18.May.18 | Podiatry

As the weather warms up many of us will reach for a trusty pair of thongs, but do you know what effect that have on your feet? Health professionals have been warning patients to limit their use for decades and now there is evidence to reinforce the message.

Research completed at Auburn University has found that thongs significantly change how you walk. When compared to bare feet, walking in thongs decreased stride length, decreased stance time, increased muscle activity in the lower leg, increased ankle dorsiflexion during swing and decreased hallux dorsiflexion. Furthermore when walking in thongs, plantar foot pressure is increased when compared to walking in runners (1)

What does this research mean? It is generally accepted that thongs don’t support or protect the foot. But what we now know is that thongs actually make more work for the foot. The research highlights how the wearer grips thongs by changing the angle of the foot and increasing muscle activity. These same muscles fatigue earlier and are less able to perform their primary role of supporting the foot.

Thongs have their place in any shoe closet as a ‘sometimes’ shoe. But what the research now confirms is they are not suited for long periods or for people with certain foot pathologies.

We do know that in the Australian summer it’s difficult not to reach for a pair of thongs or sandals when it gets hot however there are more supportive options available, something our podiatrists are trained to advise based on your foot type and footwear needs. If you have any questions about your footwear please make an appointment to see one of our podiatrists.

1. Justin F. Shroyer and Wendi H. Weimar (2010) Comparative Analysis of Human Gait While Wearing Thong-Style Flip-flops versus Sneakers. Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association: July 2010, Vol. 100, No. 4, pp. 251-257.