As thousands of Australian children sign up for summer sports programs, podiatrists warn many of them could be wearing shoes which permanently damage their feet.
Children spend on average 1000 hours a year in school shoes – and footwear required for popular sports such as cricket, netball, basketball and soccer also add additional pressure on growing feet.
However, research by Australia’s largest podiatry group, My FootDr and Balance Podiatry, has revealed a staggering 61 per cent of children haven’t had their feet professionally measured or fitted within the last 12 months meaning many aren’t getting the support they need.
Balance Podiatry CEO Darren Stewart said inappropriate shoes could impact the long-term development of feet.
“Children’s feet and legs develop rapidly, and it can be difficult for parents to know what is and isn’t normal. Yet how they develop impacts on the child’s ability to live happy, healthy and active lives,” he says.
“Whether you’re buying $10 shoes or $100 shoes, footwear should offer the right support and enough growing room for feet to develop naturally. Inappropriate, poorly-fitted shoes can cause problems with pain, balance and posture.”
Mr Stewart encouraged parents to adopt a preventative and wellness approach to children’s foot health, much like they do with dental health.
“Parents need to better understand how to properly care for their child’s feet, including who to turn to for professional advice. Podiatrists can treat and prevent these conditions to avoid lifestyle-limiting issues later in life.”
The research revealed growing pains (26%), Severs Disease (22%) and flat feet (17%) to be among the most common conditions children experienced.
“Children should visit a Podiatrist before they start school and undergo a check-up at least annually, or more frequently if they experience foot pain or other symptoms, or if they are involved in multiple sports,” Mr Stewart says.
“We take a detailed history, perform a physical assessment, use video walking analysis and 3D foot scans to discover any issues and develop a treatment and management program.”
“Prescription custom-made foot orthotics (shoe inserts), are a common treatment prescribed for children to support and align the natural shape of the foot and ankle, and improve overall posture and foot function.”
Balance Podiatry’s 5 Big Tips for Healthy Little Feet
Screen your child early for immediate detection of common problems
Stomp out problems immediately if pain or symptoms persist
Choose the right footwear for active, growing feet
Wear custom shoe orthotics prescribed by a Podiatrist
Commit to an annual check-up