On the French-Canadian TV show Aubaines et Cie, Blaise Dubois explains four characteristics to consider when choosing children’s footwear: comfort, flexibility, lightness, and height. Sorry, this video is only available in French. Content in English is coming soon!
More than 20 years ago (1991), the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dedicated to the health of all children, issued a list of recommendations regarding shoes for children. The Running Clinic fully agrees with these guidelines. Number 7 is particularly interesting, as non-evidence-based marketing schemes regarding children’s shoes continue to grow. Shoes for Children: A Review (Lynn T. Staheli : From the Department of Orthopedics, Children's Hospital and Medical Center, Seattle; and Department of Orthopaedics, University of Washington, Seattle)
To summarize the main points:
- Optimum foot development occurs in the barefoot environment.
- The primary role of shoes is to protect the foot from injury and infection.
- Stiff and compressive footwear may cause deformity, weakness, and loss of mobility.
- The term "corrective shoes" is a misnomer.
- Shock absorption, load distribution, and elevation are valid indications for shoe modifications.
- Shoe selection for children should be based on the barefoot model.
- Physicians should avoid and discourage the commercialization and "media"-ization of footwear. Merchandizing of the "corrective shoe" is harmful to the child, expensive for the family, and a discredit to the medical profession.
The CPMA (Canadian Podiatric Medical Association - foot health specialist) issued similar recommendations:
- Shoes are not necessary indoors when your child first begins to walk. Allow your child to go barefoot or wear just socks when indoors. This helps the foot grow normally and develop its musculature and strength, as well as the grasping action of toes. When walking outside or on rough surfaces, your child's feet should be protected in lightweight, flexible footwear made of natural materials.