Summer Foot Problems
While Melbourne summer may not always be hot, it does often see people using more people trading the Ugg Boots for the Havaianas/thongs when ducking down to the shops – or ditch the shoes completely! Over the hotter months, this can create some problems.
In this series we will cover 4 main topics:
1. Are Thongs bad for my feet?
2. What problems can occur if I wear Thongs too much?
3. What SHOULD I wear all summer?
4. Summer skin problems
Are thongs bad for my feet?
Thongs (the kind that go under your feet) are an Aussie icon and the favourite form of footwear whenever the weather is warm enough.
While a pair of thongs have a time & place for good use, using them for hours and days on end can cause large amounts of strain (and even injury) to feet that are used to spending more than half the year in closed-toed, laced shoes.
The main problem with the classic Thongs is that they only stick to your foot if you clench your toes (even just a little).
Most shoes with a heel backing/counter or buckle will move with your heel as it lifts, while some sandals with a midfoot strap will lift soon after. However, thongs or thin-strapped sandals, there is only grip at the front of your foot – so they might slip off if you don’t use your toes to hold onto them.
Combine that with the lack of shock absorption or arch support, and the classic Thongs are a common cause of foot & ankle pains for many Melburnians in the summertime.
COMMON FOOT & ANKLE PAINS – FROM WEARING THONGS TOO MUCH?
Many problems can occur from overuse of Thongs, so the list below only notes a few, common concerns that patients tend to have – and little tips & considerations we have to help you manage these problems.
Of course, any related foot or ankle problem could be easily remedied with the solution: “Wear thongs less – or not at all”, but we understand that may not happen!
PROBLEM: Toe, Top of Foot & Ankle Pains
+ HELPFUL TIPS: AVOID super-loose Thongs, and stick to shorter walks on flat ground – this reduces how much clawing you need to do.
– CONSIDERATION: While these areas can hurt due to strain of toe & ankle muscles, other conditions (such as Bunions) can be worsened by the clawing in Thongs.
PROBLEM: Arch or Heel Pain
+ HELPFUL TIPS: Try to use Thongs which have arch support built in (eg. Archies thongs) and maintain a good calf stretching & strengthening routine.
– CONSIDERATION: While arch supportive thongs may be better than flat ones, they’re still not as supportive as an enclosed shoe with support.
PROBLEM: Irritation or Blisters from straps rubbing!
+ HELPFUL TIPS: To avoid rubbing on the top of your feet, make sure your Thongs straps aren’t too tight to begin with (ie. they shouldn’t ‘hug’ your foot when standing still, they should sit ‘just off’ your skin).
– CONSIDERATION: A loose-fit may protect your skin, but increases the amount of toe-clawing and overall foot strain.
PROBLEM: Tripping (from the pesky Front-edge getting stuck & curling over!!!)
+ HELPFUL TIPS: AVOID dragging your feet, and LIFT your toes clear off the ground when walking – unlike shoes or firm sandals, rubber thongs can catch on the ground and fold over.
– CONSIDERATION: Yet again, to do this safely, you will need to over-claw AND over-extend your toes to safely hold your Thongs onto your feet.
WHAT SHOES SHOULD I WEAR ALL SUMMER?
Always remember that everyone has different feet and what works fine for one foot may hurt another. So don’t be confused or jealous if you know certain people, or have heard of certain populations of people (eg. the Byron Bay crowd) who seem to have zero foot problems when wearing thongs.
For the many Melbourne residents who DO experience problems from wearing thongs all summer, some suggestions for alternate footwear include:
- Many sandals have straps over the top of the midfoot,
- even better, other have an extra buckle/strap at the back of the heel – greatly reducing the amount of toe-clawing when walking,
- many sandal brand (eg. Merryl or Birkenstock) tend to have in-built arch support.
ARCH SUPPORTIVE THONGS
– as mentioned previously: thongs that have built-it arch support (such as Archies thongs) can help to minimise the strain on the feet.
BREATHABLE RUNNERS (and Socks)
– many modern runners have mesh or breathable upper materials – so wearing Runners in the hot, sweaty weather can be far more comfortable than it use to be,
– thin, breathable socks (eg. bamboo, Athletic/Technology design) compliments this air-flow & comfort.
If you have any fears or questions about your Thongs and their desire to harm you – please get into contact with Holistic Foot Clinic or the podiatrist in your area, as one consult, and good discussion can make all the difference.