If this title caught your attention, then we know exactly what you’re hoping for. That this article backed by new research has confirmed that, in fact, that thongs are the best thing since sliced bread. We’re sorry to disappoint you – but that is not the case. That doesn’t stop us loving and wearing them! But we don’t have any foot problems, do you?
If your answer is yes, please avoid thongs unless you’re at the beach. To explain why, we’re going to get real and personal with you today. Here we go.
Imagine your foot on a flat plank. Think about your foot and ankle and how they’re free to roll around, twist and turn, and do whatever they like with no support structure to help them move effectively. There are no mechanisms to stop the ankle from rolling, there’s nothing to help conserve energy so you can keep going for longer, there’s nothing to help absorb shock to reduce the stress on your bones, joints, muscles or tissues. There is just nothing.
Or even a steak for that matter. Just like you have to eat something, you have to wear something on your feet when you go outside (to not risk burning your feet on the ground in this heat!). You have the choice of an average hamburger – no cheese, minimal vegetables aside from pickles, nutritional level – questionable at best. Or right beside it in your closet or your shoe rack, you have a hearty, juicy, grill’d burger with vegetables and nutrients to boot. Don’t like burgers? It could be a steak. It’s already there, waiting and ready. You could choose it, knowing it’s going to be much better for you and help you feel better throughout the day, but you don’t. You choose the hamburger. While it doesn’t seem like a big deal now, over time, those hamburgers add up and things start to go wrong.
During a natural step, your foot goes through the process of rolling in slightly as it lands, and rolling out slightly before it takes off to take the next step. This is essential for effective gait, as it helps us absorb shock, adapt to uneven ground, and retain maximum energy to propel ourselves forward and keep going step after step, every single day. Of course, it’s a lot more complicated than that, but that’s just the overview.
However, some of us have much flatter feet than others – and others have a much higher arch. When we have flat feet, our foot will roll all the way down if it is allowed to and not stopped by the cushioning support from our shoes. Now, if your foot is flat on the ground, it’s going to make other muscles work a lot harder to get it to roll out and up off the ground for you to take that next step, right? Absolutely. When that happens at every step, for 10,000 steps per day, you can bet that it all adds up. And it adds up to pain and an increased injury risk.
On the contrary, if you have higher arched feet, you tend to not roll down so much. This doesn’t allow your foot to effectively adapt to uneven ground and absorb shock, so you get more shock and ground reaction forces moving up through the musculature and bones of your feet. Again, that equals tired, achy legs.
With a fantastic lead-in from the last two points, when your muscles and tissues are being overused and are taking more impact, they become weaker. Your calves and achilles tendon are also being strained more than usual as there is no small heel to relieve some of the tension. Your toes are often in a claw-like grip because thongs don’t have a secure fastening mechanism that’ll keep the shoe safely on your feet. When they get wet. You can slip out of them, or slip forwards into them and cause pain between the first two toes. You can get cuts, scratches, and glass and sharp objects can get between the bottom of your foot and the thong. With that being said, nails can pierce thongs – and your foot. We can go on and on. There are actually so many ways that thongs are worse than wearing good, supportive shoes.
The bottom line is simply this. Speaking as Podiatrists, if you’re going to be walking for over a kilometre, please don’t wear thongs. Keep your feet and legs and healthy and pain-free for as long as possible. If you’re going to the beach, wear thongs. They’ll keep your feet from burning on the sand. So will thick socks. There’s no difference between the two really.
We say all of this and write blogs like these because we generally care about your health and well-being. You’d be amazed at the number of people who have gone on to develop terrible foot pain after years of walking around unsupported – in thongs. It is our job to educate, inform and give real advice. This is it.
Whether you wear thongs or not – have a very Merry Christmas! If you do have any aches or problems with your feet, get in touch with our team by calling 1300-FX-FEET or book online here.