As promised- part two- school aged kids and adaptive footwear! If you missed the first post on shoes for babies and toddlers, check it out here.
The most important thing I can stress for kids this age is that the shoes fit! I know shoes are expensive and you can never guess when that next growth spurt will happen, but ill-fitting shoes can lead to falls and injuries! Start good habits now.
Flip flops and shoes like Crocs while easy to slip on, do not give your feet the proper shock absorption they need nor do they support the arch of the foot. Look for shoes and sandals that have a secure back. Feet fatigue quicker without a back on the shoe as the toes have to constantly grip your shoes to keep them on. In addition to overworking tiny muscles in your feet, shoes without backs typically do not have great arch support. At this age and into adulthood, it is important to have supportive shoes with good shock absorption.
Shoes with good support will help your child continue to have a strong arch, and reduce their risk of pain and dysfunction later in life, including plantar fasciitis and achilles tendonitis. All shoes should have less than a one inch heel. Check out some favorite brands below:
Keen, See Kai Run, Stride Rite, GoPlae, or Nike, Adidas, New Balance, etc with a good fit!
Does your child wear KAFOs, AFOs, SMOS, UCBLs? Sometimes finding a shoe that will fit your child’s orthotic can be tricky and the rules and recommendations are a little different. Your child will be getting good arch support from their orthotic, so a shoe’s arch support is less important. Your child likely needs a lightweight shoe in order to conserve their energy when walking. Look for shoes than come in a size ‘wide’ and remember to remove the manufacturer’s cushion insert to give your child’s orthotic a bit more room. A higher profile shoe, such as a high top, will help ensure your child’s heel stays inside the shoe while using their foot orthosis. Only wear an orthotic on one foot? Check out Nordstrom- they will sell two different sized shoes as a pair- just for this reason! Some recommendations of shoes that often fit foot orthotics include:
New Balance 574 (comes in wides and small sizes!)
GoPlae (order with extra long straps)
Converse Chuck Taylor (try with elastic shoe laces)
Converse Chuck Taylor All Stary Easy Slip High Top Sneaker (the entire heel flips down!)
Stride Rite (some styles come in wides and extra wides!)
School aged kids can make braces trickier for the simple reason they typically have an opinion about what they are wearing! They want to be “cool and fashionable.” They don’t want to stand out. If you have a child who is self conscious of their braces- talk with your therapist. They may have some ideas as to which shoes will “disguise” the braces better and can help with building self confidence skills!
Dr. Angela Kloiber is a licensed Physical Therapist (and shoe connoisseur) with Aspire Therapy