Tips to keep kids' feet healthy through warm weather adventures
With the myriad of activities children take part in during warm weather months, they need to get the most mileage possible out of their little feet.
Keeping kids moving is a good thing; encouraging children to exercise is a key component in the battle against childhood obesity. Kids may slow down if their feet hurt, so it’s important for parents to be aware of their child’s foot health.
"Just as untreated foot problems can hinder an adult’s life, they can have serious long-term repercussions for children," says Dr. Michael King, president of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). "No matter the cause or severity of the problem, the health of a child’s feet should not be taken for granted."
Even the most caring parent can underestimate a child’s foot problems. In fact, 35 percent of parents with children younger than 18 said they would not be motivated to take their child to a doctor for treatment of foot or leg pain, according to an APMA study. And only 25 percent said they would take their child to a podiatrist – a doctor who specializes in treating the feet and ankles.
With warm weather activities comes extra wear and tear on children’s feet and on the flip-flops, sandals and sneakers kids like to wear. As you watch kids sprint through their warm weather fun, keep this advice from APMA in mind:
Right shoe, right size
Children’s feet grow, often very quickly. Shoe and sock sizes may change every few months, and shoes that don’t fit properly can irritate the feet. Always measure your children’s feet before buying them shoes, and watch for signs that the shoes are irritating their feet. These signs include red spots, blisters and general complaints of foot pain.
Always take your children shoe shopping, because every shoe fits differently. Plus, allowing them a say in the shoe-buying process can help promote healthy foot habits down the road. Always buy for the larger foot, since feet are seldom the same size. Have your children try on shoes with whatever socks or tights they’ll most often be wearing with them. Never buy shoes that need a "break-in" period. Shoes should be comfortable immediately.
Never hand down footwear. Just because a shoe size fits one child comfortably, doesn’t mean it will fit another child as well. Finally, be sure to look for shoes that provide adequate support for a child’s very active feet. The shoe’s heel cup should be stiff. The sole of the shoe should bend with the child’s toe but be rigid in the middle. APMA recognizes shoes and products that are good for feet with the APMA Seal of Acceptance. You can learn more about these products at www.apma.org.
Foot pain is not normal, both in children and adults. Today’s podiatrist – the foot and ankle specialist – can help parents relieve children’s foot problems and help keep them healthy and active. Additionally, many podiatrists specialize in pediatric foot problems.To find a podiatrist near you, visit www.todayspodiatrist.com.