Children are growing, and active children are often prone to growth-related injuries. Many of these can be prevented by having your child in the right type of shoe for their foot type and activity. So here’s a bit of information about different types of shoes!
Children spend much of their time in their school shoes, so they are just as important as sports shoes. If they are able to wear a sports shoe for school, then that is probably the best option for them – see below regarding runners and cross-trainers. If they are required to wear a black lace-up shoe, they need to have :
- Firm heel counter – area around the back of the heel needs to be stiff for support
- Laces are preferable to a buckle or slip on
- They should just flex slightly across the toes, shouldn’t be able to bend in half
Depending on the type of activities they are participating in, children can wear either runners (designed for forward motion) or cross-trainers (designed for sports that involve change of direction). Most running and cross-training shoes have a ‘heel gradient’, which means that the heel of the shoe is higher than the toe of the shoe. The benefit of this gradient is to reduce the load through the calf, ankle and other structures in the foot. It is particularly important for children, as they are prone to pain in their heels if they wear a shoe that is too flat. If your child’s foot is pronated (heel rolling inwards and low arch) then they need a supportive shoe. These have a firmer material under the arch. If they have a normal or higher arched foot, then neutral/cushioned shoes are more appropriate.
Most traditional soccer boots are made without a heel gradient (flat from heel-toe). This can unfortunately increase the risk of injuries in junior players. Boots can be for firm ground or soft ground, however children should only wear firm ground boots, as they distribute pressure more evenly across the foot. There are boots available that do have a 10mm heel-toe gradient, which I recommend for children. These can either be a ‘grasscat’-style boot (more like a runner with lots of studs underneath), or a traditional style boot with a 10mm heel-toe gradient.
Please note this is a guide only. If you need specific advice regarding footwear for children please contact Podiatrist Nicki Quigley at Bayside Sports Podiatry, 13 South Concourse, Beaumaris – 9589 3777