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Buying Athletic Shoes for Children

Linda Manikowske, Ph.D., Associate Professor Department of Apparel, Design and Hospitality Management, NDSU

Is buying expensive, brand-name athletic shoes necessary for children to participate in sports activities?

Selecting the right athletic footwear for children under 12 isn’t always easy. You have many points to consider, not the least of which is your budget. Children outgrow their shoes quickly at this age and fit is very important. Shoes that don’t fit properly can cause pain and discomfort that can affect athletic performance, and cause injuries and foot problems that can persist throughout life.

Shoes are available for different types of sports, such as running, soccer and basketball, but consider what the child will be doing the most. Materials are important, too. Leather, suede or canvas are more breathable than synthetic materials. However, new developments in materials are allowing shoes to be very lightweight while still providing good support and breathability.

Here are some tips for a successful shopping experience:

  • Choose a store where a professional can measure your child’s foot.
  • Shop at the end of the day or after a sporting event, when your child’s feet are at their largest.
  • When fitting, be sure your child is wearing the specific socks he or she will wear with the shoes.
  • Check for fit in the heel area because slipping causes blisters.
  • Allow for time to walk around the store, and expect the shoes to be comfortable right away.
  • After the shoes are removed, check for any areas of redness or irritation on the child’s feet.
  • Communicate with the child about how the shoes feel, remembering that young children may not be able to tell you details, only that their feet hurt.
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