Interview with Dr. Micha Bahr, Specialist for Paediatric Surgery and Manual Medicine

Chil­dren’s feet are not just the mini version of adult feet, they are much more exacting. That’s why LOWA has a special kids last that provi­des more space in the toe area. Child­ren require this space at the front of their shoes to ensure the heal­thy growth of their feet. That’s because child­ren’s bone tissue is not yet fully deve­lo­ped, and their liga­ments are still signi­fi­cantly more elastic. They also expe­ri­ence consi­dera­bly less pain, because their nerves have not yet matu­red.

Roughly 25%

of the bones in a human body are found in the feet. But in children this bone tissue is not yet fully developed. Added to this is the fact that chil­dren’s ligaments are still signi­ficantly more elastic and their sensation of pain is less well developed.

In collab­oration with Director of Paediatric and Adolescent Surgery at Klinikum Ingolstadt, Dr. Micha Bahr LOWA has developed the models LEDRO GTX MID JUNIOR and LEDRO GTX LO JUNIOR.

  • Image photo with the LEDRO GTX MID JUNIOR, LOWA Kids Kampagne 2019

Dr. Micha Bahr,

in the last few years, you worked with LOWA to develop the chil­dren’s boot LEDRO GTX MID JUNIOR. Were you satisfied with the result?

Dr. Micha Bahr: I was more than pleased with the result because this boot fulfils all of the criteria we requested. This includes for example optimum push-off flex­ibility, a perfect fit at the ankle and ankle support, good wiggle room for toes and, last but not least, an overall kid-oriented fit. But what is ulti­mately important is not what we as adults and advisors think about the shoe, rather, how it is received by the kids. They were in fact thrilled. That was proof positive that LOWA perfectly and correctly realised the concept.

As the second step, now, a LOW-CUT shoe is being added to the line. To what have you paid particular attention here?

Dr. Micha Bahr: In a LOW-CUT, the ankle support is just as important as with a MID- or HIGH-CUT model. However, it is much more difficult to achieve. Never­theless, I think that we have succeeded at it quite well. With a LOW-CUT shoe, the use is of course also different. Here, too, points such as weight still play a role. Apart from that, the same high demands as with a MID-CUT model are still important, such as cush­ioning, toe wiggle room, and push-off flex­ibility.

Why is it so important that footwear for children is developed? Could you not simply make adults shoes smaller?

Dr. Micha Bahr: This is precisely what happened for years and it is still common at many brands. However, we are talking about an organism that is growing and that is unfor­tu­nately still malleable. The needs are thus totally different. Not least because children also move much more “primally” outdoors. Children run with a much better push-off, and their gear must also adapt to that. In addition, liga­mentous structure is still soft and at more risk as with adults, which is why it must be given more support without of course limiting freedom of movement.

  • Image photo with the LEDRO GTX MID JUNIOR, LOWA Kids Kampagne 2019
Image photo with the ARCO GTX® MID JUNIOR, Kids Testing

“When you look closely at the LEDRO GTX MID JUNIOR kid’s shoe with these consid­er­ations in mind, you determine that it really is a high-end product.”

Dr. Micha Bahr

What tips do you have for parents when it comes down to finding the right footwear for their children?

Dr. Micha Bahr: In general, when it comes to kids, it comes down to special consid­er­ations: A shoe cannot be too large, but it also cannot be too small. Therefore, I advise parents to remove the footbed from the shoe and let the child stand on it on the floor. In this case, there should be about a kid’s thumb width of room between the big toe and the end of the footbed. Then, I also advise that they twist the footbed once to see how soft it is. If it is too easily twisted, then the shoe goes right back on the wall. Then, you need to ask the child to move its toes in the shoe. When that is still possible, then the shoe fits perfectly. Children have the automatic reflex to curl their toes in different movement situ­ations. In order to make that possible, they need sufficient room in the toe box. Of course, in the end it comes down to whether the child likes the shoe – because otherwise we as parents have no chance it will actually be worn.