As recreational water sports get more demanding and challenging it is more crucible than ever that kids water shoes are chosen in order to minimize the risk of injury. As well as reducing the possibility of slipping over or damaging toes, footwear also needs to provide support and stability for the wearer's ankles. Fortunately over recent years there have been huge developments in the materials that not only add slip resistance and protection to the foot, but are also lightweight.
The technology in footwear and growth in extreme sports for adults has historically filtered through to the children's footwear industry. Kids water shoes and kids performance shoes are now ample in the market with a whole host of footwear choices available to parents. In particular when seeking to protect children's feet from wet, slippery conditions many styles of waterproof trainers, water shoes and kids water sandals can beily found.
As well as performing under extreme environments footwear needs to be waterproof, add support to the ankle and leg and support the inside of the growing foot.
Here, as a footwear technologist with many years experience measuring and fitting children's shoes I describe some of the key criteria you should consider when choosing your children's shoes so you can be sure they perform well in the wet and do not lead to problems for them later in life.
1. Instep Support
On good quality footwear brands you will notice there is a 'bump' or raised area on the sock of the sole around the location of where the inside of the foot rests at the middle. This provides support to the arch of your child's foot. The arch acts rather like a shock absorber while running, but can actually start to swell and possibly collapse if doing something both demanding and physical for a prolonged period. Sometimes you may hear someone being referred to as 'flat footed'. This means they do not have this 'arch' on the bottom of their foot. This can lead to leg and back problems later in life.
2. Shock absorption
As well as supplying arch support, it is important that performance footwear has sufficient 'built-in' shock absorption in the sole of the shoe. Often companies will use a mixture of EVA and polyurethane to help absorb the energy as the foot is 'banged' or slapped on the road or track. Wearing footwear that does not contain this may lead to painful hairline fractures in the shin bones.
3. Correct material for the wet
When choosing water shoes and sandals for children it is important that the parents ensure that the fabric of the shoe dries quickly once it is wet. Having a wet upper material next to the foot can quickly cause an irritation on the foot, particularly in sandals. Blisters and open wounds will soon arrive which can quickly become very painful and may well get infected in wet, dirty environments. So for reasons of podiatric health it is really important that you and your children wear the correct sort of footwear appropriate to the demands the foot will be put under.
4. No slip
Also ensure the footwear is non-slip in wet environments. Water shoes can often be used in slippery conditions near boats, pools and on rocks on the beach. Several performance footwear companies have designed their own 'spider-like' technologies for the soles that ensure they grip well to wet surfaces. This will reduce the risk of injury, let alone the embarrassment as the poor child or parent slips over and hurts themselves whilst walking across the jetty just before or after they climb aboard their impressive speed boat or sailing ship!
5. Toe protection
Toe protection is another factor to consider when buying performance footwear. If their activity is likely to involve climbing or kicking of some description then having a strong area at the front of the foot, even if the shoe is a sandal, will add extra comfort and protection.
In summary, when buying water and performance shoes, make sure that you protect your foot and that it offers you the best possible slip resistance and support, then all you need to worry about is having a good time!