Bad news, parents: if you use the 'thumb test' for testing shoe sizing, you're doing it wrong

Picture: Getty Images
Picture: Getty Images 

Have you checked the fit of your kids' shoes lately?

Chances are they could be due for a new pair, with a recent survey finding up to two thirds of kids are wearing shoes that are too small. 

And it makes for more than just uncomfortable wear - ill-fitting shoes can have the potential to cause irreversible foot damage.

If your instinct to check the fit was to go to use your thumb, we have bad news. The method is apparently inaccurate, with kids likely to reflexively pull their toes back - making us think they have more room than they do.  

The research, from BlitzResults.com, found 67 per cent of kids are squeezing their feet into the wrong size. While the majority (48 per cent) are only one size too small - just under 20 per cent of kids need to upsize by two sizes. 

While 33 per cent are wearing the right size - only 10 per cent of these have room left to grow. 

The survey asked close to 2,800 parents about their kids foot length and shoe size, which were then accurately measured and the results compared. 

Of the parents involved, 52 per cent admitted they'd never measured the length, and used visual guides to test the sizing. 

Blitzresults put the number of children suffering from irreversible foot damage at 30 per cent (based on National Health Institute Figures).

To avoid these, the site offered tips to ensuring parents find the perfect fit.

  • Measure both feet but use the measurement from the longer foot - there can often be as much as half an inch difference between feet.
  • Be aware sizing varies between brands, so never rely solely on the sizing of their previous pair. 
  • Leave at least half an inch of room in new shoes so kids can roll their feet properly when walking.
  • Check their sizing regularly, roughly every two months - kids may not realise or tell you their feet are uncomfortable. 

'Tricks' to avoid when fitting shoes: 

  • Hold shoe to foot - this is because the length on the inside of the shoe can't be estimated from the outside and will often be shorter than expected. 
  • The thumb test - One many parents are guilty of, however as kids tend to draw their toes up on reflex, parents can believe they have more room than they do.  
  • The heel test - kids will often push their feet forward.
  • Using a stencil for size comparison. The comparison can be imprecise. Instead, use an insole if available. a
  • Asking kids how th fit feels. The nerves in kids feet aren't fully developed and they often won't be aware if a shoe doesn't fit.