Now that spring is here, many of our kids will be diving into new sports, including track, tennis, soccer and more. Of course, you want their feet to be supported, and you want to help them avoid athletic injuries during game play. So, how can you pick the best sports shoes for kids? What features are must-haves, and what should you avoid at all cost when selecting children's athletic shoes? Here's what you need to know!

Best Sports Shoes for Kids: Start with the Basics

Like all kids' shoes, children's athletic shoes need to support your youngster's feet while allowing them to move comfortably. To begin with, the fit must be perfect. (Otherwise, your kids are at risk for everything from blisters and ingrown toenails to ankle sprains and more.) And one of the best ways to ensure proper shoe fit in kids is to have their feet measured, in person, and at the end of the day, when their feet are at their biggest due to the normal, mild swelling that occurs throughout the day.

Next, no matter what sport your child plays, any shoe you select should have these features that help them support and protect kids' feet without wearing out too quickly. 

1. Look for sports shoes for kids that have a supportive, solid midsole.

2. The shoes' outsoles should be made of rubber for added durability and protection.

3. Ideally, the shoes will be stitched around the bumper in the toe, since this extends their shelf life.

4. Look for a reinforced shoe upper, so that your child's foot won't slip around during sports play.

5. Shoe liners should be removable. This will make it easier to wash the shoes and prevent athlete's foot in kids. Plus, it will make it easier for your child to wear their custom orthotics if that is what our kids podiatrist in Powder Springs recommends.

Choosing Specific Sports Shoes for Kids kids soccer cleat and soccer ball

Now that you've got an idea of the basic features to look for in children's athletic shoes, it's time to focus on sport-specific features kids shoes should have. Make sure not to overlook this step. Because different athletic activities make different demands on children's feet. So choosing the shoe with the child's sport in mind will help prevent injury and even improve athletic performance!

Running Shoes for Kids

If your child will be doing cross-country or other running-heavy sports, here's what to look for in athletic shoes. First, look for a shoe with a stable midsole that isn't too stiff. You'll also want lightweight shoe cushioning in a running sneaker. (That will help reduce the impact of running on your child's feet.) Finally, running shoes for kids should have a good amount of flexibility, so that their feet can move naturally as they stride.

Soccer Sneakers for Children

If your child's spring sports shoes will be used on turf or grass, look for pairs with botttom cleats to prevent slips and falls. (Bonus: studded cleats can also help spread the impact of athletic play evenly across your child's foot. In turn, you reduce your child's risk for an overuse injury.) Also, fit is very important in soccer cleats. Don't leave more than a thumb's worth of space between the end of your child's big toe and the edge of the cleat. Otherwise, your child's foot will slide in the cleat and slam into the shoe's stiff structure, increasing the risk of injury and ingrown toenails.

Sports Shoes for Kids: Footwear for Tennis Players

If your child is hitting the tennis courts this spring, there are several features to look for when choosing their footwear. First, look for shoes with flexibility on the sides. This will allow kids to navigate the lateral movement that's key to the sport. Next, look for tennis shoes with extra durability, since playing on hard-surfaced courts wear shoes down at a faster pace. Cushioning will also be important for kids playing tennis on hard surface courts, to reduce the impact of play on their feet. Finally, consider selecting pairs with non-marking outsoles, in case that's a requirement on the courts where their match play happens.

Proper Foot Care for Active Children

While choosing sport-specific footwear for your children can help prevent athletic injuries, even the best sports shoes for kids can't always keep foot pain at bay. So, what should you do if your young athlete gets hurt during the big game? Or if he or she complains of foot pain during or after sports practice or athletic matches?

Here's the deal. Your child's foot should never hurt. Pain is not a sign of normal development in kids. Instead, it's almost always a sign of a problem, whether that's the fit of a shoe; an overly challenging training schedule; or a developing injury. (In fact, sporty kids are at risk for a specific injury called Sever's disease.)

As such, if your active child is complaining of foot or heel pain, listen to what he or she is saying! Make sure the child takes an immediate break from all athletic activities. Next, during this rest period, try icing and elevating the affected foot. If your child's pain resolves in a day or two, you may not need to take further action. But, if the pain persists? Or, if the pain resumes when your child gets back into action? Now's the time for a longer break from athletic activity. And it's also time to make an appointment with Dr. Alvin Cowans, a sports podiatrist for kids in the Lost Mountain neighborhood of Powder Springs, GA. When you come in with your child, he'll determine the source of the problem, and come up with a plan to safely get him or her back in the game!