Most kids are wearing shoes that are too small, and it's creating more than just an uncomfortable situation. Tight shoes can cause serious foot deformities that they'll have for the rest of their lives. Apparently, we need to ramp up the toe test!

Sometimes it happens.  We'll buy a pair of shoes for the kids in August when school starts, and send them through the whole year without asking once whether the tips of their toes have reached the shoe finish line and they're feeling the tips of their toes crammed up against the tip of the shoe.  My kids wear the same shoes nearly every day, and I think it's such a habit that they totally forget they're growing.

BlitzResults did a survey and found out that 67% of all kids are wearing shoes that are too small, and that can cause something called hallux valgus. It's a real problem that can have a lifelong impact.  Yikes.  It's a foot deformity that happens when the big toe starts to angle toward the inside and that causes a swollen lump just below the big toe.  Ouch.  It might be a lump now, but it sounds like a bunion down the road.

Of the kids wearing shoes that are too small, 48% are one size too small and 19% are even two sizes under the comfort level.  Only 33% of kids are wearing the correct size, and only 10% of those have room to grow.  Most parents said they'd never measured their kid's foot length and relied on eye tests instead.

Oh, and here's a crazy little nugget.  The right and left foot rarely have the same length, and a difference of up to half an inch is completely normal.  Use the longer foot as the guide when buying shoes of course.

My mom was an intense shoe-buyer when I was growing up.  She made me pick out at least three different shoe styles and try them all on rather than rely on the size on the box.  She would get down on her knees in the store and do the thumb test.  She'd put her thumb on the toe of my shoe and press down while I pointed up with my big toe.  As long as she could get a decent-sized thumbprint between the beginning of my toenail and the tip of the shoe, she was happy.  If she could only get half of a thumbnail into that space, we were going up a size.  The official aim, I've read, is to go for at least a half-inch of leeway.

My 11-year old ended up with stress fractures in both heels last spring and those took two months to heal.  I think her softball shoes played a role, and I'm much more careful now to make sure her feet have plenty of room and cushion in every shoe.

This is another reminder that a parent is a manager who constantly has to assess, evaluate, plan, and order supplies.  Maybe we'll prevent a bunion in the process.

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