The best school shoes

Back to school time. It rolls around every year, and just like Christmas, we are not always ready for it. Whether it is your first time buying school shoes for your child, or they are about to go into their final year, it can be a footwear jungle out there.

So what’s the big deal?

Why are school shoes so important? Are they really worth the big dollars? In short; Yes. For at least 6 hours per day, 5 days per week, 200 days a year, they will house and support your growing child’s feet, through running, jumping, lunchtime sports or quiet sitting in the library. They are especially important in the primary school years, when small feet are still growing and developing, with many bones not hardening until puberty. It is at this time the feet need optimal support to prevent injuries that can be associated with reduced muscle strength and hypermobility.

So yes, school shoes are incredibly important, but what do we look for? There are a few golden rules when it comes to choosing the right school shoe.

For a more durable shoe, choose a leather upper. Not only will you have a better chance that they will see out the school year, but leather breathes preventing moisture build up.

Always choose a shoe with a small heel to reduce stress on the feet and legs. While this may sound like a strange thing to look for, try to avoid flat soled shoes and ensure a gradient between the heel of the shoe and the forefoot. Even sports shoes have a general heel height of between 8-12 mm, which is a very important feature in preventing injury.

You want your shoe to be flexible in the same areas that the foot will move. This is primarily at the ball on the foot or toes. You will want to avoid shoes that fold in half as they are not sturdy enough to support the foot, and may result in foot pain and injury.

Avoid slip on shoes. Always choose velcro fastening, laces or buckles which are all great ways of ensuring the shoe fits well to the foot.

Now you’ve chosen your shoe, which size should you buy? It is always a great idea to go shoe shopping in the afternoon, as feet swell throughout the day. Shoes should be comfortable as soon as you put them on, with no ‘wearing in’ needed. There should be between half and a full thumbs width between the longest toe and the end of the shoe, and ensure there is enough depth to avoid blisters developing on the toes.

Now that you’ve got your new shoes, how do you ensure they will last the distance?

Firstly, clean and polish them on a regular basis. This will help protect the leather and prevent damage to the upper.

Secondly, always undo your shoes to put them on/take them off. You can go one step further and use a shoe horn to protect the heel cup of the shoe.

Thirdly, always wear socks. This will protect both the shoes from perspiration and deteriorating from the inside out, and the feet from rubbing on the upper of the shoe.

Unfortunately the one thing you cannot guarantee is that your child will not grow out for their school shoes before the end of the year. However if they do, we hope you are now geared with enough information to allow you to enjoy the jungle out there, and buy the right shoe every time.