October is International Walk to School Month

The California Podiatric Medical Association (CPMA) Offers Kids' Footwear Tips to Help Make Walking to School a Healthy, Fun Habit!

October is International Walk to School Month (National Walk to School Week is October 2 – October 6, and Walk to School Day is Wednesday, October 4.)

Walking to school is not only good for the health of the planet by helping to reduce the carbon footprint by decreasing the number of cars on the road, congestion, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter, it also has a positive impact on children’s health and overall wellbeing.

Many children are not getting the exercise they need, which the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) says should be at least one hour of physical activity each day.  


“Less active children are more likely to be at increased risk of obesity and chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, asthma, and various cancers in adulthood,” says California Podiatric Medical Association (CPMA) President Diane Koshimune Guadron, DPM. 

"Walking to school is a great way to add healthy steps to the day, encourage healthy habits at a young age, and contribute to healthy weight, improved cardiovascular health, bone and muscle strength, sleep, mood, and academic performance. Regular physical activity can also help to reduce the risk of such chronic diseases as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer in the future,” said Dr. Koshimune Guadron, a podiatric foot and ankle specialist and surgeon affiliated with
the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Jose, CA.

“Walking can be an invigorating way to start the school day, and proper footwear, fit, and comfort are vital for making walking a pleasurable experience and lifelong habit. Care should be taken with purchasing shoes, especially for children whose feet are still developing,” says Dr. Koshimune Guadron, who offered the following tips for buying footwear for children: 

·   Visit a podiatric foot and ankle specialist (aka Doctor of Podiatric Medicine [DPM])to examine children's feet to ensure they are developing normally and for an evaluation of the child's gait so that corrective measures can be implemented early. DPMs can also make shoe recommendations for the shape of the child's foot and gait.

·    Buy shoes in the afternoon. Feet tend to expand throughout the day.

·    If the child wears prescription orthotics - biomechanical inserts prescribed by a podiatric physician – they should be taken along for footwear fittings.

·    Ask if the store has a trained footwear fitter.

·    The child’s foot should be sized while he or she is standing up and fully weight-bearing.

·    Always have both feet measured for length; if they are two different sizes, shoes should be chosen that fit the larger foot best.

·    Examine the shoe itself. It should have a firm heel counter (stiff material on either side of the heel), adequate cushioning of the insole, and a built-in arch. It should be flexible enough to bend where the foot bends - at the ball of the foot, not in the middle of the shoe.

·    A newly fitted shoe should be approximately ½ inch longer than the longest toe. The child should be able to comfortably wiggle his or her toes in the shoe.

·    Have the child walk around the store in the shoes and wear the socks that they will be wearing with the shoes. Ask the child if he or she feels any pressure spots in the shoe. Feel the inside of the shoe for any staples or irregularities that could cause irritation. Examine where the inside stitching hits the foot. Look for signs of irritation on the foot after the shoe is worn. This is especially true for those with diabetes.

·    Avoid slip-on shoes. Shoes should be held on the foot with laces, straps, or Velcro fastenings.

·    Heel height should be no more than 1.5 inches, lower for younger children.

·    The heel should have a broad base and be made from a shock-absorbing material.

·    Natural material uppers are best, i.e., leather.

·    The toe area of the shoe should be foot-shaped and deep enough to allow the toes to move freely and not be squashed.

·    Shoes should be comfortable at the time of purchase and not need "breaking in."

To find a local licensed podiatric foot and ankle specialist (Doctor of Podiatric Medicine) visit www.calpma.org

Founded in 1912, the California Podiatric Medical Association (CPMA) is the leading and recognized professional organization for California’s doctors of podiatric medicine (DPMs). DPMs are podiatric physicians and surgeons (also known as podiatrists)are qualified by their long and rigorous medical education, training, and experience to diagnose and treat conditions affecting the foot, ankle, and structures of the lower leg.