Sports Podiatry: Are Thongs Bad For My Feet? | Part 1
December 21, 2017
Patient – “Are thongs bad for my feet?”
As a Perth Podiatrist this question and all it’s variations have been asked….over 1000 times – and no I’m not exaggerating. Whether the patient has plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis, an ankle sprain or even oddly an ingrowing toenail – they all ask about thongs! No I’m not upset. I’m eager to educate, so buckle up and lets talk about thongs (or flip flops for our non-Australian counterparts).
This Sports Podiatry blog is going to be a two-part blog. In the first part I’m going to define what a thong is, detail the thongs I’ll be testing and discussing my ‘Perth Podiatrist Thong Testing Procedure’ (PPTTP for short – I’m open to any other acronym suggestions). The chosen thongs will be subjected to the 3 rigorous PPTTP tests in order to find the hero of the heap.
As usual for this shoe series, I’ll be using 7 simple criteria in order to judge my final verdict as well as 3 special ‘PPTTP’ tests detailed at the end of this blog.
The 7 Shoe Criteria are:
Is it comfortable (to me)?
Does it look good (to me)?
Does it bend in the arch?
How light or heavy is it?
Does it have a heel raise?
Does it grip the ground?
How much does it cost?
In the second part, I’m going to do some Christmas shopping and go buy all the thongs I talk about – finally putting them through their paces and more importantly the ‘Perth Podiatrist Thong Testing Procedure’. Hopefully to prove my Perth podiatry skills are as good as my ego would lead me to believe. Spoiler alert – they are.
Before we get too much further – full disclosure: This is not a personal recommendation of a thong/product/activity plan for YOUR feet and any advice on this blog is general in nature. It’s simply a reference of thongs I’m trying with features to look out for that may benefit your desired activity aspirations.
I am going into this article with an open mind about thongs BUT, being a Perth Podiatrist, I do have one quite large pre-existing belief which I need to discuss:
All Thongs are Bad.
As much as I don’t want this to be true – I believe that fundamentally all thongs are bad. But let me qualify this statement. The only reason I view thongs as bad is because there are far better shoes available. I know if I wear thongs all day, they’re making my foot muscles work much harder then if I wore sneakers all day (I’ll explain more on this in part 2). So it makes sense that if a patient is asking for shoe recommendations for their painful feet and knees then wearing thongs is not going to form part of that discussion. Namely because patients asking my Perth podiatrist advice typically have heel pain or sore calf muscles so their feet need a break – not more hard work.
This blog will be particularly relevant to Pregnant women with Sore Feet.
Because thongs are typically their go-to shoe but hormones such as relaxin are interfering making their ligaments lax so it’s more important then ever to wear the right shoes because arches don’t collapse on their own.
It’s probably poignant to mention now that if you don’t have sore feet then thongs aren’t that bad (italics for the internal shudder i just had writing that) for your feet. If you have amazing ankles and well formed arches and strong supporting muscles and ligaments then hi-five to you because unless you injure yourself during a sporting event – chances are you’re not going to be walking into my Perth podiatry offices.
Ok now that’s over you know that if a thong I try proves to be comfortable and not make my feet work harder, then it’s going to be a triumph and a testament to the manufacturer – and no I don’t get any freebies or sponsorship deals. But if you’re reading this and happen to be a shoe manufacturer who wants a shoe review then I’m totally open to free shoes & cool fitness tech!
So which thongs will I be choosing to test and more importantly:
What is a Thong?
As un-Australian as that question is – some people just don’t know! A thong is a flat bit of rubber (or similar material) typically 3-5cm thick and shaped to the foot that relies on a single strap to hold your foot in place. The strap is positioned between your 1st and 2nd toes and anchored to the bottom of the thong sole through holes on either side of your foot.
The Thong Candidates:
1. The ‘Australian’ Thong
Known to all – and as Australian as they come, this little piece of rubber (preferably with the Aussie flag printed on the sole) is the staple for every Aussie battler. Will they live up to the legend?
2. The Birkenstock Thong
A German heavyweight this shoe is as mystic in its origins with a composition as unknown as the famous bratwurst sausage. Embracing the curves of your foot this pair of ‘thongs’ typically made with a reconstituted cork composite sole that raises the arch profile to support your feet that little extra. But is its German engineering good for your feet?
3. The Archies Thong
I was first introduced to this thong by a fellow Perth podiatrist who I studied with. It’s a fairly nimble idea – arches are good, thongs are not, add an arch and that makes them good…right?
4. The ‘Hidden Orthotic’ Thong – Equilibras
Can pushing on specific parts of your foot while you walk hold the key to activating the foot support muscles which help you walk more effectively and pain free? These thongs hold a hidden layer of support that unlock your foots potential. I’m actually super excited by this pair. We will find out if their bold ‘nerve stimulating’ claims hold true.
5. The Fit Flop Thong
This has to be the Chunkiest pair of thongs I’ve seen, but if my sisters testament is anything to go by they’re a god send during pregnancy. Let’s put these to the test and hope their female styling won’t embarrass me too much in public…
What special Perth Podiatrist tests will I be subjecting the thongs to?
For this Sports Podiatrist Christmas Special I’ll be putting each thong to the ‘Perth Podiatrist Thong Testing Procedure’ in 3 daring ways:
THE THONG RUN
They say only Australian’s can run in thong so let’s discuss walking and running in thongs separately because surprise surprise – they actually result in different parts of your foot and leg being loaded up. That means when you walk and run different parts of your foot is more likely to injure. I’ll do my best job at capturing my arch collapse as I sprint. From this we can infer how well the thongs are supporting your arch.
THE THONG WALK
I’ll strut my stuff on camera for science – by this I mean I’ll walk past the camera wearing each thong. Yes walking is the most common task completed by thong wearers so it makes sense we should have a closer, slow motion look, at how your foot moves when walking in thongs.
THE THONG SQUAT
Never in my life as a Perth Podiatrist would I recommend someone squat 100kgs in thongs….which is exactly why I’m going to do it on camera. My hope here is that I don’t injure myself, my back, my knees or my feet. Don’t try this at home kids and if I’m not back in my Perth Podiatry Clinics in the New Year – you know why.
Every good study has a hypothesis to prove or disprove. This is not a good study, so I’m going to keep you in suspense for the results to be revealed in my next thong blog.
If you can’t wait – click here to book an appointment with our Perth Podiatrist. Our Podiatry clinics are conveniently located Perth wide and operate from Bassendean and Warwick.
Wishing you and your Lower Limbs a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!