Posted from Kingston Foot Clinic....where some of our consultants work:
So, you might have seen some things in the media (see the attached article) recently on the benefits of kids being barefoot. The barefoot movement was big in sports until there was a lawsuit for bad claims and a heap of injuries. So it appears, kids are next to be targeted.
Now don't get us wrong, we LOVE kids being barefoot. But being barefoot has its place. Shoes protect us from the ground, and there is little research on shoe effect in kids because you'd have to follow them for a long time to really understand what the effect is. The current research being promoted would have you thinking shoes cause all sorts of weakness however, there are flaws in the research design.
Particularly, the research hasn't considered that there are different foot types, some foot types make muscles work differently to others. As people, we are also different, some of us are stretchier than others, some get stronger quicker etc. This is because as people, we are all different, which means sometimes the advice (and shoe advice) is different.
The happy happy medium is for your child to be barefoot when they aren't going to have their toes trod on or stomp on something that may cut their foot. Have a shoe that fits well and if your child has feet that run and play with no pain, the softer shoe is fine. If your child has feet that get sore when running, then a shoe with a harder sole may help reduce that. If your child has pain even with more structured shoes, then best to see your podiatrist.
Here is the article that has sparked the discussion: