Are Minimal Running Shoes Appropriate For Children
Minimal running shoes have gained popularity among adult runners, and parents often wonder if these shoes would be appropriate for their young children.
It is important to understand that the bone alignment changes that occur as children grow are a normal, healthy part of development and, under normal circumstances, we should not try to brace or control these changes The alignment of the bones in a child’s limbs changes as they grow. The bones not only get longer, but they also change shape as a child develops. Newborns have very high arches and bowed legs. Around age 4, kids usually have pronated (flat) feet and knocked knees. By the age of 7 or 8 years old, a child’s bones are getting closer to resembling that of a typical adult.
Unfortunately, children are too often placed in athletic shoes that are too stiff and narrow to allow the natural flexion of the foot and the normal spreading of the toes that should occur when they run. According to a recent article in Running Times magazine (Sept. 2012) the typical pair of running shoes are made for a man weighing 150-plus pounds and a woman weighing 130-plus pounds. In the past, running shoes for children were just scaled down versions of an adult shoe. Children don’t have the physical weight to flex these shoes which prevented the natural movement of the bones in the foot and prevented the muscles in the foot and lower leg from getting stronger. Fortunately, shoe companies are starting to make shoes for kids with that in mind and making kids running shoes that flex easier and do not restrict the natural movement of the foot.