There’s a growing belief among experts that when it comes to children’s footwear, the best shoe may be no shoe at all. Studies have shown that there are more likely to be disadvantages and problems from wearing shoes from an early age, than not wearing them. Such as; deformation caused by a poor fit, ingrown toenails and athlete’s foot.
So why is this?
Research published in podiatry journal The Foot in 2007 suggests that structural and functional changes can result from the foot having to conform to the shape and constriction of a shoe, rather than being allowed to develop naturally. And the younger the foot, the greater the potential for damage.
Too many parents nowadays treat their children as fashion accessories and choose shoes on their attractiveness or coolness, rather than their ergonomics. You will see many children walking around in a pair of cool Converse trainers or cute Havaiana flip flops, mirroring what their parents are wearing.
We must remember however, that when choosing shoes for our little ones, the human foot at birth is not a miniature version of an adult foot. In fact, it contains no bones at all and consists of a mass of cartilage, which, over a period of years, ossifies to become the 28 bones that exist in the adult human foot. This process is not complete until the late teens, so it is crucial that footwear – when worn – is well chosen.
There is a lot more research readily available around the trend and benefits of barefoot shoes, and the associated questioning of the need for highly cushioned, supportive shoes for children. Some parents may now be thinking a little more about their children’s footwear – or indeed, whether they should encourage them to go barefoot.
While this sounds like a great idea, you have to be realistic and consider the environment the child is in.
Do you want your child walking on the streets or in the park barefoot, where there might be dog mess, dirt and possible hazards like glass?
Of course not, which is why ‘barefoot shoes’ like Vivo Barefoot aims to offer an alternative. Children get the health benefits of going barefoot but with the protection of wearing a shoe.
The company, originally launched under the name Froggies, found that replacing seven- to 12-year-old children’s ‘normal’ school shoes for Froggies over a two-month period resulted in increased foot strength, balance, mobility and ankle function – the same benefits normally attributed to walking in bare feet.
Minimalist shoes reinforce the healthy running technique kids were born with: namely, striking the ground with the fore foot, not the heel. If you watch a toddler running and you’ll see they do this naturally. It’s only when we start wearing thick-soled, heavier shoes that we re-program ourselves to run differently; heel striking has been linked to knee, hip, and lower back pain.
Feedback from children who have worn barefoot shoes, has been extremely positive. Suggesting the lighter and more comfortable option is in favour, over the standard black structured lace-up school shoe we have all been bought up wearing.
For more advice on gait analysis, barefoot for kids and adults book your appointment at Kinesis Clinic today for a professional assessment.