Choosing the Correct ‘Back to School’ Shoe

Contact: Gina M. Digravio, 617-638-8491 |

Boston, Mass, — Parents everywhere will soon be preparing their children to go back to school. Along with this rite of passage comes another annual ritual–back to school shopping, in particular shoe shopping. Podiatrists at Boston Medical Center offer the following tips to take some of the confusion out of this important purchase.

It’s no surprise that kids want to be like other kids and wear what their friends are wearing. Still there is more to shoes than looking good. “Shoes need to be flexible and be able to sustain extreme activity. They should also provide support and cushioning and be breathable to allow body heat and moisture to escape,” said Geoffrey Habershaw, DPM, clinical director, Foot Specialist, Boston Medical Center (BMC). “However, a bad fit can negate all the benefits of a good shoe, finding the right size is essential,” he stressed. A foot can be sized with either a Brannick or Ritz-Stick measure which are available at many shoe stores. But since shoe sizes tend to vary by manufacturer, Habershaw advises that an accurate fit can only be assured once the foot is inside the shoe.

A good fit will allow about a half-inch of space in the width and length of the shoe. (When checking the length, measure the distance between the second toe and the end of the shoe. The second toe is usually the longest.) Though it may seem children quickly outgrow their shoes, Habershaw cautions against buying shoes that are too big. “A loose fit can cause painful calluses and sores by allowing too much movement in the shoe,” he added. On the other hand, shoes that are too small can cause an abnormal gait that can misalign growing bones in the feet.

Habershaw recommends getting your child a second pair of shoes and rotating them every day. “Doing this will allow your shoes to last as long as three pairs,” he added. For more information or to make an appointment at the Foot Specialists, please call BMC’s Health Connection at (617) 638-6767.