Depending on your age or where you live, you might know them as flip flops, jandals, BBs, pluggers, or thongs.
Whatever you call them, one of the most common questions we hear in our podiatry clinic is: “Are thongs bad for your feet?”
Australians Love Their Thongs!
Here in Australia, our climate means that we appreciate convenience, coolness, breathability, and comfort, in our clothing and footwear choices.
Add to that our casual lifestyle and love of the beach, and you can see why thongs could almost be part of our national costume!
But is our love of thongs actually doing us harm?
Common Problems with Thongs
Some people have trouble tolerating thongs over long distances or periods of time. This is usually because their calves are tight and shorter than normal, or they have less flexibility in their lower back. This is not the fault of the thongs, rather, it’s the individual’s unique anatomy.
We often see clients at our podiatry clinic, complaining of sore feet after taking a couple of weeks’ holiday. They may even blame it on their thongs, saying things like:
- “The feeling between my toes makes me feel ill”;
- “I had to claw with my toes to grip my thongs”;
- “I think I alter my walking pattern in thongs, maybe that’s why my feet are sore?”.
In fact, the culprit is not so much wearing thongs, but rather, the sudden change in footwear.
In the working world, we tend to wear more supportive shoes such as steel cap boots and lace ups, t-bar or mary jane styles.
However when we are on holidays, we suddenly switch to thongs – and our muscles, ligaments and tendons are not conditioned to this completely different style of footwear. Our feet have to work harder when we walk in thongs, which can lead to muscle strain and pain.
Should I Wear Thongs?
Wearing thongs comes down to things such as your individual:
- Lifestyle, and activities – wear enclosed shoes, with cushioned soles, and preferably lace ups that have been scientifically proven to give you the most support, if you are planning a big day of walking, for example;
- Health – some diabetics have little to no feeling in their toes and feet, so we recommend closed in footwear to protect them from injury;
- Mobility and flexibility;
- Lower limb mechanics;
- And of course, personal style choices.
In days gone by, thongs were just flat pieces of rubber with straps – even now, if you can bend your thong in half in your hand, more than likely it is not doing much for your feet.
Are thongs bad for your feet? Like so many things in life, moderation is key. If you wear thongs a lot, make sure they are good quality ones. Look for a sturdier make, and for features such as molded arch contours, or a cup in the heel to stabilise and support.
At Trevor Lane Podiatry, we understand that wearing thongs is part and parcel of our great Aussie Aussie lifestyle, so we stock Orthaheel thongs for men, women and children, as well as Vionic Beach.
And here’s a little secret – you don’t have to be afraid to mention thongs at our podiatry clinic – because our podiatrists wear them sometimes too!