Saturday, June 09, 2018
Sandals, foot police and foot health
Ask any fashionista and they will freely admit to owning several pairs of sandals (thongs in Australia). The popularity of the G string of the foot is global and comes with forebodings from the foot police. Dreadful things will happen to those who choose to wear them but this comes in the absence of any evidence to support the claim. Thongs are no different to any other shoe and when worn in moderation no normal foot will come to harm. Indeed, if it were otherwise then we would all have weak feet because sandals have been around since the beginning of clothing. Whilst care is cautioned, not to attempt physical activity in inappropriately designed shoes many great feats have been achieved in the humble thong.
I am reminded of stranded travelers in Australia who walk miles for assistance in the punishing heat protected only by their sandals. Shoes are not the primary cause of foot problems as has been proffered by so called experts and although they may excite repetitive stress injury, the fundamental problem already exists.
The genesis of the sports sandals bears no resemblance to the daggy origins of ‘dads at barbecues’ but lends instead more to the practical development of shoes which support the foot and give traction to it on wet surfaces during excessive sports such as white water rafting.
Sport sandals of today are technical marvels which incorporate the accumulated knowledge of shoe making since the beginning together with 21st century materials. Many of the thongs incorporate wedges in their midsole and are not flat surfaces as indicated.
Condemnation of the thong is easy because it has association with low socio-economical groups and access to privately owned public space such as shopping malls and cinemas sadly bear witness to this in our society. These are promulgated by pseud-laws of health and safety which do not exist. (Refer to the Barefoot Society website). In essence, like all Western Countries, Middle Class society do not like poor people and take every opportunity to marginalise them, including what they do with their feet. The ancient Romans were no different and legislated only citizens of Rome (males) had the right to wear shoes (ironically thongs).
However there is no evidence to suggest single or double pluggers do you any harm whatsoever in the general population. Long live the Aussie icon!
Podiatrists and orthopaedists do reflect on the population seen by them for professional services and under these circumstances there may well be an association between foot pathology and inappropriate footwear. However, that relationship needs to be made clear in any public statement made. After all, as scientists it would be inappropriate to wildly extrapolate without foundation. And discerning consumers of health information, need to make informed decisions based upon empirical evidence and not alarmist predictions based upon anecdotal evidence alone.