

As a teaching institution, University Foot and Ankle Institute’s Fellowship Program is among the most advanced in the nation.

We at UFAI are driven to get our patients back to their normal activities with the highest level of function, in the least amount of time, using the least invasive treatments possible. From start to finish, we are with you every step of the way.

The UFAI Education Team works to help empower our patients and website visitors with the most up-to-date information about foot and ankle conditions, treatment options, recovery and injury prevention. Our goal is to pass on truly useful information to our readers.

We hope you enjoy our work and find it of value. Please let us know!
The UFAI Education Team

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

17 + 9 =

  • CustomerSure
    Dr Bob and the staff in Sherman Oaks are amazing! They are kind, thorough and caring!
    Anita D.
  • Yelp
    I had tendon surgery about 2 years ago at Kaiser and it was the worst experience of my life...Dr. Baravarian is a breath of fresh air! Finally!  A doctor who cares and really seems to care about your recovery! His ent...
    Mz P.
  • Facebook
    Dr. Baravarian got me back running when no other Dr. could. I can't thank him enough! Everyone in the office is so nice, I highly recommend them!
    Christie D.
  • Yelp
    I had my first experience with this office earlier this week. Dr. Franson spent ample time with me, and was very attentive to my concerns and questions. I especially appreciated his relaxed, but thorough, way of deali...
    Chuck S.
  • ZocDoc
    Great appointment. Great communication. Explained my particular situation very well, blending medical terms and everyday terms. Staff was very friendly and answered all my questions.
  • CustomerSure
    I appreciated that Dr. Yau called me back quickly after I left a message and he then made time to see me that day.
    Virginia B.
  • Yelp
    Great Dr., great office, and wonderful patient attentiveness. Would definitely recommend.
    Roxana N.
  • CustomerSure
    You are one of the best doctors, and have the best staff, that I have ever seen. If I ever have a serious foot problem, I'll feel so much better knowing about you.
    Beverly S.
  • CustomerSure
    Everyone is nice & friendly, which helps a lot. Also they do great work!
    Hannah C.
  • CustomerSure
    I really appreciate the office flexibility, as I never know when my foot issue will flare up and I will need to be seen. It is unpredictable, so I am grateful that the staff works to get me in to see Dr Briskin!
    Nancy S.
Same day appointments now available!
or call 24/7:
  • University Foot & Ankle, a Preferred Provider to:
  • UCLA Health System - UCLA Medical Group
  • MPTF - Member Industry Health Network
  • Cirque du Soleil
  • ATP - Association of Tennis Professionals
  • And consulting physicians for:
  • C&S - Cedars-Sinai
  • Saint John's Health Center