The Society of Shoe Fitters have announced that it will be launching National Shoe Fitting Week on Friday 3rd April 2020. The SSF wants to raise national awareness of the importance of well-fitting footwear and the vital service independent shoe retailers, like Little Wanderers on Tonge Moor Road, Bolton, provide to the public.

Few people realise that putting a child in ill-fitting shoes can damage their health in later life and this is not good for them. Whilst vast amounts of money are spent in educating people to look after themselves nutritionally and physically, little effort is made to educate them on the importance of foot health. Feet are therefore crammed into the most unsuitably shaped shoes, made with inferior materials which then become quickly misshapen and uncomfortable. For a child this is particularly dangerous as their bones and gait are developing. It is proven footwear can cause long-term damage – some problems visible immediately, some developing over time.

The bones in our feet are really delicate in childhood and can be misshapen. Few bones are present in a baby’s foot and they grow throughout childhood. They do not ossify (harden) until mid-teenage, then as we grow older our bones continue to change shape throughout our lifetime.

A shoe size is just the starting point – the Last shape, where the shoe is made, the materials, the construction method, the heel height, etc. all affect the fit of a shoe. Fitting gauges are all calibrated differently and shouldn’t be compared against each other. Only a qualified shoe fitter can assess which shoe fits best by knowing their stock and trying on various styles to see which fits best (taking into account lots of factors). The best fit may not be the size given on the gauge.

The Society’s Secretary, Laura West, explains “Footwear is wrongly treated as merely an accessory, but it is vitally important as it’s the only item of clothing that can seriously damage your health in the long term. Independent shops are the only ones offering a good, in some cases professional individual ‘fitting’ service. Parents think they are doing the right thing having feet measured and then try to buy cheaper elsewhere, what they don’t realise is that all gauges are calibrated differently and the size the gauge says is merely a starting point to a qualified or experienced shoe fitter. We hope everyone will support National Shoe Fitting Week to educate the public to support their local shoe shop.”

As a member of the Society of Shoe Fitters and an independent Children’s shoe shop, which has been approved for the Children’s Foot Health Register, Little Wanderers will be backing this campaign to raise the importance of having correctly fitted shoes and supporting local businesses.