You hear it all the time from some professional shoe retailers and health professionals, particularly during the January back to school period.
“We should protect our children’s feet with supportive shoes”
“They need a stiff shoe that doesn’t bend in the middle” “a firm heel counter” “heel support” etc.
These shoes end up being stiff and cumbersome – not to mention expensive. Does this shoe look familiar?
See how high the heel is compared to the forefoot? This can cause issues.
I’m a 32 year old Sports Podiatrist and runner. I went through school in a shoe like this and I wish I didn’t. It wasn’t my parents fault, they followed the “professional advice”.
I ran a lot on the track at school with no injuries – I was lucky, but it finally caught up with me in my early 20s when I developed Achilles trouble. I spent time retraining my feet and calves to be strong and am running well, but it could have been much easier.
If we maintain this raised heel position for long periods it shortens the Calf and Achilles – similar to wearing high heels to work full time. This can weaken the posterior chain and increases the risk of some injuries like Severs disease later on. (If your child has Severs’ then it is a different approach and discussion – blog on that coming soon). The child’s foot is different to the adults. It has much more cartilage and not all the bones are present until the ages of 12-14.
If they have been in a stiff heavy shoe for several years they may need too progress off them slowly, perhaps with some strength work and guidance. If they have any pain or you are concerned with the way they walk – get some advice. If they are young and just starting to wear shoes – less is more!
If your kids are pain free don’t over protect. Let the foot develop naturally from a young age in flatter shoes and let them be strong on their own. Check out the picture of Fletch and I holding a very flexible shoe!
Phillip de Mestre
Sports Podiatrist – Running Science https://runningscience.com.au/podiatry-clinic/