Kids and Their Growing Feet

We are often asked about children's feet when parents notice young ones walk a little differently from adults, and when there is a family member with a bunion or foot ailment.

Here we have some information for parents on how feet grow and how we apply this to customers, and the shoes we help you choose.

In the beginning, the bones in our feet are only partially formed. Over the first 14 years, growth plates consolidate to 26 distinct bones and continue to grow in length, density, and strength. With 26 bones, 33 joints and100+ ligaments, our feet are complex pieces of kit. And be mindful that a 16-year-old can be 100kg and 190cm tall, (far bigger than Mum or Dad) - yet their feet are still growing.

Bones in the feet


While often following predictable gait patterns, children can develop in an individual way. Traits like in-toeing, flat-feet, bow-legs, and knock-knees are developmental phases that serve a purpose. Kids begin by standing flat-footed and bow-legged because it is stable and makes walking easier.

Why good shoe fitting is important

Short Term: Good fitting shoes will facilitate the foot developing correctly and being strong. They will protect growing feet, and help make playing and sports fun.

Long Term: By getting footwear right in the first 18 years, adult problems are minimized and some are eliminated.

Common shoe errors

Wearing a shoe that is too strong inhibits natural movement. While shoes that are too big bend in the wrong places and stress growing joints.

Athletic performance

It is extremely hard for a child to be feeling their best in poorly fitting shoes, so as tempting as it is please don't put the younger sibling in the older ones' boots and expect them to be their best.

Heels and knees

If any group needs good shoes, it is kids between 10 and 17 years old. It is common for young active boys and girls (around 12 yrs) to suffer pain in their heels and knees. The bones in the feet are growing and consolidating. You may have heard the term Severs disease in reference to heel pain. If your boy or girl is 11- 13 and has heel pain, a shoe with a little heel elevation and a snug fit (especially around the heel) usually helps. And the pain usually passes by the age of 14.

Fitting at Shoe Science

We measure all kid's feet and check their walking/ running gait - all in a relaxed way so it is fun for all of us. We look for shoes that flex and move with each child's foot while providing forward guidance.

We encourage being barefoot when possible and using shoes when needed. So feet develop strength and balance. We love helping kids feel confident when walking, running, and playing sport.


Craig is a podiatrist, runner, and passionate about improving lives through fitness.