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CHILDRENS FOOTWEAR/FOOTWEAR HEALTH


organisation since 1959 www.shoefitters-uk.org. With the help of Laura, we are now able to provide you with the facts:


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The Facts About Fitting Children’s Shoes: • Every pair of feet are as individual as fingerprints. They do not come in a standard shape and size.


• There is no standardisation of shoe sizing. A gauge is merely a starting point, a guide, to a qualified fitter. A measure may give a size and fitting reading that is suitable for one shoe, but not suitable in a different style. Materials, shoe construction, design, even country of origin, all have a bearing on finding the right shoe to fit a foot. To merely assume someone is a size 4 (or 37) in one shoe and expect other shoes to fit the same is completely incorrect and foolish. The same size and fitting in one brand of shoe may be totally irrelevant from one style to another.


• Just because a shoe feels comfortable does not necessarily mean it fits! A trainer will always feel comfortable due to the padding but are not designed or manufactured to be worn all day every day. They are primarily for exercise. Other soft items of footwear i.e. replica cheap Ugg-style boots, ‘rubber clog’ type footwear, plimsolls, ballet slip-ons, may all feel fine, but allow the foot to become flaccid, or indeed restrict the toes and natural movement of the foot, therefore both the footwear and feet inside them, change shape due to their lack of construction materials.


• The bones in the foot do not ossify (completely form and harden) until around the age of 18, therefore damage can be done in the formative years that may not present itself until much later life. Damage done in the very early years may well present itself in teenage.


• A small child will not necessarily be honest about the comfort of shoes if they like them! An even smaller child will not be able to inform the parent about their discomfort as the nerve-endings in their feet (and indeed their communication skills), will not be mature enough.


• Ill fitting footwear can and does affect your entire physiology. If your feet hurt you walk differently and not naturally. This in turn throws out other parts of your body as you walk, putting unnatural pressure on joints and tendons. This creates wear in other parts of the body, leading to pain and numerous other health issues. Your legs, hips, back and neck can all be adversely affected by unnatural gait.


hy is it so important to get my children’s feet measured? Surely, if they try a shoe on and it’s comfy, that’ll do?” Editor, Cheryl Taylor, asks expert Laura West, Secretary of The Society of Shoe Fitters, a ‘not-for-profit’


There are now more than 11,000 Chiropodists/Podiatrists in the UK


and they are seeing a larger number of younger patients than ever before – why? For various reasons some of which are as follows:


a. There is no ‘legal obligation’ for anyone selling footwear to know anything about feet, physiology or the construction of shoes, (but there is a ‘moral obligation’ which most ignore!). Ignorance is not bliss – it is blisters!


b. No government has appreciated that footwear has a massive impact on our well-being, which of course will inevitably cost the tax-payer and NHS in the long term. G.P. and hospital waiting lists are full of people with aches and pains that could be attributed to the way their gait has developed due to the shoes they have worn in their earlier years. Even hairdressers are regulated and their services usually do not carry any lasting damage.


c. Customers think they pay more for a fitting service or for shoes in fittings. Not the case at all. Fashion footwear is always much more expensive and people are not concerned about their fit or cost, simply the aesthetics and kudos. How many pairs of shoes bought online simply sit in a wardrobe because they are not comfortable or don’t look the same on the foot, but the purchaser cannot be bothered to return them – but the cost implication is ignored.


d. The Internet and supermarkets are now selling footwear in larger numbers and although some sites and businesses offer a guide to fitting, there is no substitute for a professional fitter or even basic retail staff, looking at the feet and assessing if there is a low ankle bone, pronation, supination, high arch, claw toes etc. They are looking at feet all day and may spot a potential problem and give best advice free of charge.


26 • FOOTWEAR TODAY


• JANUARY 2011


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