SOLEPAD Technology: Looking after our children’s feet
Shoes: There is no other article of clothing a child can wear that can cause health issues due to poor fit.
How many times have we wondered if our children’s shoes are still good enough? If the child doesn’t complain, then there is no problem, right? Well, children will not complain until their shoes fall apart. During the lifetime of their shoes, their feet grow little by little each day; it is very difficult for them to understand that shoes that felt comfortable a few months ago do no longer fit; they cannot tell the difference as the change occurs slowly over time. So, do not expect the child to raise a flag until it is too late. Signs that may indicate a child is suffering with their feet include pain, inflammation, stiffness and unwillingness to join in activities. Unusual foot and general posture should always be investigated.
Parents need to take as much care of their children's feet as they do with their teeth. Unfortunately, most parents are unaware of the importance of having children’s shoes fitted correctly and the permanent injury that can be caused by shoes that are inadequate in length and width. Even if they did pay attention to the condition and fit of their child’s shoes, they would not know if and when a new pair is needed.
Children's feet tend to grow rapidly in the first four years of their life, but it can take up to 18 years for the foot's bones, muscles and ligaments to harden into adult form. So, teenage feet need to be looked after as well as those of smaller children. Also, the growth rate can be very unpredictable as a five-year-old child can sometimes go close to a year with the same size foot, then suddenly grow three sizes within the next year.
As a result, it is not a surprise that over 80% of children tested by Glasgow Caledonian University were found to be wearing the wrong sized shoe. The problem is that wearing shoes of insufficient length during childhood can lead to foot deformities such as the development of hallux valgus disorders, the commonly known bunions. Based on another study[i], the shorter the shoe is, the higher the value of the hallux angle becomes.
Squeezing our children's feet into the wrong sized shoes could be condemning them to a lifetime of problems. From blisters, pressure sores and ingrowing toe nails in the short-term, to feet deformities like hammer toe and knee and posture problems in the long-term. In addition, wearing inappropriate shoes can cause biomechanical imbalance, foot and back pain, ankle pain, altered gait and degrade their sports performance. There is a real need to have our children’s feet measured regularly. The school is the ideal environment to get this done. But how? Teachers do not have the right training measure feet or the time to get this done. SOLEPAD Solution
R&D CORE Limited, a UK based technology company, has developed the perfect solution to serve the above need.
The SOLEPAD station is a high tech, smart, highly portable, foot measuring device that can measure the length and width of each foot within one second with an accuracy of 1mm. No training is needed as the device is super user friendly and operator independent; the measurement process is fully automated; you just have to step on the sensing area. The measurement can take place in the classroom or in the school’s gym and the results communicated back to the parents.
The parents will know if and how much their children’s feet have grown and therefore know when they should be considering a new pair of shoes. Once they have a chance to visit the shoe store, qualified shoe fitting professionals can confirm the child’s foot size and check the fit of their current and of the new pair of shoes.
All schools that adopt the SOLEPAD technology will demonstrate their commitment to offer the best service to their students; it will help such schools stand out from the rest while at the same time they will address a serious health issue by raising the parents’ awareness and helping them take action. The importance of shoe fit and the SOLEPAD solution can be communicated to all parents through the school’s newsletter, via emails or brochures.
[i] Increased hallux angle in children and its association with insufficient length of footwear: A community based cross-sectional study, Christian Klein et al, BMC Muscoloskeletal Disorders, 17 December 2009.