First Steps: Keeping Kids’ Feet Healthy and Happy

  • By Ruth Ann Cooper
  • 13 Jun, 2016

When it comes to the health of our children, you do everything you can to help them grow up healthy and strong. You get them vaccinated, take them to the dentist and optometrist, and you do your best to ensure they eat a nutrition diet that will help them grow, but are you aware of the important role foot health plays in a child’s overall development?

"Every parent knows the frustration of trying to keep up with children who grow quickly and that rapid pace of growth can mean children need new shoes and socks every few months," says Dr Matthew Garoufalis, a podiatrist and past president of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). With warmer weather upon us, its a great time for parents to take a look at their children's shoes to ensure they're wearing footwear that will serve them well throughout the active days of summer.

Ill-fitting footwear can irritate kids' feet and aggravate existing conditions caused by injury, heredity, deformity or illness.

APMA offers parents guidance for keeping kids in shoes that fit properly and protect their feet:

·        Take the child with you and have him or her try on the shoes. Every shoe fits differently, so even if you're buying your child's correct size, the shoe still may not be comfortable. Have the child try on the footwear with the socks or tights you expect will be worn with the shoes.

·        Always measure a child's foot before buying new shoes. Children's feet grow so quickly, their shoe size can literally change from month to month.

·        Shop late in the afternoon when feet are largest and make sure to fit the shoe to the larger foot. Everyone's feet swell by the end of the day and no one has feet that are exactly the same size. One will always be slightly larger.

·        Never buy shoes that are too large or need a "break-in" period. Shoes should be comfortable immediately. Buying shoes for children isn't like buying a too-large coat that you know they'll grow into. Tripping or even injury can result from a child wearing shoes that are too big for him or her.

·        Let kids have a say--within reason. "Of course, parents will have to guide children toward good choices," Dr. Garafoulis says. "But allowing kids to have a say in the shoe-buying process can help promote healthy foot habits down the road."

·        Once your child takes the new shoes home, keep watch to ensure the shoes stay comfortable and in good shape. Examine the child's feet at the end of the day for signs of irritation. If your child always wants to remove one or both of the shoes, it may mean the shoes are uncomfortable.

·        Finally, never include footwear in hand-me-downs. Just because a shoe size fits one child comfortably doesn't mean it will fit a younger sibling the same way. Plus, sharing shoes can spread fungi like athlete's foot or nail fungus.

To learn more about foot health for the whole family, visit www.apma.org

Dr. Ruth Ann Cooper

By Ruth Ann Cooper 22 May, 2017

What lies hidden in the grass, dirt or sand can definitely wreak havoc on bare feet. From nails, shards of glass, slivers of wood, pieces of seashell at the beach, thorns from trees and plants or sometimes discarded toothpicks, each can puncture the skin of the foot and cause serious injury. Even after the object has been completely removed from the foot, any dirt or bacteria pushed into the wound from the puncture can lead to an infection, painful scarring or even a cyst. Any puncture wounds should be promptly treated in my office within 24 hours.

Besides hidden dangers, “everyday childhood injuries” can also interrupt a summer break. Protect your children’s feet from traumatic injuries, such as bicycle injuries and lawn mower accidents, by making sure they wear sturdy shoes while riding a bike or when cutting the grass.

Do not discount sunburn on the feet. Protect your children’s feet from the sun’s harmful rays by applying sunscreen to the tops and bottoms of their feet. Feet, like shoulders, burn faster than the rest of the body since they are most perpendicular to the sun’s rays. Not only is sunburn of the feet painful, it can also cause skin cancers that often go unnoticed until they become very serious.

By Ruth Ann Cooper 20 Apr, 2017

Competitive youth sports often require many athletes to transition from winter activities to spring activities without considering the increased risk of incurring a foot or ankle injury. Moving from indoor to outdoor playing surfaces with varying impact can stress a young athlete’s feet and ankles. Going from sport to sport without allowing time for muscles and bones to rest can cause overuse injuries.

If your child plans to participate in a sport this spring after playing through the winter sports season, follow these six tips:

  1.       Get a preseason health and wellness checkup. A medical evaluation before the season begins can help identify any health concerns that could possibly lead to injury.

2.       Take it slow. Ask the coach to gradually increase children’s playing time during practice to avoid pushing them full throttle. Your child’s feet and ankles need to become accustomed to the activity level required for a sport.

3.       Wear proper, broken-in shoes.   Different sports require different shoe gear. Wearing the appropriate, well-fitting, broken-in athletic shoes can eliminate heel and toe discomfort.

4.       Check your child’s technique. Watch for any changes in your child’s form or technique. Ask the coach to notify you if your child is placing more weight on wide side of his/her body or limping.

5.       Insist on open communication if your child has pain. Express to your child athlete that s/he should inform you and the coach of any pain or discomfort as soon as it occurs. Overuse injuries, such as Achilles tendonitis and shin splints, can be subtle and develop over time.

6.       If an injury occurs, remember RICE. An injured foot or ankle can often be healed with rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE). If your child complains of foot or ankle pain, s/he should take a break from playing and allow time for recovery.

By Ruth Ann Cooper 06 Apr, 2017

This painful condition results from inflammation of the tissue band (the plantar fascia) that extends from the heel to the toes. Repetitive activities, such as a new exercise routine or walking on a daily basis, can put stress on the ligaments in the foot, leading to inflammation and pain.

The good news is heel pain can often be relieved using conservative methods, but it must be treated early.

 Heel pain can become chronic and debilitating if not properly treated.

I can help you find relief with therapies, such as:

  •  Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Stretching exercises
  • Orthotic devices
  •  Physical therapy
  • Footwear modifications
  •  Activity limitations
  • MLS Laser Therapy
  • Extra Corporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT)

 Although most patients with plantar fasciitis respond to nonsurgical treatment, some require surgery. If you continue to have heel pain with non-surgical treatment, we can discuss your surgical options.

Heel pain should not stop you from enjoying the beauty of Spring. Make an appointment with my office if you are experiencing heel pain so my staff and I can help you resume a healthy and active lifestyle.

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