Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Steps to giving your childs' feet the best start

My darling L is a little crawler and investigator now most of all she likes the broom and brush corner, TV unit and pulling herself whilst holding on my laptop or medium size boxes. I'm not sure she is ready to walk yet but when she does I would love to buy her very own well fitted first walking shoes. I am convinced it is a very important factor as a flat foot owner (confirmed by a podiatrist) I was told that due to wearing incorrectly fitted shoes and generally not carrying much about my feet in the future I most likely will have severe problems with my knees. Knowing that I want to make sure that L doesn't follow my route.

I have started looking at different brands and websites but as I don't know what I'm looking for I decided to wait until L needs her feet measured. But luckily I came across Start- rite shoes Healthy Little Feet.

Healthy little feet website is an information hub’ that’s dedicated to providing parents with information and advice on well fitting footwear to help keep children’s feet happy and healthy for life.

It’s essential that children wear the right shoes as their feet develop and they become more mobile to avoid future foot problems caused by wearing poorly fitting footwear.

Leading Biomechanics Coach and Chartered Physiotherapist, Martin Haines has teamed up with Start-rite Shoes and Healthy Little Feet to raise awareness of how poorly fitted footwear can affect children’s overall development and impact on their adult health. In the video below Martin gives his expert advice on the importance of movement to child development, precious first steps and the milestones to look out for to ensure your children have a healthy happy future.


Foot problems can occur for two key reasons: 

1. Inactive children are more likely to have weak muscles in their feet, less coordination and poorer balance. This can lead to alteration of the foot shape, flatter feet and consequently the risk is higher for injuries when they get older.

2. Ill-fitting shoes or shoes that do not suit a child’s feet. Ill-fitting shoes can cause a child’s foot to become misshapen, altering how it can function mechanically.

A common foot problem that can be caused by incorrect shoes is over pronation (flat footed). If the heels on the shoes are too high for the foot type, it can cause (among other things) the calf muscles to become stiff. This can then cause the foot to flatten too much (or pronate). This means that the whole foot and the shinbone actually turn inwards too far, which puts more pressure on the leg. Specifically this can cause shin splints, knee ligament injuries, Iliotibial band syndrome and hip muscle injuries.

A stiff big toe joint is a common cause of sports injury and using rigid shoes when younger, which prevent the big toe joint from moving freely can cause it to become stiff over time. This means unaccustomed pressure going through the knee and hips, which over time and continued use, can cause injury. Typically this can cause Achilles tendinitis, Patella tendinitis, hamstring injury, hip and low back pain.

Three easy steps to giving your child’s feet the best start:
1. Encourage your child to take mini adventures and spend time active playing to develop their natural movement instincts.

The body’s physical development is based around movement. Movement strengthens muscles, it both loosens and stabilizes joints, and it enables coordination of sometimes quite complex physical tasks. Movement also helps with balance. Balance is helped by a number of systems, one of which is a system of strain gauges within every joint, ligament and muscle. These strain gauges are known as Proprioceptors, which are little cells that when stimulated by movement, tell the brain about the position of the joint and pressure going through it. This system is critical for correct physical development, including strength and flexibility and the ability to run and move in a balanced and coordinated manner.

2. Always purchase the correct width size. 
There is a wide variety of foot widths between boys and girls and of different age groups. Any shoe wishing to provide the correct fit for each of these many variables, must provide different width fittings.

3. Look for flexible soles for young feet. 
A young child’s foot is flexible. This is because the muscles have not yet developed and their ligaments have not yet stabilized, and so their walking pattern is such that their weak and unstable foot is not overloaded. A shoe’s flexibility will allow the child’s foot to develop strength and balance without interference. A shoe is therefore needed to adapt to the child’s foot and so needs to be flexible. Even when the child gets older and starts to walk, while the rear part of the shoe may need to be slightly harder, the front of the shoe where the toes bend still needs to be flexible to encourage a normal walking pattern.

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