School shoe review 2015
After looking through speciality stores & listening to sales staff, I have concluded that the best range of school shoes are in the surf shops. I must say that I was a little disappointed that the options are still very limited for a child who has an uninjured foot (the vast majority of kids!). School shoe “technology” currently lacks all rigorous scientific study & we are left with shoe companies marketing to us with footwear features that are potentially detrimental to our children’s development.
The best situation for a child’s developing feet is one of minimal influence from their footwear, so that the foot can develop good muscular strength & bone durability. Without the influence of a shoe’s cushioning at the heel, better walking & running patterns are developed as the foot learns to strike the ground with good shock absorbing technique.
Our criteria for ideal school footwear is:
Light weight for minimal impedance & best economy to run & walk
Flexible to allow the foot to move with natural biomechanics
Minimal or no heel differential – this is the difference between the heel height & forefoot height, 0mm difference allows for optimal range of the calf & achilles to develop strength
And don’t forget, you also need the shoe to fit your child’s foot well, this means it feels comfortable immediately in length & width. Be careful about leaving too much room to grow, because a sloppy shoe can lead to gripping with the toes to hold onto it while walking & running.
We have looked for a leather upper due to school regulations, but it’s certainly not a must have if your school is cool with a canvas shoe.
This is our best picks from the shoes we could find locally, but simply apply our 3 criteria to choose a good shoe of any brand otherwise.
Roc has covered all ground, producing one of the best school shoes available & also one of the worst – Dakota. It has an enormous heel differential which limits the full stretch of the achilles & calf, leading to less strength of these tissues in that stretch range.
Clarks Daytona has all the marketing hype of caring about your kids feet, but with the incorrect assumption that a highly supportive shoe is a positive attribute. There is an orthotic style insole boosting the inner arch, a high heel differential & stiffness throughout the midfoot. Having kids relying on arch support, reduces their ability to develop their own muscular stability.
You still have to be careful about choosing a shoe on how it looks from the shelf. I was surprised (even shocked) at the Blue Haven Roeselare, which looked like the best shoe this store had to offer with a neutral heel drop & minimal cushioning, but the sole stiffness was incredible – not even allowing the toes to bend. Your foot’s natural mechanism to create rigidity for propulsion in walking & running hinges on the toes extending, a shoe should always allow this.
New Balance 625 is a black cross training shoe with lots of cushioning, a high heel differential, a supportive midsole & it’s heavy. I was recently speaking to a year one teacher who said she always started the year with a bucket of bandaids to mend her students when they tripped over their little feet in their new heavy & bulky school shoes. All this extra cushioning material in a shoe goes to waste as our foot is well adapted to shock absorb for itself.
I would also like to say that this review was done on a rainy Sunday at a major shopping complex & I now have immense respect for the Mum’s & Dad’s who suffer the crowds with uninterested kids to get them new school shoes. Only one more year until that’s me, & the shoe store staff will be probably feel like they are suffering with my endless questions. I’ll let you know how it goes in 12 months.
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