Back-to-School Shoe Shopping Tips

Little girl putting her shoes on by herself

Parents: Avoid Kids’ Foot Problems with the Right Shoes

The start of a new school year brings about two certainties: new clothes and new shoes. Parents have more to consider than color and style when shopping for back-to-school shoes. Shelly Sedberry, DPM, AACFAS, a member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, recommends some simple guidelines to help avoid foot problems such as painful ingrown toenails, blisters, heel pain and flat feet.

Shoes Should Fit

Your child’s feet can grow up to two sizes in six months, so you need to account for growth when buying shoes. That does not mean you should buy shoes that are too big. Oversized shoes cause the foot to slide forward, putting excessive pressure on the toes. Dr. Sedberry suggests a good fit is about a finger’s width from the end of the shoe to the tip of the big toe.

Tight shoes can cause corns and calluses on your child’s toes, blisters on the back of the heels, and ingrown nails, which can become infected. Signs of infection from ingrown nails include pain, redness, or fluid draining from the area. If you notice any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with Dr. Sedberry, who can perform a simple in-office procedure to remove the nail.

Shoes Wear Out

Shoes lose their shock absorption over time, so inspect new and old shoes for proper cushioning and arch support. Dr. Sedberry cautions, worn-out shoes elevate the risk for heel pain, Achilles tendonitis, and even ankle sprains and stress fractures. Replace any shoes with wear and tear around the edges of the sole. When buying shoes, check to see that the toe box flexes easily and the shoe does not bend in the middle of the sole.

Children with Flat Feet

Children with flat feet need shoes with a wide toe box, maximum arch support, and shock absorption. The best shoes to buy are lace-up shoes that have enough depth for an orthotic insert, if necessary.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Sedberry, call (417) 622-0648. Shoal Creek Foot & Ankle Center is located at 1801 West 32nd Street, Building C, Suite 102 in Joplin, MO. Office hours are Monday through Friday, from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. For additional information, visit For additional information on childhood foot care, visit

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