Back-to-school preparations involve more than just buying stationery and new clothes. Ensuring your child's feet are in good shape is crucial for their overall well-being and a successful school year. By scheduling an annual podiatry exam, choosing the right shoes for various activities, and promoting good foot care habits, you can help your child start the school year on the right foot—pun intended!
1. Schedule an Annual Podiatry Exam
Just like a regular check-up with a pediatrician, an annual visit to a podiatrist should be a part of your child's health routine. A podiatrist is a specialized foot and ankle doctor who can diagnose and treat any potential foot issues before they become more serious problems. Regular visits can help prevent discomfort, improve foot health, and address concerns like flat feet, ingrown toenails, or gait abnormalities.
The Canyon Foot + Ankle team provides comprehensive podiatry care for the whole family, including care for all types of pediatric foot and ankle conditions. Our goal is to ensure your children's feet are happy, healthy, and in great shape for a lifetime of use!
2. Make Sure You Know Your Child's Shoe Size
Children's feet grow rapidly, and their shoe sizes may change frequently. Ill-fitting shoes can lead to discomfort, blisters, and even foot deformities. While some children may let you know that their shoes are uncomfortable, others may be so focused on their daily activities that they fail to notice they've outgrown their favorite pair of sneakers.
Before the school year starts, take the time to measure your child's feet and buy new shoes accordingly. Ensure there is enough room for their toes to move freely and that the shoes provide proper arch support.
Here's a quick run-down of how to ensure your child's shoes fit appropriately:
- Prepare a piece of paper on a flat surface.
- Have your child wear the socks they'll use with the shoes.
- Ask your child to stand on the paper with an even weight distribution.
- Trace around the foot with a pen or pencil.
- Measure the length from the heel to the longest toe and the width at the widest part of the foot.
- Repeat for the other foot and record the measurements.
- Consult the shoe sizing chart from the manufacturer or retailer for the appropriate size.
- Choose shoes that accommodate the larger foot if there's a difference.
- Regularly measure your child's feet as they grow quickly and replace shoes when needed.
3. Choose the Right Shoes for Different Activities
Different activities call for different types of shoes to support your child's feet adequately. For instance:
- Everyday school shoes. Look for shoes that are comfortable, have a sturdy sole, and offer ample support. Sneakers are often a good choice for daily wear, as they provide stability and cushioning for a variety of activities.
- Sports shoes. If your child participates in sports, investing in sport-specific footwear is essential. Soccer, basketball, running, and other sports may require specialized shoes designed to protect their feet during these activities.
- Gym shoes. On days when your child has gym class, ensure they have appropriate athletic shoes. These should be suitable for running, jumping, and other general physical activities.
4. Teach Your Child Good Foot Care Habits
Teaching your children good foot hygiene and habits can go a long way in preventing foot problems. Encourage them to keep their feet clean, dry, and moisturized. Show them how to trim their toenails properly to avoid ingrown toenails, but also advise them against cutting nails too short. Emphasize the importance of wearing clean socks to reduce the risk of plantar warts and fungal infections, especially if they're involved in sports or other activities that make their feet sweat.
5. Watch for Warning Signs
Parents should stay vigilant for any signs of foot problems in their children. These may include:
- Complaints of foot pain or discomfort. For example, heel pain in teens is often caused by Sever's disease. This is an injury to the exposed growth plate of the heel during adolescence.
- Frequent tripping or stumbling. If you notice that your child is tripping or stumbling more frequently than usual, it may be related to their foot or ankle health. Persistent tripping can be an indication of balance problems, gait abnormalities, or issues with foot alignment.
- Changes in the way your child walks or stands. Gait abnormalities such as limping, high stepping, or walking on tiptoes should be evaluated by a podiatrist.
- Unusual wear patterns on your child's shoes. Uneven or unusual wear on the soles of a child's shoes may suggest problems with foot alignment or biomechanics. For instance, excessive wear on the inner or outer edges of the soles may indicate overpronation or supination, respectively.
If you see any of these warning signs of a foot problem, consult a podiatrist at Canyon Foot + Ankle immediately. Orthotics or other treatments may be needed to ensure your child's feet stay healthy.