When buying children’s shoes, just like buying a car or a new computer, there are good, better, and best options. However, unlike other products, the price may not be a good indicator of the best option for what shoes are best for a child. We will evaluate each of the shoe options for growing feet. Each of the options builds on the previous one. A better shoe has all the features of a good shoe and more and the best shoe has all the features of a good and better shoe.
The Good - Flat, Zero Drop Shoes
The first thing to look for is NOT cushioning. (See top 4 children's shoe myths) A good shoe should be completely flat or zero-drop. Most shoes have an elevated heel. We are not referring to women’s high heels but to the extra cushioning that is at the heel of the shoe. This causes a weight shift and adds pressure to the forefoot. This added pressure changes the way kids stand, walk, and run. When standing, the elevated heel leads to a tense misaligned posture. When walking and running the padded heel encourages heel striking. Want kids to move naturally? Put them in a shoe that is completely flat.
Better - Wide Toe Box Shoes
Kids’ shoes should be snug and tight? Wrong! Kids’ shoes should match the anatomy of growing feet and not the other way around. Most shoes are narrow and cause feet to try to match the shape of shoes, they smash the toes together. If kid’s feet are continually put into ill-fitting narrow shoes their feet will start to reshape to accommodate these types of shoes changing the natural anatomy of their feet. Wide toe box shoes allow the toes to wiggle and naturally move and grow healthy feet.
The Best - Flexible, Barefoot Shoes
Young feet are perfect. With flexible shoes, a child can continue natural movement of their feet. Children’s feet are meant to bend, move, flex, and not be stuck in a stiff shoe. Nearly a quarter of the body’s joints and bones are in our feet. They don’t need stiff shoes with arch support. Stiff shoes also weaken the feet because they hold the feet lessening its movement. The longer children wear stiff shoes the weaker their feet become and become prone to problems like flat feet.
The thin soles are better because they toughen up kids’ feet for natural protection. Barefoot shoes connect kids’ feet with the ground. Making them alert and allow them to have a heightened sense of their surroundings. Feeling the ground sends continuous feedback from the foot to their growing brains.
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