School Nurse: Healthy Feet

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Symptoms of feet problems Wearing shoes that fit properly and support your feet is vital to avoid sore feet and to prevent or alleviate many common foot problems. It’s also important to choose footwear that will minimise your risk of falling and slipping.

When choosing shoes, you need to consider the activity, the surface and your need for support.

High heels can cause significant physical stress

High-heeled shoes place the foot into an unnatural position, affecting both the foot and your posture. Prolonged periods of walking in high heels can place unnecessary stress on your back and neck, and result in permanent postural changes. It is not uncommon for women who have worn high heels for most of their working lives to find themselves in pain when they start to regularly wear flat shoes.

The high-heeled shoe also places greater pressure on the forefoot, which can cause a build-up of calluses. The pointed toe places significant pressure on the toes, which can cause permanent deformity, including bunions, claw toes, corns and thickening of the nails.

Appropriate footwear is vital for playing sport

Young athletes and school children who play sports require footwear that provides cushioning for shock absorption during running and jumping, and stability for side-to-side activity. Sports shoes should bend easily at the ball of the foot, and the back of the shoe should be supportive and cradle the heel to prevent injury.

Shoe inserts and insoles

Shoe inserts can increase comfort and support, and improve foot posture. Insoles bought at pharmacies and sports stores are generally made from soft materials to one generic arch shape. While they may be adequate for some people, they do not address specific problems and are not moulded to your foot. Some insoles are designed purely to redistribute body weight away from painful areas of your foot.

Podiatrists prescribe insoles to help change your foot posture. A change in foot posture may help to ease foot pain and prevent injury. A cast of your foot is usually taken in plaster and the insoles are tailored specifically to an individual’s feet. Because these devices are ‘one of a kind’, they are often more costly than those purchased over the counter.

Alternate your shoes

 

Alternating your shoes from one day to the next will help to vary the posture of your foot and distribute the load over a greater range of joints and muscles. It will also allow your shoes to dry out and so reduce the growth of bacteria. Alternating sports footwear allows the foam cushioning more time to ‘rebound’ (come back into shape). This may help prolong the life of your shoe. You should see your doctor or podiatrist if you are worried about your child’s feet or gait.

Problematic symptoms may include:

  • Abnormally shaped toes
  • Ingrown toenails (that persist or are painful)
  • Bunions or other deformities
  • Stiffness in the foot
  • Limping
  • The child complains of pain while walking, or favours one leg over another when walking
  • Severe in-toeing or out-toeing
  • Flat feet beyond the age of five years
  • A sudden change in the way your child walks

Where to get help

  • Your doctor
  • Paediatrician
  • Podiatrist
  • Physiotherapist

Wearing shoes that fit properly and support your feet is vital to avoid sore feet and to prevent or alleviate many common foot problems. It’s also important to choose footwear that will minimise your risk of falling and slipping.

When choosing shoes, you need to consider the activity, the surface and your need for support. The better the school shoe and sports shoe the healthier your child’s feet.

If you would like more information on a Podiatrist please visit the school nurse Ext.5039 at Health Services who will recommend one for you or your child.