The University of Sydney used a controlled trial of 70 school students aged 9-12.
The boys and girls were randomly assigned to wear a standard (rigid, bulky and narrow) or moderately minimalist school shoe for at least three days a week for nine months.
The world-first research found children who wore the lighter, more flexible shoes had improved balance by the end of the trial.
That's after less than a year of wear…
Now imagine the impacts on a kid’s feet from an entire primary and secondary education trapped in tight and stiff shoes.
Lead author Dr Shayan Quinlan said previous research had shown the benefits of children going barefoot, but because this isn’t an option at school, her research needed to explore what toll footwear design took on the musculoskeletal structure and function of children.
“Our study suggests the ideal shoe design for children would be sufficiently flexible to allow the foot to move similar to when barefoot whilst still protecting the foot from the elements and rough terrain,” said Dr Quinlan
“This study is the first long-term research to investigate the effects of school shoe design, which is important because children spend a considerable amount of time in their shoes at school each weekday, potentially impacting their growth and development.”
The research recommends parents look out for the following when buying school shoes:
- Weight: the lighter, the better
- Flexibility: ensure there is movement when you twist and fold the shoe in all directions
- Structure: the smaller the height difference from the heel to under the ball of the foot the better
Vivobarefoot is one brand that encompass all of these qualities, protecting the feet while still allowing them to function naturally.
It’s also important to encourage kids to get out of their shoes when they aren’t at school, to play barefoot and challenge their balance and coordination with different games and activities, so they can build a strong foundation for life.