By Hannah Schenker
You wouldn’t put your kids in high heels – but what about sneakers or sandals? Most of us wouldn’t think twice about putting our little ones in some super cute trainers – but are they actually good for their feet? Podiatrists say no!
Wearing restrictive shoes at too young an age can actually damage a child’s foot development, hampering their ability to walk and even their cerebral development, as podiatrist Tracy Byrne told The Guardian:
“Toddlers keep their heads up more when they are walking barefoot,” she says. “The feedback they get from the ground means there is less need to look down, which is what puts them off balance and causes them to fall down.”
She says walking barefoot actually increases the strength of the arch of the foot and also improves proprioception (awareness of where we are in relation to space around us) and helps you to develop good posture.
Our feet are made up of a complicated system of 28 bones, interlaced with ligaments, blood vessels, nerves and muscles. However, children’s feet are not quite there yet, instead they are soft and pliable because the cartilage has not yet ossified into bone, usually by about 5 years of age. Whatever happens to them in these early years will set them up for life, and abnormal pressure can easily cause ongoing issues later on in life (source).
As humans, it’s really only a relatively short time since we began spending all our waking hours wearing shoes on our precious feet. We now regard this as normal and natural, but from a podiatry point of view, it’s not. When you think about putting shoes on your children – what you choose to do at this stage will have far-reaching consequences for them throughout their lives.
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