ICONIC: Ben Gooley of The Jean House, Lismore sporting his double pluggers. PHOTO: PATRICK GORBUNOVS
ICONIC: Ben Gooley of The Jean House, Lismore sporting his double pluggers. PHOTO: PATRICK GORBUNOVS

Prolonged wear could lead to foot problems

AN EXPERIENCED Lismore podiatrist has warned like many good things in life, the iconic Aussie thong should be worn in moderation.

Lara Ivanchenko of Foot in Front Lismore Podiatry said while it was fine for people to wear thongs to the beach or out in the backyard, ideally people should not wear thongs for long periods every day.

After almost 25 years as a podiatrist, Ms Ivanchenko said cheap rubber thongs don't provide adequate support and prolonged wear could lead to foot problems in some people.

"Ideally though it's best to have some sort of support and structure, which your iconic thong doesn't have," she said.

"The fact that they are not giving you any support and you're having to hold onto that thong with your toes as such so it does create more of a clawing with your toes."

"If you wear just the flat rubber thong that goes in between your toes often we see the splaying of the foot and you get that classic separation between the first and the second toe from wearing them for so long."

But for those die-hard thong fans, Ms Ivanchenko said there were several more expensive brands on the market that provided increased levels of support. "When you start to go up into your more expensive thongs it depends on what material they're made from," she said.

"You have ones which have an arch support in them which are generally better than flat rubber thongs, especially if people are having mechanical problems with their feet."

As they are such iconic Aussie footwear, Ms Ivanchenko warned anyone who experienced pain while wearing thongs to swap to more supportive footwear. "If anyone who wears thongs is experiencing any pain, having any mechanical issues with their feet, I would recommend they not wear thongs and change to more supportive footwear," she said.


Thong stamps its mark on our feet

THEY come in a variety of styles, colours, sizes, materials and prices and their history dates back 6000 years to the ancient Egyptians.

The humble thong, flip flop, double plugger or surfer-Joe, as they are known, has been an iconic part of Aussie fashion since their popularity grew worldwide after the Second World War.

Australia's love affair with the thong was broadcast to a global audience of billions when Kylie Minogue was carried into the Sydney 2000 Olympics on a giant thong by the Sydney Swans AFL team.

According to online encyclopaedia Wikipedia the modern thong design and emergence can be traced to the Japanese zôri, which became popular after the war when soldiers returning to the United States brought them back.

Almost 6000 years before the modern thong grew in popularity, ancient Egyptians were roaming the banks of the Nile River in primitive thongs made of papyrus and palm leaves.

Over the centuries the materials thongs have been made from have evolved and changed until the design of the current standard rubber or foam thong emerged in the 1950s.

Rawhide was the material of choice for the Masai of Africa, while Indians preferred wood.

Rice straw was a popular choice of material in China and Japan. Sisal plant leaves were used to make twine for sandals in South America and the natives of Mexico used the yucca plant. When the thong became popular in the 1950s they were socially acceptable footwear to wear to the beach or pool, with shorts, bathing suits, or summer dresses. With their growth in popularity it soon became more acceptable to wear thongs in more formal situations.

Iconic global thong brand Havaianas was launched by Alpargatas in Brazil in 1962.

So popular is the basic footwear that in 2006 worldwide sales of thongs exceeded sneakers for the first time.

In 2009 Atlanta-based company Flip Flop Shops claimed that thongs were responsible for a $20 billion global industry.

Whether it's a $2 pair of rubber double pluggers, the ever popular Havaianas, $160 Birkenstock thongs or podiatry recommended Orthaheel thongs, Australia's love affair with the thong is continuing to grow.

Thong terminology

What other countries call "our thong":

  • India and Pakistan -hawai chappal which translates from Hindi-Urdu as "air sandal.
  • Japan - zôri.
  • Brazil - chinelo.
  • New Zealand - Jandals short for
  • "Japanese sandals".
  • Poland - japonki.
  • Greece- sayonares.
  • Austria- Schlapfen.
  • Hawaii- slippers.
  • South Africa- slops.
  • US and UK - Flip flops.

SOURCE: Wikipedia

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