Easter Activities, Competitions and Tips on looking after our Children’s Feet with “Keep Feet Fit Week”
Written by Tanya Marriot – Member of the Society of Shoe Fitters & owner of SoleLution Portishead & Clifton, Bristol
When I first decided to open the shoe shop in Portishead, I wanted to ensure I was fully clued up on shoes and feet. Having a wide foot myself, I’ve had problems most of my life finding shoes that fit, let alone ones that I like! Thankfully, due to my Mum’s insistence, I wore properly fitted footwear and as such have “perfect” wide feet and no signs of bunions or the like as yet. Training with the Society of Shoe Fitters meant that I was, and am, along with my fantastic team, able to provide the best service and advice to our customers.
Leonardo da Vinci called the human foot a “masterpiece of engineering and a work of art”. In my opinion, he was right. Each foot has 26 bones, 19 muscles, over 100 ligaments and thousands of nerve endings and the pair we have enable us, on average, to walk 70,000 miles in a lifetime – that is 4 times around the world! And yet, generally, we are not very good at looking after them!
As a first time Mum, not long after we opened the shop in Portishead 10 years ago, I was surprised as to how little information was given to me on how to look after my new bundle’s feet. Each year, the week before Easter, the Society of Shoe Fitters organise and promote National Shoe Fitting, or “Keep Feet Fit” week. This week is all about educating the public as to why it is so important we look after our feet right from birth and why professional shoe fitting is so vital to our health. This is reflected by the support we are receiving this year from the College of Podiatrists, Children’s Footwear Register, Institute of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, Diabetes UK and The Lympheodema Support Network.
Some Foot Development Facts
It takes, on average, 18 years for our feet to fully develop. When we are born each foot has only 22 partially developed bones, which increases to 45 as we start school, before they begin to fuse together (process of ossification) to make the 26 we find in our adult feet.
At 6 months, the foot comprises more cartilage than bone. Ill-fitting socks or even a tight baby grow can deform the foot as cartilage is more malleable than bone. Try wiggling the end of your nose!
At 2 years old, the bone structure is still developing, but there is still a lot of cartilage. The arch is still developing. You may watch your child taking their first few steps and think they look flat footed. It is unlikely, unless they are suffering pain. The puppy fat around the foot acts as a natural arch support as the bones develop.
At 8 years old, the phalangeal bones (toes) and metatarsals (long bones leading up to your toes) can be seen on the x-ray image, but these will take another 10 years to develop fully. It is at this stage, that as parents, we tend to let our kids have a bit more say in the shoes they want to wear, thinking we have protected them for their formative years. Unfortunately this is not the case. Ill-fitting footwear can still cause a lot of damage and impact how the bones finally fuse and shape.
At 18 years old, the bones are fully formed and hardened. This is your adult foot!
Why buy shoes from a trained shoe fitter?
Listening to customer comments in the store, I often hear the exasperation that we have measured their child a different size to what they were measured elsewhere. However, as a trained shoe fitters we know that the gauge is simply a guide and in most cases a starting point. But WHY?
- There is no standard shoe measurement, which is good as nobody has a “standard” foot, let alone a standard pair!! The brand, the style, the materials used and even the factory where the shoe is made can impact how the shoe fits. Also the gauges will be calibrated for the brand who provided it.
- The gauge gives us the length and width of your foot, but doesn’t tell us is if you have a narrow heel, a high instep, or a deep, shallow, wide or narrow foot.
- Gauges vary. One variation is whether you stand on them or you sit on a chair to be measured. The latter is calibrated to take into account how an average foot spreads when you stand, but do you have a standard foot? My son and daughter, for example, naturally hold their arch high when they sit. When fitted they are always at least a whole size more than the gauge says!
- And last but not least, even if they were only measured yesterday, your child may have grown!
At SoleLution, this year we have lots going on to celebrate Keep Feet Fit Week 2016. On the 24th March we are measuring as many of Portishead Primary School’s children’s feet as we can, whilst raising funds for the school. Each child will have cut out their feet on card and once they’ve been measured these will be stuck to paper which, on a dry day, we will roll out from the school and see if we can reach the shop. Do you think we will succeed?
We are also running “Design a Shoe” and “Colour my Feet” competitions along with the Find the Feet Trail around Portishead and Clifton Village which will run from Easter Saturday 26th March until the end of the school holidays. Pop in and see us at SoleLution, or visit our Facebook page, to keep up to date with what is going on. You may even find some fun games to play to help strengthen your feet!
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