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  • Mike Curtin

Back to school. What shoes does the podiatrist buy his kids???

It’s January and as a Dad and a podiatrist I am often asked what shoes I buy my kids for the coming school year.

When making this decision, most people reflect on the costs of sending their children off to school for another year. Books, uniforms, stationary and bags are all considerable impositions upon the family budget after the Christmas New Year period. I would however like to speak for the humble school shoe. The temptation to buy the discount department store offerings at $30 to $40 are there. These shoes are readily available and seem to be good value with stamps and approvals attached to them to entice parents. It is also interesting to note that many parents are more than happy to pay up to $150 for a pair of sports shoes for their kids…..

Ascent school shoe.

So let’s have some perspective. The average child will wear their school shoe for 8 hours a day, four days a week (assuming sports day is once a week) for 40 weeks in the school year. This hourly rate assumes that they put their shoes on at 8am and take them off at 4pm, conservative by most standards. That’s nearly 1300 hours of wear each year! In the knowledge that they are at a desk for a sizable portion of the day, let’s say each child averages 2 km/hour in the shoe. They move much more at morning tea and lunch, running, skipping and jumping as well as to and from school and moving between classrooms, library, computer room. There have been a number of studies that reveal that students do more walking and movement during the week than on the weekend, so on reflection that is 2600km per year! This shoe must do a mountain of work each year.

Ascent Mary Jane

It must be said that in fashion, you rarely get what you pay for. Designer labels can force the price of a product up 20-fold. But in footwear such a sports shoes and school shoes, you definitely get what you pay for! If you are not spending $80 and over on a pair of quality school shoes, then your child is just not getting the help they need to get through the school year. Often, I see paediatrics patients who arrive in $40-50 pair of school shoes and due to the lack of support, the parents need to bring them to me for a consultation. Generally, they leave here with a recommendation to purchase better shoes and have also had to pay my consultation fee on top. If the parents had made the choice for a top-quality school shoe initially (instead of the flashy fashion shoes), I doubt they would have had need of my services. Yes... I'm looking at you Nike Free! The lesson might be that a better decision in January could save you money in the long run.

So back to the question of what shoe would I buy my child? Well, the known brands like Clarks and Startrite are always a safe bet. Clarks are available at many retailers in the Central West and have a history of producing a quality school shoe. I have worn them and can vouch for the fact they are a terrific option to put on young feet. Definitely, the gold star of the school shoe world! I must admit that my school shoe of choice and the shoes that my children will be fitted to in 2017 are Ascent school shoes.

They get my “Principals Award” for all round achievement! They are truly a great all round shoes and are marketed as sports shoes in disguise. They come in several styles that will suit those who like more of a jogger look as well as those who are required to wear a typical shoe school style often required by private schools. They also have a Mary Jane style, which incidentally is popular amongst the nursing fraternity with all those long hospital corridors and hard floors. My two sons who are notoriously hard on shoes finished their 2018 school year with their Ascent shoes in serviceable condition. Similarly, those in Clarks and Startrite shoes seem to arrive for their consultations in better condition at the back end of term 4 than those who bought less expensive brands.

My tips when buying school shoes are go to a reputable retailer with trained staff to fit them properly. Many specialty shoe stores can help but also retailers such as Sportsman’s Warehouse will carry Clark’s and Athletes Foot with both Clarks and Ascent can fit your school shoes and then give you great advice regarding sports shoes. If your child wears orthotics or shoe inner soles make sure you take them along to the fitting and have the shop assistant fit them to the shoes before your kids try them on. As a parent ensure there is a little space for growth and inspect the shoes before you buy them. The heel should not collapse when you push on it from any direction. The only place the shoe should bend is underneath the toe joints and there should be minimal twist to the sole when applying a twisting force. If you do all these things and the shoe passes the test, your child will set off on their 2018 school year journey in a set of school shoes that will support them in their busy day.

Click on our blog for advice on school sports shoe selections for the coming school year!

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