Why my feet hurt in thongs

It’s getting warmer, your feet are getting hot. And those rubber thongs are looking really good right about now. But you’ve been told by your podiatrist that they’re not good for your feet. I’d like to explain to you how thongs compare to other footwear and why they shouldn’t be your first choice this season.

Often people will say that their feet hurt after wearing thongs. Unlike our work shoes – court shoes, steel capped boots, Mary – Jane, or sneakers, rubber thongs have nearly no structure and our feet have to work extra hard to walk in them. This can lead to muscle strain and pain. Below are important footwear features of general footwear and how rubber thongs compares.

Heel pitch – the heel pitch is the difference in height between the heel of the shoe and the forefoot. An average sneaker/work shoe has a heel pitch of 12mm, where as a thong’s heel pitch is zero. If your body is not conditioned to wearing really flat shoes, it can cause pain in the calves, Achilles or the plantar fascia/heel area.

No support – In in rubber thong there is no support under the arch unlike other footwear options. If you have strong foot muscles, this may not be an issue for you. A lot of our patients are more comfortable in a shoe which contours under their arch and helps hold the foot nice and secure. This is because it takes the pressure of different structures in the foot, like the Plantar Fascia, and decreases stress on different tissue areas. 

Not secure – Because there is no fastening of the thong onto your foot, your foot muscles have to work extra hard to keep it on. The technique we use to do this is clawing of the digits. Each step you take in a rubber thong your toes are scrunching (take notice of this next time). This puts pressure on your toes, the front of the leg and ankle and can also cause forefoot deformities like clawed toes, and plantar plate issues over a long period of time.