How to promote the healthy development of children’s feet
The legs are the foundation of the musculoskeletal system. To serve them well, they need proper footwear and plenty of exercise. Otherwise, their muscles weaken, they don’t hold the heel straight, and this causes the knees to buckle and the back to arch. Eventually, every movement hurts and the whole body suffers.
1. Proper footwear
The choice of shoes is, of course, the responsibility of the parents. But daily observations in the kindergarten show that some could use a little advice. So now we’re going to give you a little sneak peek.
Children’s shoes should properly:
- correspond to the length and width of the foot,
- allow toes room in the toe (wider shape without lifting, 10-15 mm oversize),
- allow the forefoot to bend, especially at the metatarsal joints,
- hold the heel in the correct position with a firm arch support,
- fix the foot by lacing or Velcro fastening, etc.
- be made of breathable materials (upper and insole ideally made of textile or leather).
The only way to be sure is to buy shoes with a giraffe tag. This indicates that these shoes have been awarded the Giraffe certificate because they meet the requirements for hygienic and orthopedic safety.
2. Exercise as prevention
Even without podiatric certification, you can work with children to strengthen weak muscles, stretch shortened tendons or prevent arch collapse. In addition to running, jumping and climbing, it is good to include in the exercise plan:
- stretching your toes into a fan,
- carrying small objects with your toes,
- walking on the toes, heels and outer edges of the feet,
- walking on all fours on the bear with outstretched limbs,
- jumping frogs,
- jumping with the ball between the knees,
- pedaling a bicycle while lying down.
Get your children moving in the fresh air by following the advice in the article
How to do outdoor learning activities for preschoolers.
If you have enough exercise equipment in your classroom, try the following exercises. Always pay attention to posture and correct execution of the exercises.
Walking on a stretched jump rope
Straighten your back and keep your head upright. When walking on the jump rope, keep your feet flat so that the toes and heels do not turn sideways.
Squeezing the foam ball
Sit down and straighten your back. Bend your legs, bring your feet together and keep your knees apart. Alternate squeezing and releasing the foam ball between your feet.
Rolling the overball
Lie down and press your hips to the ground. Lift your legs up towards the ceiling. Place the overball between your ankles and try to roll it around.
Hugging the ball
Lie down on the floor. With your arms and legs, wrap your arms around a large exercise ball, leaning right and left with it. The head follows the center of the ball and does not overtake the movement of the body.
Obstacle course with balancing lenses
Build an obstacle course and incorporate a transition through balancing lenses on which children practice balance and body coordination.
TIP: And one more playful exercise. When changing clothes, invite the children to take off their socks without using their hands, using only the toe of the other foot.
3. Barefoot trail
If you have special massage pads, orthopedic floors or tactile floor discs in your classroom, it’s time to get them out of the closet. However, you can also put together a sensory walkway with whatever you have on hand.
Outdoors, stimulate children’s feet by walking barefoot on a variety of soft and uneven natural surfaces. Use the surfaces available in the school garden, from the lawn to the sandpit to the mud pit. Avoid paved walkways and other flat hard surfaces. You can also try the Kneipp water therapy trail.
Prepare two large plastic boxes, fill one with warm and the other with cold water. Invite the children to tread water in the warm pool for a few seconds and then move to the cold pool. Take several turns, ending in the cold water.
Remember your feet also when relaxing together. Toast them for carrying you all day long. As a thank you:
- a word to your feet and wish them good health,
- give your feet the warmth of your hands rubbing together quickly,
- massage your feet with scented oil,
- massage your feet with massage tools,
- sitting up and swinging the leg curled in the lap.
The feet must not be idle. In order for them to function well and carry us through life, they need to be taken care of. Therefore, teach children in kindergarten how to give their feet care and exercise. One day they will thank you for it.
21. 8. 2023 | Martina Zatloukalová