Are thongs bad for your feet?
Even though I see many clients each week who develop foot problems while wearing thongs it amazes me that so many people still LOVE to wear them.
My own Grandfather very rarely wore anything else than his "Tropical Safety Boots" once he retired from work.
I can still see him working in his beloved shed, grinding, sawing and building while wearing his tatty blue "double pluggers".
(However, this could have been because he had terrible, thickened toenails from years of kicking a football as a young man.)
Thongs, it seems, have been the Australian summer footwear of choice for decades and a footwear option for the rest of the world for millennia.
The history of the thong
This particular type of footwear originated as early as the Ancient Egyptians in 4000 BC, and the oldest known pair is on display at the British Museum from 1500 BC.
The name “thong’” is only really used in Australia and, what is worth bearing in mind, means a completely different thing when performing a Google image search as I discovered.
The term "flip flop" is mostly used through the rest of the world while Jandle used by our New Zealand cousins over the ditch.
Why do Podiatrists dislike thongs?
There are several problems with standard, flat thongs that contribute to the development of foot problems.
Some of the main issues include:
Thongs are usually too flat which will increase stress in the forefoot and calf muscles with regular use and promote sore, uncomfortable feet.
They encourage your toes to grip and claw to hang onto the thong when you walk. Over long periods of time, the toes can begin to stiffen in this position which can then cause rubbing when you return to closed-in shoes.
Thongs generally offer very little support to your arches and heels and can cause stress in the heels, plantar fascia and arches leading to foot pain.
No protection for feet
They offer very little protection for your feet. If you have a condition like Diabetes, this makes you more vulnerable to traumatic skin damage and subsequent foot infections.
Promote skin damage and changes
Thongs alow the dry summer air to dehydrate your skin and, because they are not shaped like your feet, encourage cracks and splits to develop about your heels which can lead to pain and infections.
Dangerous to wear
Thongs can be very dangerous to wear while driving. While there are no specific road rules that prohibit driving in thongs, the risk of losing control of your car from having footwear loose in the footwell is considerable.
When are thongs OK to wear?
Now, of course, there will always be some situations where wearing thongs are fine.
Thongs are fine to wear to the beach when they are used to protect your feet from the hot sand and are great to use in showers when camping or in not-so-clean hotel accommodation.
The problem is, however, that too many people wear them day in day out and this level of use will cause your feet to experience problems.
Are there any thongs that are better for your feet?
There are different types of thongs on the market that can offer a little more support than the traditional “double pluggers”.
My favourite type of more supportive thongs is the Archies brand of thongs.
These offer arch support, a contoured heel cup and a heel height differential more closely aligned to normal day to shoes.
If you love wearing thongs, something like this is much better for your feet.
As with everything in life, moderation is the key.
If you wear your thongs too much, they are more likely to cause you problems.
We Are Here To Help
If you are experiencing pain or problems in your feet or legs that you think might be caused by your thongs, the first thing to do is book an appointment with one of the Podiatrists at Complete Podiatry for a comprehensive assessment to identify what is causing your pain.
Once this is done, we will develop a structured management plan that outlines our best advice for how to stop your pain and help you to return safely and pain-free to all the activities you enjoy.
I'm so confident we can help with your foot, ankle or leg pain that I'd love to chat with you personally, it's what I'm passionate about!
Yours in helping build amazing life from the feet up.
Director of Complete Podiatry