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The University of Southampton
Health Sciences

Ill-fitting school footwear could be seriously affecting children

Published: 19 August 2010

As the start of the new school year draws closer, and a small fortune is invested in kitting out children's feet, experts are warning parents of the consequences of ill-fitting footwear. Podiatrists from the University of Southampton's School of Health Sciences say that improper and incorrectly fitted footwear can seriously damage a child's physical development and potential.

As parents head out on the quest for school footwear, they need to be aware that the money they part with could actually be causing long term problems for their child such as arthritis, muscular and postural problems.

The perfect shoe is hard to find, and often a matter of compromise, particularly as children become influenced by fashion trends and peer group pressure.  UK retailers recently caused uproar when two-inch high heeled shoes went on sale for children as young as three.

In late primary and early secondary school children, growth accelerates at the same time as sporting activities and school activities tend to increase, travel to school may be further and there may also be evening activities.

Ivan Bristow, a podiatrist at the School of Health Sciences, comments: "Inappropriate shoes and shoes that do not fit correctly can cause life-long foot problems in adulthood and invite problems in other parts of the body such as the ankles, knees and back.  

"It is estimated that 70% of adult foot problems begin at school.  Shoes that are too big, too small, too high or inadequately supported are all to blame.  Fallen arches, hammer and claw toes, bunions and muscular problems are just the start.

"Failure to recognise and rectify the consequences of bad footwear can lead to long term problems for children and they may fail to reach their full potential."

In addition, troublesome feet can also have an adverse effect on the personality with awkward walking and poor posture causing shyness and an avoidance of sports.

Issued by Jo Kedward, Polymedia, 01329 822866

For further information contact Sarah Dimmer, School of Health Sciences, University of Southampton, 023 8059 8268, ext 28268

Notes for editors

The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for research and scholarship across a wide range of subjects in engineering, science, social sciences, health, arts and humanities.  

With over 22,000 students, around 5,000 staff, and an annual turnover of almost £400 million, the University of Southampton is one of the country's top institutions for engineering, computer science and medicine. We combine academic excellence with an innovative and entrepreneurial approach to research, supporting a culture that engages and challenges students and staff in their pursuit of learning.

The University is also home to a number of world-leading research centres, including the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, the Optoelectronics Research Centre, the Centre for the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, and the Southampton Statistical Sciences Research Institute

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