The unfortunate truth about the Aussie ‘thong’

The sun is making a more regular appearance and the shorts and skirts are back in town. The time consuming action of pulling on socks and lacing up shoes is rapidly being replaced by slipping on ‘thongs!’

Over recent years ‘thongs’ have evolved far beyond just a beach item or for showering in caravan parks.  They are regularly seen worn with jeans at barbecues and beer gardens, exiting the footy clubs and gyms and doing the supermarket shopping.

Anyone who’s walked into my osteopathy clinic wearing thongs/flip flops/Haviana’s soon learns what I think about them.  Unfortunately the iconic Aussie footwear is a cause of many musculoskeletal aches and pains.  Those of you who’ve suffered plantar fasciitis, foot pain, heel pain, shin splints, calf pain, knee pain to mention a few, probably know exactly what I’m talking about.

Foot pronation (rolling inward of the feet) has long been a focus of podiatrists due to the increased workload on muscles in the arches, calf and shin, as well as the extra strain on the knees, hips and lowback.  Many people have had orthotics (arch supports) prescribed to help cater for the support most footwear fails to provide.  Unless your wearing Birkenstock’s or other supportive thongs like Orthaheel your thong is likely to cause foot pronation.

That’s not the end of it!!  As its alter ego ‘flip flop’ suggests, the thong flips up and down with every step creating that summer sound of slapping against your heal as you stroll along the hot asphalt.  This flick of the rubber sole demands a great deal more work from the calf muscles whilst the arch muscles help your toes to cling onto the strap of the thong.  Not surprising you get those heavy legs, cramping calves or tired feet after you’ve run around Knox City doing the Christmas shopping!!

So what do we where in the summer then?  Brands like Birkenstock, Orthaheel and Crocs have added arch support to reduce pronation and their straps reach further back on the foot to minimise the flip flop action.  Sandals with arch support would be more preferable though.  Overall, if you can find a summer shoe which has some form of arch support and fits you firm enough to walk without a flip flop action your on track.

If you do decide to persist with thongs, try to avoid walking too far in them and stretch your calves as often as possible.

Enjoy the summer.

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