Alarm sounded on kid shoes: study

An estimated 15-50 per cent of Australian children are wearing the wrong-sized shoes. Picture Credit: Nicholas Githiri.

Ill-fitting shoes can have severe adverse physical effects on children aged between 8 and 12, a new study by the University of South Australia finds.

Co-author of the research and podiatry expert at UniSA Dr Helen Banwell says that between 15 – 50 per cent of children in Australia are wearing the wrong-sized shoes.

Not only does wearing restrictive footwear cause severe discomfort and pain, but it also impedes the movement of the heel, arch and big toe while walking, the study concludes.

“The big toe joint, for instance, is the joint that you propel yourself forward on and keep your momentum up,” Dr Ganwell said.

“What we found is that shoes that are way too small reduce the amount of motion that was available at that joint by about 30 per cent,” Dr Banwell said.

University of Western Australia podiatrist Dr Deborah Schoen said that problems in the foot can eventually work their way up to other parts of the body, including the knees and hips.

“If their foot can’t roll over and push off like they should do, their knees are going to bend more and they`ll have to use more energy to support themselves while walking or standing,” Dr Schoen said.

“Since children aged between 8-12 are undergoing vital stages of bone development, it’s important to select shoes that provide enough room to cater for this growth.”

Consequently, podiatry experts encourage parents to educate themselves on what to look out for when searching for the perfect shoes for their children.

Dr Banwell highly recommends the “rule of thumb” method, whereby the distance between the longest toe and end of the shoe should be equivalent to the thumb width of the person wearing them.

“Leather material is also best because it has a natural ability to stretch and take on the changes in the foot size unlike synthetic and artificial fibers,” Dr Banwell said.