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Should shoes for the first steps be hard or flexible?

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Understanding the importance of proper footwear for children who are just starting to walk is fundamental and we are happy to see some recent studies in the area that allow us to achieve interesting conclusions.

One of these studies1, published in 2013 in the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association, analyses how the structural characteristics of the shoe affect the distribution of plantar pressure in children who are just beginning to walk. More specifically, whether there are greater benefits in hard or flexible shoes during the first steps.

The results were quite conclusive, ultra-flexible shoes allow for a greater plantar load (practically similar to walking barefoot) and this mechanical feedback improves kinesthesia, a fundamental attribute for children who are starting to walk. On the other hand, more rigid footwear, with a conventional sole system, provides less plantar load and can change the way the child walks.

Put more simply, the study showed that ultra-flexible footwear is ideal for children to recognize their own position and environment without using their eyesight, which will naturally help young explorers learn to walk better and faster.

If you’re a worried mom or dad, be sure to choose shoes that are extremely flexible, light as a feather, with a thin sole and no slope, a wide toe box where the toes can move freely, without any reinforcement and with a thin insole without anatomical elements. Healthy feet make children happy.

1 – Hillstrom, Howard J et al. “Effect of shoe flexibility on plantar loading in children learning to walk.” Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association vol. 103,4 (2013): 297-305. doi:10.7547/1030297

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