School Footwear Considerations

 In Prolonging Health

Footwear considerations for back to school 2018

Yep it is that time of year again! Christmas and New Years is a distant memory and the stress of getting your children ready for the school year is well upon you.

I tell my parents of patients they are the most important pair of shoes that their children will own #performbetter @pogophysio Click To Tweet

Footwear is obviously an important component for a school uniform and as I tell my parents of patients they are the most important pair of shoes that their children will own because they are in them 5 days per week for up to 10 hours per day! Getting the right type, visiting the right store and spending the money from the start can not only help prevent common foot and lower leg injuries but also get you longer into the school year with out having to buy another pair…..maybe!

Below are 5 key areas to consider when buying dress school shoes include:

Stiff, cushioned mid-sole

Most schools are concrete jungles and a lot of children play handball, tiggy etc within this environment every break time. Choosing a shoe that has a cushioned foam mid-sole layer as opposed to a harder rubber will protect them from the hard surfaces. A stiff sole will provide torsional support especially when your child runs in the shoes as well as provide the longevity every parent hopes for. Remember the shoe should only bend where the toes bend and should be stiff on twisting the shoe. A firm, yet padded heel counter (back of shoe) is also a bonus and good school shoe brands have these.

The thumb width rule for length

Finding that balance of enough length that the child doesn’t grow out of the shoes in a couple of months but not too big that your child’s feet float around in the shoe can be a tough one. The thumb width rule between the longest toe and end of the shoe is a good one that will allow enough room for growth as well as ensure in most cases the shoe is not too “floaty” in the toe box and heel cup areas. Making sure your child’s foot is right back into the heel of the shoe ask them to wiggle their toes and feel for the position. Each adult’s thumb width is slightly different so if you think are on either side the size spectrum double check with another (shoe store person’s) thumb width.

The pinch test for width

The good school shoe companies have multiple of widths available to ensure the right fit. Out of any type of shoe, school shoes are the most versatile in this area. The pinch test is done at the widest parts of the feet at the “knuckle” of the big toe and little toe joints. Basically if you can pinch the leather of the shoe in these areas then the shoe is most likely too big. On the other end of scale if you can see the “knuckles” bulging out the sides then the shoe is most likely far too small. Another clue to the correct width fit of the shoe is observing the opposing lace holes and if they are even then the shoe should be the correct width.

The heel lift test for correct heel fit

With your child standing and facing you cup either side of the shoes with your hands. Ask your child to try and lift their heel and observe if there is movement. Their should only be a slight, slight shift and they should feel snug and secure. Also asking your child to walk up and down to see if there is any slipping of the heel which they will feel if it exists. If there is slightly too much movement at the heel and the shoe store person has tried the width down without success in terms of being too narrow at the toe box, then there is a special lacing heel lock technique a good shoe store person should be able to show you.

A reputable shoe store

These stores will spend more time training their staff on how to use the measuring device (branick) properly and are well versed on lacing techniques and other footwear hacks. They will also stock the right brands for example Clarks and Ascent which come in the various different widths. Always also try and seek out the manager of the store as they are most likely the most experienced at fitting shoes. From my experience referring patients and getting feedback from them The Athlete’s Foot usually do a good job and stock a good range of sizes and widths.

Remember to breathe and take your time in ensuring your child’s feet are set up properly right from the start of the school year. As always when in doubt seek a Podiatrist’s advice on whether a school shoe has been fitted properly.


Have a Happy start to the new school year!

Aleks Baruksopulo
SportsMed Podiatrist
BSc (Biomed), BHlthSc (Pod)

Featured in the Top 50 Physical Therapy Blog

pain free performance Gold Coast physio

Recommended Posts

Leave a Comment