young athletes

Carol Frey

Does the shoe really fit – sensible shoe advise for young athletes

In general, young athletes are wearing shoes that are too small. As a result of wearing too-small shoes, these kids may be at risk for developing significant foot deformations over time.

The solution to the problem is relatively easy. Follow the instructions below, and make sure your young athlete is always well equipped when it comes to his or her athletic wear.


  • Insist that you or the store associate measure your child’s feet (both feet) every time you buy shoes for them. If one foot is larger, you’ll have to buy a larger size.
  • Parents need to know when the shoe fits, especially for sports shoes. Go by the fit, not by the size marked inside the shoe or on the box.
  • Every parent knows kids will often outgrow their shoes before the shoes are worn out. However, once there are about three hundred miles on a shoe (or three hours of practice) the cushioning properties of a shoe are usually shot anyway. Mark the date of purchase inside the shoe with a sharpie!
  • If the outer sole is worn, or the shoe tilts to one side or the other because of wear, throw the shoes away. They may cause an injury otherwise. Place the shoes on a counter top and look at them from the back and inspect the wear patterns on the outer sole.
  • Young athletes should not wear a negative heel shoe (where the heel is lower than the toe of the shoe, like the angle on Birkenstocks or Earth shoes). This angle will put too much stress on the growth plates of the heel or the Achilles tendon.
  • Beware that some soccer shoes are designed with a negative heel. Don’t buy those brands if you have heel pain. Again, check the slope of the shoe by inspecting them on a counter top.
  • If the heel is lower than the toe area of the shoe, then it is most likely a negative heel shoe and can cause problems in the heel.

Buying well-fitting shoes is much more than just checking the ads and comparing prices. You are making an investment in your young athlete’s feet and lowering the potential for injury.

great runners – great shoes!





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