Choose the right shoes and bags for your kids

August 22, 2015 08:02
Children prefer trendy shoes and bags featuring their favorite cartoon characters, but parents should know better. Photo: HKEJ

By this time, parents are starting to shop for school items for their children to get them ready for the school opening in September.

While kids normally prefer the trendiest goods, such as those that feature their favorite cartoon characters, it is more important to pick the right ones.

Wearing the wrong shoes, for example, could lead to flat or deformed feet, while poorly manufactured school bags will increase pressure on the spine, which could lead to a hunchbacked posture or uneven shoulders.

According to statistics, around two to three in 10 people have flat feet. Chiropractor Wong Hon-wing says it is crucial for children to wear shoes with the right size and fit to minimize the risk of developing flat feet.

It is best to choose functional footwear that can provide comprehensive protection, especially to those who have flat or high-arched feet.

Shoes that have thick heels can reduce the pressure exerted on the feet. Insoles should not be too soft but be able to provide extra arch support.

“While people are walking, both feet bear the weight of the entire body. If arches are too weak and don't provide sufficient support, they will cause fatigue or even pain in the long run,” Wong explains.

Flat-footed individuals have low arches or no arches at all and so they often feel discomfort or pain when walking or running.

Arch pain might just be the start, as flat feet can set off a chain reaction upwards through the body.

“Patients with flat feet might develop knock knees as their legs tend to rotate inwards," says Wong.

"Meanwhile, people with high arches experience great pressure on their forefeet and heels while walking and so they will easily have tired soles. They will also more prone to sprains and develop bow-leggedness.”

Picking a good pair of shoes becomes a matter of utmost importance.

Round-headed shoes are preferred to pointy ones. “Pointed shoes will squeeze the toes together and pressure cannot be evenly spread to whole feet. This will affect the natural biokinetics.”

Besides, there should be plenty room for the toes in shoes for normal feet development in the case of children.

It is difficult to pick the right size of shoes. Some parents prefer a larger shoe size as their children are growing up quickly, while others think shoes get looser from constant wearing so they a smaller size.

Wong dismisses both arguments, noting that neither a larger size nor a smaller size is the right one for their kids.

Picking shoes that are larger than the normal size for your kid will increase the risk of sprain.

Smaller shoes aren't advisable either as it is impossible to predict how the shoes will change in shape as time passes.

Wong recommends the one-finger test. First, one must make sure that the toes can comfortably wiggle inside a round-headed pair of shoes. Then there should enough room for put a finger between the back of the shoe and the wearer's heel.

Deep-lugged shoes that increase the friction with the ground are also a good choice as they minimize the risk of slipping.

He also advises people to avoid buying shoes in the morning as the increased circulation will make feet overly swollen.

The best time to fit shoes is at noontime, when the feet are only slightly swollen and they should give a more accurate representation of their condition for the entire day.

Apart from shoes, the school bag is also a must-buy item. Bags made from soft materials or without sternum straps and waist belts are not ideal options.

“When children put on the school bags, the center of gravity shifts slightly backward. In order to balance, their body will move forward naturally. But that’s a wrong posture and will affect the development of their spine,” Wong explains.

Backpacks should be used as school bags. They must have shoulder straps with thick pads, and preferably with chest straps and waist belts.

The sternum strap will keep the bag in place without swinging sideways. The waist belt can distribute the weight of the backpack from shoulders to the pelvic bone.

Inside the bag there should be organization pockets where the heavier books should be placed nearest to the spine.

If there are too many books, carry some books by hand instead of putting them all in your backpack.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug. 18.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version中文版]

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Chiropractor Wong Hon-wing (left) says backpacks must have shoulder straps with thick pads, and preferably with chest straps and waist belts. Photo: HKEJ

Reporter at Hong Kong Economic Journal