Jumping Into Summer Feet FirstApr 25, 2023 ● By LifeScape
After a long, snowy winter, is there anything better than slipping into some sandals or flip-flops when enjoying more comfortable temperatures outside? Letting those feet breathe after months in boots is one of the things we come to appreciate living in the Midwest.
When swapping out those winter shoes for spring and summer, keep in mind healthy development starts with choosing the correct footwear. Our feet are the foundation on which our bodies stand.
Components of a supportive shoe are fairly simple. For preschool age and older, sandals should include a strap that goes behind the heel and toes should be covered. This helps to prevent tripping and protects the toes from injury. Shoes should be flexible in the same places the child’s foot is flexible. This allows for necessary movement. Tennis shoes are best for active play, like running or jumping
Flat feet are normal for young children, early on in life. While research varies on the topic, generally arches in the feet should develop between the ages of 5-9. Building strength in the intrinsic muscles of the foot can help encourage proper development of the arch. Try helping your child with barefoot activities like:
· Balancing on one foot
· Using toes to pick up marbles or other small toys
· Walking along soft surfaces like pillows or folded towels and blankets
· Rising up onto toes to reach overhead
Sometimes, even with the best shoes and practices, children still have problems with their feet. It could be flat feet, toe walking, or pigeon toes. That’s when an experienced orthotist can help. Take a moment to look at your child’s feet, even if they are well past the age of 9. Poor alignment at our feet and ankles can impact other joints and body parts up the chain, like knees, hips and back. Complaints of joint pain, muscle exhaustion or weakness, improper walking patterns, toe-walking or poor foot development are all reasons to seek an evaluation with a certified orthotist. Inserts can be custom made to a child to support the arch and maintain neutral alignment, from heel to toe. Adding custom inserts will actually encourage appropriate arch development and muscle strengthening.