The do’s and don’ts of wearing a great Aussie tradition – Thongs.

The do’s and don’ts of wearing a great Aussie tradition – Thongs.

Summer is coming – and the thongs are coming out…

Thongs are polarizing.   You either love them or hate them.  But there is no denying they are iconic Australian footwear.  No other nation quite does them justice.  And don’t get me started on the flip-flop/jandal debate!  It wouldn’t be summer in Australia without them.  But are they the best footwear ever invented – or the worst?  Turns out, maybe a little bit of both!

Thongs are easy to slip on and off, lightweight, and cool in the midst of scorching summer temperatures.  However, wearing thongs makes your feet work harder.  Muscles have to strain to keep the thongs on your feet – you’ve probably noticed how your toes ‘grip’ as you walk.  Is this strain a good thing or a bad thing?

Recent research from Sydney University suggests that wearing thongs can actually be good for children’s feet, as they are still developing.  The research found that wearing thongs was actually close to being barefoot, and helps build muscle in the developing foot of children and young teens.

However, in adults, whose feet are fully developed, this muscle strain can lead to an imbalance in your foot.  Over time it can lead to conditions like plantar fasciitis, shin splints, bunions and hammer toes.

People who have a good arch in their foot will generally be OK wearing thongs.  However, those of you out there with flat feet – be warned!  The tendons and muscles of our flat-footed friends already have to work harder to stabilize the foot.  The extra stress wearing thongs places on these feet can cause a great deal of pain.

Even if you have a great arch, I’m sure we have all fallen victim to the early summer sunburn on newly exposed feet.  Painful and debilitating.  Not to mention that annoying blister between your toes.  Wearers beware!

So, if you REALLY REALLY can’t do without your thongs – what do you do?

  1. Limit wearing your thongs to days when you won’t be on your feet or walking too much – maybe alternate days. As with most things, moderation is the key.
  2. Choose thongs that provide a stonger sole, arch support and a heel cup. There are a few brands that do this – talk to a podiatrist about which thongs would be best for you.
  3. Make sure your thongs fit you properly – toes should not be hanging over the edge or the front.
  4. If you have flat feet – consider mixing it up with some sandals that provide support via a tongue or heel strap.
  5. In early summer, make sure your slip slop slap routine extends to the tops of your feet!
  6. For kids – try and get thongs with a back strap if possible to help secure heir feet, especially for very young children.

All that being said – there are some instances where a nice pair of rubber thongs is a must: lounging by the pool at that luxury resort, traipsing across the hot sand at the beach (or the burning road on the way back to your car) and last, but certainly not least – in public pools and shower rooms.  Nobody wants warts or fungal infections that can come from those environments.

At Precision Health Spine & Sports Clinic, our Podiatrist is happy to give you some advice on the best thong options for you.  Call the clinic on (02) 9639 7337 to make an appointment, or call in to look at our range of recommended thongs.

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