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There is a common perception that poorly fitting footwear will negatively impact a child's foot, however, there is limited evidence to support this. To determine the effect of shoe size on foot motion, perceived footwear comfort and fit during walking, maximal vertical jump height and maximal standing broad jump distance in children aged 8-12 years. Fourteen participants completed 3D walking gait analysis and jumping tasks in three different sizes of school shoes (one size bigger, fitted for size, one size smaller). In-shoe motion of the hindfoot, midfoot and 1st metatarsophalangeal joint (1st MTPJ) were calculated using a multi-segment kinematic foot model. Physical performance measures were calculated via maximal vertical jump and maximal standing broad jump. Perceived footwear comfort and fit (heel, toes and overall) was assessed using a 100 mm visual analog scale (VAS). Differences were compared between shoe sizes using repeated measures ANOVA, post-hoc tests and effect sizes (Cohen's d). Compared to the fitted footwear, the smaller sizing restricted hindfoot eversion (-2.5°, p = 0.021, d = 0.82), 1st MTPJ dorsiflexion (-3.9°, p = 0.012, d = 0.54), and compared to the bigger footwear, smaller sizing restricted sagittal plane midfoot range-of-motion during walking (-2.5°, p = 0.047, d = 0.59). The fitted footwear was rated as more comfortable overall with the smaller size rated as too tight in both the heel (mean difference 11.5 mm, p = 0.042, d = 0.58) and toes (mean difference 12.1 mm, p = 0.022, d = 0.59), compared to the fitted size. Vertical and standing broad jump distance were not impacted by footwear size (p = 0.218-0.836). Footwear that is too small restricts foot motion during walking in children aged 8-12 years. Jump performance was not affected. Children were able to recognise shoes that were not correctly matched to their foot length, reinforcing that comfort is an important part of the fitting process. Copyright © 2021 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Elsa Matthias, Helen Ann Banwell, John Bradley Arnold. Children's school footwear: The impact of fit on foot function, comfort and jump performance in children aged 8 to 12 years. Gait & posture. 2021 Jun;87:87-94

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PMID: 33895636

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