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Get Ahead Kids - Vol. 3, No. 6 - November/December 2011

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Summer Feet - What Should Our Children Be Wearing?

By Adam Glascock

With the warmer weather approaching your kids will be changing their sporting focus to summer sports.

Off with the football boots, netball and hockey shoes and on with the thongs or going bare feet as much as possible.

This is how summer should be for our kids, but as with everything there are guidelines that are wise for parents to follow.

The transition from winter to summer sport may need to be accompanied with a change in footwear style or the absence of footwear altogether.

Barefoot kids are a wonderful sight. As a matter of fact more kids need to experience the joys of being barefoot.

If pre-existing conditions or injuries persist from winter sports or they are experiencing hip, leg or foot pain, then time in and out of shoes needs to be assessed and monitored. Childhood pains and growth problems also manifest in non sporting periods.

Time at the beach or just by having a holiday with decreased time in school shoes and orthotics or other footwear can bring on heel, knee, hip and back pain associated with poor lower limb biomechanical function such as
Severs disease and Osgood Schlatters Disease.

There is a benefit in being in bare feet-to a mild degree as this will assist in using muscles that need to be strengthened in children by general play to optimise their lower limb biomechanics.

Sporting changes are a different issue - overuse injuries tend to increase as kids change sports. This appears to be mainly due to the change in activity than going without shoes.

Training for small periods for sports such as little athletics and triathlon may benefit from time out of shoes on grass surfaces. But these training periods need to be customised to the individual function of each kid's biomechanics, ability and injury history.

There is absolutely no scientific evidence, substantial or otherwise to indicate a benefit from running in bare feet as opposed to running in shoes for athletes. But there is anecdotal evidence that suggests running barefoot can result in increased injury rates.

Tips for Seasonal Changes in Sports

  • If a pre-existing injury is present check with your podiatrist how to cater for the change in sport & footwear
  • Monitor an increase in symptoms or leg & night pain
  • Schedule training so that it occurs with children of a similar age & ability levels avoid 'squeezing' kids into adult sessions
  • Ensure that the footwear is suitable for each sport & avoid using winter shoes for the summer sport where possible
  • Seek early assistance from your podiatrist if hip, knee, ankle & foot pain commences or persists from the previous season, remembering "It is never to early to assess"
  • Let them enjoy going bare feet & the sand beneath their toes as much as is practical & allow kids to enjoy the Australian summer

More Information

Adam Glascock
Principal Podiatrist B App Sc Pod
Newcastle Family & Sports Podiatry
P: 02 4961 4411


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