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Shopping

We would walk 500 miles

Ill-fitting shoes can have a major impact on your kids’ bodies and gait. Amy Mathieson speaks to shoe fitting expert Bob Hardy to find out everything we need to know about healthy little feet

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© ITP Images

Stationery to uniforms, ring-binders to in-soles, there are plenty of things that need shopping for as the kids return to school. And one of the most important things for your child is a correctly fitting pair of shoes. As children’s feet change so quickly, it’s vital that they have the right footwear, as this could have an impact on their bodies and health. Especially as they’re wandering around those halls and playgrounds all day. Bob Hardy, Clarks’ global shoe fitting expert, tells us everything we need to know.

How far in advance should you get fitted?
Ideally, within a month of returning to school to ensure any late growth spurts have occurred. Shopping early ensures more choice and the store team can allow a little extra space for any growth that might occur before school starts. School shoes should have growing room engineered into them, to allow for any changes.

How often should you have your children’s feet re-measured?
It’s more important to have the shoes they are wearing checked to see if they still fit. Many shoe stores offer a free fit check throughout the year.

What should you be looking for in a shoe?
There are many things to keep in mind. Firstly, materials – leather uppers are important to breathe and help keep feet cool, dry and healthy. Secondly, fit – it’s not just important to have half-sizes, but also width fittings, as only about one-third of children have a standard fitting.
Finally, quality – high quality leather needs pairing with quality sole and internal components to guarantee durability and fit. There also needs to be lightness and flexibility in the shoe.

How much do children’s feet change and in what time frame?
A baby is born with 22 bone beginnings in their feet. That increases to 45 separate bones by the time they are three. They then take until their mid to late teens for these to fuse together into the 26 bones of the adult foot. During this time, the foot grows up to 25 millimetres in the first year and then about 16 millimetres each year until the age of five. From then, it is around eight a year until their mid teens. On top of that, there are up to seven different stages of walking development, from initially rolling over to establishing an adult gait, which takes up to eight years. There is a lot going on in children’s feet

When is the most important time, age-wise, in foot growth and development?
Every stage up until the mid teens is important, but the most vital is between one and seven years old. All walking skills are being developed during this time and poorly fitting footwear can impact on this.This can lead to problems not just in the feet, but the knees, ankles and even back.
In the first four years, bone development and growth is at its most rapid and extensive. It’s a key time to pay attention to your child’s footwear.

Clarks stocks school shoes and offers
shoe-fitting services. Various locations including Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha, www.clarks.ae (04 340 3449).

By Amy Mathieson
Time Out Dubai,

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