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The Lowdown on Little Running Shoes

Are running shoes for kids worth the price?

More and more footwear companies are releasing shoes for kids based off the adult versions of the same model. Is this a marketing ploy, appealing to running parents who think it’s cute to have a “Mini-Me?” Or are these shoes worth the sticker price?

It’s the latter. While materials are often durable to withstand the rigors of being a kid, mini versions of adult shoes assure you that your children aren’t wrecking their feet when they run.

Shoes for kids up to age 5 should be completely flexible (think sock-like) to allow constant growth and strengthening. “But as kids enter school and begin sports and higher-level activities, there’s a necessity for protection,” says Eric Rohr, Brooks Running’s senior biomechanical engineer.

However, that doesn’t mean kids should be put in combat boots, or even stability shoes. Kids’ feet grow and change in length, width, girth and arch shape up until roughly the age of 13.

“Patterns, materials and closures need to be carefully selected in an effort to support a child’s growing and changing foot,” says Scarlett Batchelor, New Balance Kids’ Business Unit Manager.

And don’t put your kid on the treadmill at the running shop just yet. “Unless a kid has any pain or problems, or is logging extreme miles,” says Rohr, “a gait analysis is probably unnecessary until their teenage years.”

Bottom line: Having kids—especially ones who run in an after-school program or races of any kind—in shoes made for running can help mitigate pain and potential problems. It can also help with their running, as well as make them feel fast like Mom and Dad.

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