A Guide to Trainers & Plimsolls - Society of Shoe Fitters

Please note that the following has been written in response to some misinformed schools insisting that plimsolls are worn all day – often to protect their carpeting, and without regard to their student’s feet and foot health.

There is nothing wrong with plimsolls or trainers being worn in the right conditions and for the right purpose.

You should always “wear the right shoes for the right occasion” and then whatever the type of footwear, they will perform correctly and in accordance with their design and manufacture.

Manufacturers of exercise footwear i.e. trainers, create them to be used in specific conditions for specific sports, and a tremendous amount of research goes into their design. However, because of sportswear becoming an integral
part of “street fashion” and also that they appear to fit and feel comfortable instantly (due to the amount of padding inside them), their popularity has soared. It has been easy for “cheaply made / unbranded” trainers to fill any retail outlet that chooses to sell them, their accessibility increasing their popularity. The truth is that worn all day every day, they can be harmful to your feet and general health. Feet may widen and become flaccid, and should you wish to go back to wearing structured footwear, you may suffer for a while.


Children’s health is more important than floors!

Well fitting shoes for all day please, and plimsolls, trainers and wellies for sport /occasional wear.


Here are the facts…
1) Plimsolls are only available in a single (average) fitting and in most cases, whole sizes only.

2) Surveys indicate that only 28% of children have “average” fitting feet. Seven children in ten will therefore be forced to wear plimsolls that are too narrow, too wide, too short or too long. Not detrimental for short periods like a P.E. lesson or exercising, but extremely unwise for longer periods.

3) The soles of plimsolls are not as strong as that of normal shoes. Sharp objects can potentially penetrate the sole, puncturing the foot which could lead to a serious infection.

4) Most basic plimsolls have elasticised gussets, rather than laces, to make it easier for the child or teacher to take them off or put them on. The lack of an adjustable fastening reduces the effective fit of the plimsolls. This often means that the plimsolls are purchased too tight or too large. Too large means the child will curl their toes (claw toes) to keep them on. Too tight means toes will be squashed together which will not only affect development of the foot but can lead to circulatory problems.

5) Plimsolls are rarely designed to include, nor will the style normally allow for “growing room”, usually built into children’s shoes.

6) By school age a child’s foot contains 45 separate bone centres. These bones fuse together continuously until at least the mid teens forming the 26 bones in a normal adult foot. The bones have not fully ossified (become completely
hardened) until around the age of eighteen.

7) Feet contain approx. 250,000 sweat glands – more per square centimetre than any other part of our body, and they release an eggcup full of perspiration each day, therefore the effects of wearing a plimsoll or training shoe for prolonged periods are:-

a) Bacteriological breakdown of perspiration trapped in the thick padded lining of trainers, increasing foot and shoe odour.

b) Hot wet feet – increasing the risk of skin disorders and creating idealconditions for fungal infections to develop i.e. Athlete’s foot. (Remember mushrooms are a fungi, and they grow in dark, warm damp conditions!)

8) Do up your trainer laces!!!! The fashion not to tie laces and merely tuck them behind the tongue has caused many serious accidents through tripping or getting them caught up. It is not cool to miss football practise with a broken
arm or leg!!! Why slow yourself down?