Whether we’re hitting the gym or enjoying the great outdoors, we all understand the importance of keeping our bodies fit and healthy. However, there’s one, very hardworking, part of the body that many of us tend to neglect: our feet!
Here at Kickers, we love to see happy feet in our shoes, so we’ve put together a quick guide to keeping your tootsies in tip-top condition. Read on for our five top foot health tips (plus some essential toe-wiggling exercises), info on finding the best-fitting shoes, and an insight into why our little Kicks are just so good for kids!
Give 'em a wiggle: five top tips for healthy feet
1) Keep your feet clean and dry – be sure to get the towel between every toe after washing to avoid fungal infections and irritation.
2) Don’t allow toenails to grow too long. Snip straight across (the shape should resemble a TV screen) – they can become ingrown if shaped like fingernails.
3) Change shoes and socks every day to allow the moisture from wear to disperse (a great excuse to treat yourself to extra pairs of your favourite Kickers, we say!).
4) Regularly wiggle and separate your toes one by one. Whatever time of day, wherever you are and whatever your footwear you’re wearing, you should always be able to wiggle your toes. Go on, give ‘em a wiggle!
5) If your feet hurt, something’s not right. Be sure to visit a registered chiropodist/podiatrist for advice.
Flex those foot muscles: easy exercises for everyone
Give your feet an extra workout with these fun games – great for all the family!
- Use your toes to pick up marbles one by one and pop them into a container – it’s not as easy as it sounds!
- Kids love to balance, so get them to practise their circus skills by ‘walking the tightrope’ – it’s great exercise for their little feet. Roll out a line of ribbon or string and get your little ones to tiptoe to the end and then tiptoe backwards… if they fall off they have to start again. Also a good one for mums and dads to try too!
- Bath time is a great time to flex those feet – try picking up your sponge, flannel (or favourite bath toys, kids!) off the bottom of the tub using just your toes.
- Strengthen weak ankles while sitting at your desk in the office or when watching TV by circling your foot (not your leg), first clockwise then anti-clockwise. Go on, give it a whirl.
Size them up: how to ensure a perfect fit
Adults’ sizing tips
Ill-fitting shoes don’t just affect your feet but your entire body. If you’re in pain or uncomfortable, you shift your body weight and change your gait (the way you walk). This puts pressures on other areas of the body and may create aches and pains elsewhere. Ouch!
- Do the wiggle test. Make sure you can wiggle your toes a little inside your shoes. Try on both shoes and walk a few steps to see if they pinch or rub.
- Buy footwear made of natural materials. Cotton and leather linings and leather uppers are porous, meaning moisture is absorbed and allowed to escape, so feet are kept dry avoiding irritating complaints such as Athlete’s foot. Leather is also the only material that moulds to the shape of the foot and stays there, so you’re almost guaranteed a perfect fit!
- Wear the right shoe for the right occasion. Buy your shoes before your outfit – they’ll stay on longer and will be worn more often than your clothes. Comfortable feet will keep you smiling – and, remember ladies, high heels are NOT for walking long distances!
- Shoe shopping? Feet tend to swell during the day, so buy footwear in the afternoon when your feet are at their largest.
- Look after your shoes. Polish them and they will look better and last longer; protect nubuck and suede with spray before wearing to keep them clean and repel water. Click here for more shoe care tips
Kids’ sizing tips
From birth to early teens, feet are at their most vulnerable; in fact there are 26 bones in the foot and they don’t finish growing until the age of 18! Little ones will often overlook discomfort or not tell you if their shoes hurt – but it’s in these early years when long-term damage can be done, so it’s doubly important that you buy well-fitting shoes for children.
- When do kids need their first pair of shoes? The simple answer is: when a child is walking most of the day and wants to walk outside, they need shoes to protect their little feet. Walking can happen between the ages of seven months and two years – and once they get going, they’ll be no stopping them!
- Kids’ shoes should be designed around the shape of the feet, i.e. slim at the heel and wide at the front. Look for shoes that are firm and snug at the heel to cradle the foot and flexible at the front with an adjustable fastening.
- Choose shoes with a lace, strap or Velcro fastening. Not only do they make children’s shoes extra fun, fastenings allow for finer adjustments giving a better overall fit.
- Never rely on the question “do they feel comfortable?” when fitting very young children! Their teeny feet can be distorted or cramped without them feeling discomfort, and kids will often say shoes are comfortable if they like them! It’s always best to check yourself: there should be about 18mm (or 2/3”) growing room between the end of the longest toe and the end of the shoe. Then check that it’s the best width with no pressure on the sides of the foot and that your child walks easily and naturally in the shoes.
- Check kids’ shoes eight weeks after purchase to see if they still fit. Children’s feet can grow by a half size in a matter of weeks, so you may not be mistaken if they seem to have grown bigger overnight!
- Don’t forget socks. When little ones need new shoes they may also need new socks. Choose natural materials like cotton and wool, and discard outgrown or misshapen socks; socks or baby-grows that are too small at the toes will restrict growth and circulation.
- Never hand shoes down – they take on the shape of the previous wearer, so they may rub, and they can even harbour infections.
(Advice provided by the Society of Shoe Fitters. For more information on foot care, shoe buying and fun feet exercises, visit www.shoefitters-uk.org)
Healthy, fun footwear: designing with kids in mind
We’re proud of our reputation for producing beautiful, practical and hugely popular footwear for children – and we put a lot of thought into ensuring our products give little feet all the support they need in those important years when they still have so much growing to do.
Here’s an insight into the three guiding principles we use when designing little Kicks –always with health, comfort and fun in mind.
1. Room to grow, naturally: age-appropriate design and materials
Our design process for kids always starts with the lasts, which are made to allow for growth space, correct heel height and toe spring. Then, for shoe patterns, we consider the age of the wearer. For example, little ones’ shoe designs protect the feet and provide support in the heel area. Also, many of our kids’ shoes are made completely out of non-synthetic materials (making them more breathable), with a soft padded lining to support the arch.
2. Flexible, secure ‘and difficult to destroy’: ensuring comfort and durability
For babies, we ensure shoes have flexible uppers to allow ease of movement, and laces as they are easy to adjust and babies can’t undo them by themselves. For infants, we add grippy soles to help them as they begin toddling and use Velcro straps so they are ‘easy on and off’. Generally, for all ages the interiors are smooth and seamless to avoid rubbing. We’d also pinpoint durability as one of the big reasons parents buy Kickers shoes for their kids – Kicks are a little bit more difficult to destroy!
3. Happy feet = happy kids!
We believe kids appreciate their shoes much more than adults do – the shoes become a big part of their developing personalities. But the biggest thing to consider for the Kickers kids’ design team is that the shoes are fun and cute – and that there are endless ways to play with them. Our job is to ensure that we combine that sense of fun and style with well-made, protective footwear that’s kind on kids’ feet!