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What do you know about the foot? 


  • Do you know that the foot is a complex structure of 26 bones and 35 joints held together by numerous scores of ligaments ?  
  • Do you know that the baby’s foot is padded with fat and is highly flexible?
  • Do you know that baby’s foot has poor muscle tone and weak ligaments which improve by natural walking barefoot?
  • Do you know that during the first years of life your baby’s foot grows especially rapidly and very quickly reaches half length of the adult’s foot?
  • Do you know that the foot must have the possibility of unrestrained growth?
  • Do you know that hard shoes for babies can make irreparable damage to their feet?
  • Do you know that the great majority of children aged 3-4 years cannot say exactly whether the shoes suit them?


  • Do you know that allowing the foot grow freely facilitates in avoiding many orthopaedic problems?
  • Do you know why some adults can't wait for the evening? If no, go on reading...


Earlier beliefs  

              If you were born 20-30 years ago you must probably be one of those adults who grew up wearing tight shoes since their childhood. At those times people believed that the ankle of children is very weak – unstable and walking barefoot can develop flat feet. Parents and paediatricians believed in this truth for many years. But studies performed later proved that tight shoes are no good for children. Sylvia Ounpuu, movement specialist from Connecticut Children’s Medical Centre, performed research related with baby’s foot and reached conclusions that broke the old truths. Connecting pressure sensors with the help of computer and using slow video records scientists found out that already the first steps of babies resemble the steps of adults, if we don't consider their toddling. Babies don’t need any additional support – their ankle is strong and stable from the very beginning.


First steps


               The great majority of babies make their first steps between the 11th and 14th months, which is normal for the first-walkers. Their first steps often are predetermined by the baby’s weight and how parents encourage the baby to walk. Some babies start walking from 8 months of age, and others make their first steps when they reach 14 months. Don’t worry if your child starts walking later than you friends’ baby, don’t force your baby to go until it is not ready for that, let the baby start walking itself, help, but not force it. Natural progress of skills is more important than the time of starting to walk. Maybe your will be the first when the speaking time comes. Many people think that the child will start walking better and quicker if he wears one or another pair of shoes, but they are wrong, because the child will be experiencing stress and if the child can't yet walk independently he will keep falling down frequently. Would you like to slide down the hill if you don’t’ know how to ski? Or will you still be afraid?


How to choose footwear



               Don’t hurry to put on shoes on your child’s feet. For normal development feet need to move freely, while shoes, in particular if they are tight, limit the freedom of feet. Therefore instead of shoes for a baby who begins standing on his feet or is making the first steps you can buy socks with rubber soles or leather soft-sole footwear and your child’s feet will move freely and at the same time will be protected from dirt or slipping and maintain warmth generated by the baby’s foot. Shoes will be necessary when you baby starts walking independently. Try to choose as light, soft and flexible first shoes for your baby, as possible. To avoid accidents the sole must be protected against slipping and should be flat.


Many children younger than 4 years can’t say whether shoes suit them


The nervous system and sensing of the baby’s feet is less developed than of adults and due to that children do not feel that their shoes are too tight and cannot say whether the shoes suite them or not. Therefore, before buying shoes you should precisely measure the foot of the child rather than rely on the size indicated on shoes because not all manufacturers follow the same size standard.

As many children wear shoes too long, it is very important to check regularly whether their shoes are not too tight. Children’s feet grow particularly quickly. The foot of the child of 1–3 years of age can grow even by 2–3 sizes in one year (size 1 – 6.6 mm). Feet of school-age children grow a bit slower – by about 0.5-1 size annually. It is recommended to measure the foot of the child age 1–3 years every 2-3 months.

Scientists say

              Carol Frey, Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery of Manhattan Beach Clinics is of the opinion that “Children should walk on their own feet and learn to maintain balance, shoes are not necessary for support, their function is only to protect feet from environment.” She also says that “Walking barefoot helps children to develop stronger and more coordinated foot muscles.” Extract from “You Walk Wrong”, Adam Sternbergh. “Natural gait is biomechanically impossible for any shoe-wearing person”, argues William A. Rossi in his article published already in 1999. “It took 4 million years to develop our unique human foot and our consequent distinctive form of gait, a remarkable feat of bioengineering. Yet, in only a few thousand years, and with one carelessly designed instrument, our shoes, we have warped the pure anatomical form of human gait, obstructing its engineering efficiency, afflicting it with strains and stresses and denying it its natural grace”. To put it otherwise, it’s about time to improve our footwear... or walk barefoot. The same scientist investigating feet conducted a research. The results of his research are shown in the photo. At first the clay footprint of a child who has never warn shoes was made and photographed and later compared with the same child’s footprint made after three months wearing tight shoes every day – the latter case manifested obvious changes of the child’s foot. 


                          Many people think that the purpose of shoes is to shape the child’s foot, but why? We don’t shape our hands, face, head, etc. People have irresponsibly forgotten the main purpose of shoes and completely forgotten their feet. Shoes are meant for the protection of feet from dirt, cold, injuries, rather than for shaping the feet, if thanks to Mother Nature we have them healthy. We also have corrective footwear which is necessary for children and adults who suffer from serious feet problems. By the way, defects are often caused by incorrectly chosen footwear.


Some tips for parents          



                 Many parents actually devote little attention to the feet.....recently more and more people complain about the pain in the back. We should know about direct relationship between spine, knees, coax and feet. Our ancestors had to do most difficult work but seldom suffered from back pains. Our feet are often wantonly forgotten, while we should know that all weight of human body and movements sooner or later bear on feet. Our foot has to withstand all daily walks, so the more it is squeezed the less possibility is that it will use all available supportive functions. Sooner or later such damage of our feet is likely to develop into foot pathologies and pain in our knees, hips and back. In one day a man should make about 5 000-10 000 steps and 85% -100% of pressure sustained by feet and joints is caused by body weight. Hard shoes will have a negative impact on our feet squeezing them and the entire bone system of the foot, uncomfortable shoes can increase the existing pressure even up to three times, which seriously affects the entire foot system and might cause pain, arthrosis and weariness. The picture shows the places of human body where the pain can be caused by feet pathologies.  Many people have at least once returned home after the day’s work and felt such a relief having taken off their shoes, but only some of them draw the right conclusions, while others still keep waiting for the evening every day... 

    Remember: uncomfortable footwear is the greatest enemy of feet.