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Are Thongs Bad for Your Feet?

Ahh summer. Sunscreen, singlets, boardshorts and thongs. It’s that moment you decide it’s time to throw the winter slippers towards the back of the cupboard and retrieve the thongs to leave by the front door…warm season bliss.

We Aussies wear thongs…a lot. Most places that experience summers like ours do the same. Unfortunately, this might be doing long-term damage to our feet.

“Why!” I hear you scream. “Not the humble thong!” I hear you plead. Sorry to say folks, but any footwear with such little support, worn over long periods of time, is going to cause correlating problems in your feet and other parts of your lower body.

Some of the medical views on the summer footwear staple are extremely damning, with some arguing it’s better to go bare foot and unprotected due to the hip, knee and back injuries caused by wearing thongs over long periods of one’s life. One of the most common conditions caused by wearing thongs regularly is planter fasciitis, an inflammation of the tissue in the bottom of the foot which, in extreme cases, is debilitating.

The science behind what’s happening is that thongs can actually alter the way you walk. Shorter strides cause our toes to crunch up tightly to hang on to the sandal. That combined with repeated unsupported foot landings on hard ground, leads to hip, knee, back and foot pain.

Our love of the thong has led to it being used in ways it wasn’t really designed for says Dr. Christina S. Long, Podiatrist and foot and ankle surgeon at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in the US:

“Flip-flops don’t offer any arch or heel support, and you have to grip them with your toes to keep them on. Wearing them for too long or for the wrong activity can cause a lot of different problems.”

Is your summer ruined? Do you have to break up with your favourite pair of summer foot buddies? No, far from it. You just have to remember how to wear your favourite pair of flip flops and your feet and lower limbs will thank you for it. Like chocolate and wine, thongs are fine in moderation.

We would caution that if you plan on wearing thongs, shop for brands that offer arch support, and don’t wear them for long periods of time. Going to the beach, around the pool, short trips to the shops, gym change rooms etc. are fine.

If you develop unexplained pain in other parts of your body, like your back, always consider your feet as a possible source. Wearing shoes with little to no arch support can cause overuse of tendons and muscles not only in your feet, but also in hips, ankles, knees, and back.

At ProMed we stock the Vionic brand of thongs that provides arch support and comes in both men’s and women’s options. There are a range a beautiful colours and designs. Drop to and take a look and get in touch with us if you have any questions! ❤️👣

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