Kids' Shoes That Work Out

For the little athlete in your life, a good-quality pair of running shoes is perhaps the most important piece of kit you will buy. Why? Because choosing the wrong type could lead to injury -- or even cause your child to give up sports altogether.

Children's Running Shoes

Types of arches

One of the most important considerations is your child's arch. There are three types:

  1. Neutral: On landing, the foot rolls naturally and with ease.
  2. Low: On landing, the foot rolls inward.
  3. High: On landing, the foot rolls only slightly.

Types of running shoes

Here are the three shoe types, each designed exclusively to support a specific arch type:

  1. Stability: Designed to provide rear foot and forefoot stability for normal/neutral arches
  2. Motion control: For those with flat feet
  3. Cushioned: Highly flexible and are specifically made for those with high arches.

6 Shopping tips

Now that you're aware of the choices, here's how to make the buying process run more smoothly (no pun intended):

1) Get some expert advice. Take advantage of the knowledge that salespeople can offer. Those working the shoe department are usually trained to help you choose the right type and size for your child's foot.

2) Time it right. Shop at the end of the day, when your child's feet have swollen slightly. Have her wear a pair of sports socks to the fitting.

3) Try them out. Ensure the laces are not tied too tightly, because this will cause discomfort. Ask your child to stand up and walk about the store. Have him walk or run on a treadmill if one is available. Look for enough space at the heel, toe and sides for ease of movement. See if your child is able to squeeze his finger down the back of the heel, which will help him get the shoes on and off easily.

4) Don't expect your child to "break in" her new shoes. A decent design should be wearable right off the bat and cause no pain. Don't buy shoes that hurt her in the store.

5) Consider the surface on which your little athlete will run most often, as well as his body type. Research the available choices and listen to the salesperson's expertise -- but don't allow yourself to be talked into the latest flashy (read: expensive) release just because it's trendy.

6) Throw away old shoes or, better still, recycle them. The shock-absorbing ability of a shoe declines with every mile; if your child wears the shoes past their peak, she risks injury. Experts advise that you record the date of your shoe purchase and throw them away at the six-month or 500-mile mark, whichever comes first.

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