Back To School Shoe Fitting Tips

School is starting! Now is a great time to check your kid’s shoes and make sure they are fitting properly. Most kids go through several shoe sizes each year, so if they have been wearing sandals all summer, do not be surprised if they must go up a size or two compared to last year.

It is very common to have one-foot longer or wider than the other so make sure you try on both shoes. Also, make sure they are wearing the style sock they wear most of the time. The shoes should be easy to get on. Once they are on, have your child stand up. There should be 1-2 centimeters between the end of the shoe and the end of their longest toe. Many people have a second toe that is longer than the big toe, so if that is the case for your child, use that toe to measure off. Many people press their thumb into the end of the shoe from the top with their thumb perpendicular to the toes to make sure there is a thumbs width between the toes and the end of the shoe. I prefer to press my thumb in from the end of the shoe towards the toes with my thumb pointing towards the toes. The length of my thumbnail is about the same as the width of my thumb and I can feel the ends of the toes better this way. Either method works so try both and see which you prefer. If the shoe has a hard toebox and you can’t feel their toes, you can have them slide their foot all the way to the end of the shoe and then see how much room is around the heel.

In addition to the length of the shoe, make sure the shoes are wide enough, especially across the ball of the foot and the toes. Shoes that are too narrow can press the toes together causing pain and may contribute to the formation of bunions. Make sure your child can wiggle their toes freely in their shoes. If they cannot and the length of the shoe is correct, they likely need a wider width.

It is also important to consider the depth of the shoe. Some people have a high instep. In kids, their foot will look thick across the middle and in front of the arch. In these kids, you need to find a deep shoe. Using a wide shoe will sometimes accommodate this foot type as well.

If your child complains that his shoes are too big or too tight, check both the length and width. I have seen many people go up several sizes in length to accommodate a wide foot. They have a more comfortable and better fitting shoe if they go up in width rather than length. Shoes that are too long can cause tripping and lesions such as blisters and calluses because their foot is moving around in the shoe. On the other hand, people with narrow feet sometimes go down in size rather than getting a narrower shoe. This crowds the toes and can lead to toe pain and deformity as well as blisters and calluses.

Shoe stores have Brannock devices to measure feet and help figure out the correct shoe size. These can also be purchased online. This is helpful if you want to try purchasing shoes online. If you can, order a couple sizes and styles to try on so you make sure you get the best fit. You can also stop by Range Foot & Ankle and a staff member will be happy to measure your feet for you; please call ahead so we can limit wait time.

Each shoe brand fits a little differently. Different styles within the same brand can also fit differently. For this reason, you will find you wear a different size in different brands. So, don’t get a size stuck in your head and convince yourself you need to wear that size in every shoe style in every brand. No one can see your shoe size so simply wear what is comfortable.

Once you have correctly fitting shoes, you need to take care of them so they continue to fit well. I try to teach my kids to untie their shoes when they take them off. Slipping your foot in and out of your shoes with them laced, will stretch out the shoe and can lead to premature wearing of the lining around the back of the heel. It can also damage the heel tab. I’ll admit I sometimes slip my shoes off untied, so I need this reminder too!

Over time the lining and insole in your shoes can start to smell. Putting charcoal odor-absorbing packets in them at night can help. There are sprays designed to not only get rid of odors, but also prevent them from coming back. I like a product called Clean Sweep for this because it kills bacteria, fungus and mold. It is reactivated by sweat so it provides an antimicrobial effect for 4-6 months. If the outside of the shoe is dirty, how you clean them depends on the type of shoe. I have found a wet melamine sponge works well for removing stains from the midsole.

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Virginia, MN 55792
- (218) 749-3818


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Ely, MN 55731
- (218) 365-8793

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