January 26, 2010

Wrong size? – Side effects associated with improper fitting shoes

About 98% of babies are born with perfect feet and only about 50% of them have healthy feet as adults. Why is that? The growth of child's feet is influenced by many factors. Besides genetic and hormonal factors, weight and shoes play a big role.

Austrian researchers (team of podiatrists and orthopedists) conducted a study on the subject: "Children's Feet-Children's Shoes". They evaluated the fit of the outdoor shoes, house shoes and slippers and the health of the children feet. The results were shocking:

  • 69% of the children were wearing outdoor shoes that were too short in length, 88% had house shoes or slippers that were too small (one child was wearing shoes 5 sizes too small!).
  • Only 3% of the children shoes had the correct inner length. For example: in shoes marked size 30, the inner length was just 29, 28, 27, sometimes even only size 26.
  • For the first time it could be proven that poorly fitting shoes actually cause damage to children feet
    The Austrian Research Project on "Children's Feet-Children's Shoes" proved for the first time that shoes which are too short can have negative effects on children's feet.
    • Wearing shoes which are too short and tight distorts the natural position of the toes which results in painful joints and changes in the position of the toe joints.
    • When the toes are cramped in the shoes, it changes the natural direction of the toe muscles which results in muscle and tendon pain, inflammation and shortening of the foot muscles.
    • Shoes which are too short force the foot into an unnatural position, which can cause blood circulation problems and result in sensations of cold and numbness, vein problems (e.g. varicose veins).
    • A change in posture caused by foot injuries can result in knee, hip and back problems. Even the heart and circulatory system can be indirectly affected. Many athletic activities require healthy feet (for example jogging). Unhealthy feet can therefore lead to a reduction in physical activity, which is known to be the root of a number of disease-causing factors (lack of fitness, high blood pressure, etc.).
    The shorter the shoe, the higher the risk of developing the hallux angle (malformation of the big toe, commonly known as a bunion) is a very common and  painful condition that might require surgery.
    Children might not know that their shoes are too small. Little feet are less likely to feel pain and are more adaptable to the constricted environment. However, as they continue to develop and grow, consequences are unimaginable!

    Doctors' advice: "Children shall have Freedom without Shoes and Freedom in the Shoes!" That means that we, as parents, should pay close attention to the proper fit of our kids' shoes and also give our kids a break from the shoes.

    Follow our next post on how to properly measure child's foot.

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