World-first study shows thongs could be better for kids' feet than other shoes

Apr 12, 2012
Contrary to popular belief, thongs may actually be good for children's feet.

Australia's favourite footwear is under the spotlight, with a new world-first study from the University of Sydney indicating thongs may not be as bad for children's feet as their reputation suggests.

Angus Chard, from the University's Footwear Research Group within the Faculty of Health Sciences, examined the motions of walking and jogging in thongs and found their foot and ankle motion to be more similar to bare foot motion than other shoes.

The results, presented yesterday at the International Foot and Ankle Biomechanics (i-FAB) Conference at the University of Sydney, indicate thongs are not necessarily bad for children's development and could in fact be better than other shoes.

"There's a lot of anecdotal opinion that thongs are bad for children's feet, but contrary to that we've found that walking and jogging in thongs is very similar to walking and jogging barefoot, except for some compensations necessary to keep the thongs on," says Angus.

"It's been shown in epidemiological studies that children who have grown up without shoes have a lesser incidence of flat feet and toe deformities, so there's strong support for the argument that bare feet are the best model of footwear," he says.

Angus and his team used state of the art 3D camera motion , similar to that used in the films Happy Feet and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, to accurately observe the foot motions of 13 children aged eight to 13.

"Compensations required to make sure the thong stays on may lead to muscle overuse injuries with prolonged wear, but they may also assist in some strengthening effects," says Angus.

The next step in Angus' research is to look at the effect thongs have on the kinetics or joint powers produced when children wear thongs, which will help us gain further insight into pathology that might be related to thongs.

"I'm a and there's no shortage of public opinion or parents' concern on whether or not thongs are bad for children's . Most parents are under the impression that they're bad. While we can't yet necessarily say they're good for children's development, we certainly haven't found any reasons to discourage children from wearing thongs for short periods," he says.

Having practised as a podiatrist for almost 20 years, Angus returned to university to try and close the gap between clinical experience and evidence-based medicine.

"After 19 years I felt like I had enough questions to ask to return to university. We need to draw from both our experience as clinicians and from evidence-based medicine to offer patients the full range of treatment options available to them," Angus says.

Explore further: Ig Nobel winner: Using pork to stop nosebleeds

Provided by University of Sydney

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Flips-flops are bad for your sole

Jun 18, 2009

Flip-flops aren't just hazardous to politicians -- they also pose risks for your feet. The floppy footwear, once contained to the beach, can now be spotted year-round.

Shoes: A treatment for osteoarthritis in the knees?

Mar 24, 2010

Flip-flops and sneakers with flexible soles are easier on the knees than clogs or even special walking shoes, a study by Rush University Medical Center has found. And that's important, because loading on the knee joints ...

Running shoes may cause damage to knees, hips and ankles

Jan 04, 2010

Knee osteoarthritis (OA) accounts for more disability in the elderly than any other disease. Running, although it has proven cardiovascular and other health benefits, can increase stresses on the joints of the leg. In a study ...

Don't suffer in silence with toe pain

Aug 01, 2011

While deformities of the lesser toes (all toes other than the big toe) can be very painful, there are numerous surgical and nonsurgical treatments for these conditions that are usually quite effective. A literature review ...

Supportive shoes date to 40,000 years

Aug 24, 2005

Modern-type supportive shoes came into existence between 26,000 and 40,000 years ago, a Washington University professor has determined.

Recommended for you

Ig Nobel winner: Using pork to stop nosebleeds

Sep 19, 2014

There's some truth to the effectiveness of folk remedies and old wives' tales when it comes to serious medical issues, according to findings by a team from Detroit Medical Center.

History books spark latest Texas classroom battle

Sep 16, 2014

As Texas mulls new history textbooks for its 5-plus million public school students, some academics are decrying lessons they say exaggerate the influence of Christian values on America's Founding Fathers.

Flatow, 'Science Friday' settle claims over grant

Sep 16, 2014

Federal prosecutors say radio host Ira Flatow and his "Science Friday" show that airs on many National Public Radio stations have settled civil claims that they misused money from a nearly $1 million federal ...

User comments : 0