Summer brings a whole new set of activities and options for your children, many of which can lead to foot trouble if the proper precautions are not taken. We want your sons and daughters to have the ability to enjoy the entire summer season, so we’ve compiled various tips and advice for keeping their feet safe during our warmer months.
With that in mind, here are some top tips for keeping children’s feet healthy and safe this season:
- Slather on the Sunscreen—Many people forget to apply sunscreen to their feet. The skin on your feet is just as susceptible to the harmful effects of UVB and UVA rays as that on the rest of your body. On beach and pool days you should put sunscreen on the tops and bottoms of your children’s feet and reapply after swimming. If your children are wearing sandals or other open shoes and will be out in the sun shopping or sightseeing, you should also put sunscreen on their feet then.
- Pack the Flip Flops—Summertime is high season for athlete’s foot, fungal toenails and warts, all of which are spread by direct contact with the virus, fungi or bacteria that cause them. If you are spending time at a community pool or local beach, make sure your child keeps their feet covered around the pool and in changing areas and bathrooms—these are prime hangouts for fungal infections. Encourage your children not to share shoes, socks, towels or any items that touch someone else’s feet.
- Keep it Clean—Wash your children’s feet at the end of every day with a mild soap and warm water. Be sure to dry completely as well, especially between the toes. Trim toenails straight across with no curved edges to lower ingrown toenail risk. If your child’s feet sweat excessively, consider a foot powder to help keep them dry.
The summer season is the right time for children to be active, including running around with friends and playing sports. Of course, sports come with a certain degree of injury risk, but there are measures you can take to reduce that risk.
Now, no matter the sport that most interests your child, he or she is going to need the right footwear. This is an important consideration because the right shoes for summer sports will keep your child’s feet safe and healthy.
With this in mind, the right summer sport shoes are:
- Activity-appropriate. Every athlete needs to wear footwear that is intended for the sport he or she plays. It is possible to go for a long run in a pair of basketball shoes or play hoops in running shoes, but this can increase injury risk. Instead, provide your child with the right shoes for his or her sport.
- Breathable. You should always opt for footwear that is constructed of breathable materials (leather, nylon mesh) to reduce the risk of fungal infections, including athlete’s foot, but this especially holds true in our summer season. Feet rely on sweet to regulate their temperature and keep them cool. Unfortunately, microorganisms thrive on this moisture. Shoes that allow the feet to breathe, though, reduce the risk of athlete’s foot and stinky feet.
- Well-fitting. Your child needs shoes that fit correctly, especially when performing sports that place greater force loads on the lower limbs. Make sure your son or daughter can wiggle his or her toes (which means shoes that are not too tight in the front) and that the heel is firmly cradled (which means the feet will not slide around inside). A proper fit can help prevent toe issues, ankle injuries, and a range of other common foot and ankle concerns.
Picking the right shoes for summer sports is a key component of smart foot health. Ensure that your child’s feet and ankles are protected and supported by well-constructed footwear that fits correctly and you will reduce the risk that her or she develops a lower limb issue.
That said, footwear choices are only a starting point. Some of the other best injury prevention tips for their lower limbs include:
- Start out slow. If it has been a while since your child was last active, they need to start out slowly and pace themselves at first. Going full speed for extended periods on the soccer field or basketball court could be a recipe for injury!
- Warm up and stretch. Prior to any game, be sure children take time for a proper warmup and some dynamic stretching. Preparing their bodies for action will keep them safe once the starting whistle blows!
- Don’t push through injury. Sorry, Coach, but “rub some dirt on it” is definitely an antiquated notion! If a child is hurt, he or she needs to step away from the game and give his or her body time to heal. This will prevent the injury from becoming more severe and reduce the odds of developing a long-term problem.
In addition to prevention measures, it’s also important to understand at least a little basic first aid – and especially for how to treat an ankle sprain!
Summer sports and running around outside do increase the chance of children spraining their ankle. If children show symptoms of a sprained ankle, including pain, soreness, swelling and difficulty walking, use the RICE treatment method— Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation—to give the ankle time to heal and prevent injury reoccurrence.
Remember, sprains that are not adequately rehabilitated (along with repeated sprains) can cause chronic ankle instability.
Whether you would like additional injury prevention tips, so your child can stay safe on the field—or you need to bring a son or daughter in for professional treatment to resolve an existing injury—our team at Heartland Foot and Ankle Associates is here to help.
Contact us today for more information or to request an appointment by calling 309-661-9975. If you’d prefer, you can connect with our Bloomington, IL office online right now.