(NC) Most kids can’t wait for the weeks of long, hot, carefree days spent in flip flops at camps, cottages and parks. But while the fresh air and unstructured play can be excellent for a child’s development, foot experts say that weeks of roaming in ill-fitting, unstructured flip flops can lead to foot, ankle and knee injuries.
“Basic, flimsy flip flops don’t provide the support that children need when they are running, jumping and playing,” says Anne Putnam, a Canadian certified pedorthist and president of the Pedorthic Association of Canada. “Proper fitting, supportive shoes are essential for the healthy growth and development of children’s feet, and although shoe rules can slacken a bit in the summer, they shouldn’t be completely forgotten.”
During the summer, pedorthists recommend that children wear footwear that balances ease with comfort and support. As children are always on the go they like shoes they can quickly take on and off. Parents are advised to look for sandals with velcro straps as they are quick and easy to get into and secure the foot snuggly in the shoe as effectively as laces.
For daily play, a pair of lightweight, supportive sandals with a flex-point at the ball of the foot is essential. Most importantly the sandals should fit perfectly, as shoes that are too big or too small increase the risk of injury. Children can wear unsupportive flip flops at the beach and by the pool, but flip flops are not appropriate for active play or walking any distance.
More information on appropriate footwear for children can be found at www.pedorthic.ca.
Here are some tips from Canadian certified pedorthists to help you find appropriate summer footwear for your child:
• Look for shoes that have sturdy backs and soles that don’t bend easily if you twist them from side to side or from toe to heel. Shoes that don’t bend or twist will provide the support your child needs.
• Make sure the base of the footwear matches the length and shape of your child’s feet. If his or her feet are too wide or his or her heel or toes hang over the edge, they are not right.
• Don’t buy shoes with “room to grow”. Shoes that are too long or too wide may cause or aggravate underlying foot problems.
• Never pass shoes down from child to child as the wear patterns created by the first child will not properly support the next child’s unique foot shape and needs.
• If your child insists on flip flops for everyday wear, look for features that provide more support, such as supportive footbeds, adjustable straps, thicker soles and deep heel cups.