More than four million Aussie kids will start the school year in 2023, and they’ll spend on average 15,000 hours in their school shoes and walk over 4000 kms – that’s almost the equivalent of walking from Melbourne to Perth!

Feet have 19 muscles, 26 bones, and 107 ligaments and an ill-fitting school shoe can leave kids susceptible to injuries, as well as affecting their posture and causing pain.

Brett Cale, National Sales Manager at Clarks Shoes

The bones in young children’s feet don’t fuse together until puberty. This means their feet can lack muscle strength and be prone to hypermobility, which is why they need firm, supportive shoes to help protect them while they’re growing.

“A good school shoe provides a stable home for immature bones. Without that support, children are in danger of developing flat feet, sore knees, shin splints and even back pain. A good shoe that fits properly is important.” Charlotte Bodell, podiatrist.

What to look for in school shoes

CHOICE have shared some great tips to help you find the right school shoe for your child.

“The best kind of school shoes should be supportive, durable and comfortable, with a good gripping sole,”

Charlotte Bodell, a podiatrist and spokesperson for the Australian Podiatry Association.

Here’s what you should look for:

  • Flexibility in the front. Pick up the shoe and try to bend it by pushing the toe upwards. A good shoe will bend at the ball of the foot but no further. This helps your child ‘push off’ with their toes while keeping the back half of their foot stable and secure.
  • Avoid too much flexibility. Shoes that bend all over or are easily twisted don’t give enough support.
  • A good school shoe will have a low heel to keep your child’s foot in a neutral position. An entirely flat shoe can cause your child’s toes to ‘claw’ when walking.
  • Not too heavy. Heavy shoes can cause muscle pain and foot aches, especially in little people.
  • Plenty of toe room. Check that your child can wiggle their toes and that the ‘toe box’ (the empty space at the end of the shoe) is deep.
  • Leather uppers tend to last longer than synthetic ones and let your child’s feet breathe (although shoes or trainers with synthetic ‘mesh’ uppers can be very breathable too).
  • The sock liner or insole should be soft, comfortable and made of an absorbent fabric to reduce sweating. You should be able to remove it easily, in case you need to replace it with an orthotic.
  • Shoe laces, buckles and Velcro are all equally good, but avoid slip-on shoes that can’t be adjusted.

Best places to shop for kids school shoes

With back to school creeping up faster than you can blink, lots of retailers are now offering discounts on their back-to-school range of shoes.

Mums often say some of the best school shoes are from Aldi and Kmart, you could also consider Target, Big W, and Myer.

We also recommend:

Bobux shoes

Clarks shoes – currently 20% off school shoes

Athletes foot

Shoes and Sox – currently 20% off black school and sports shoes

Read more – Aldi Vs Kmart: Mums share the best school shoes

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