Thongs fit our groove
WHETHER you love them or loathe them, rubber thongs are Australia's footwear of choice.
They're a wardrobe staple on the steamy North Coast and across Australia they symbolise our laid-back approach to fashion.
Scott Harding of Yamba said his four children all love wearing thongs.
"It's easy to dress them in thongs and they're easy to clean if they get dirty," he said.
Is it all right though for children to wear thongs?
That question was the subject of a world-first study by the Uni- versity of Sydney's footwear research group within the Faculty of Health Sciences.
The university used 3D cameras to observe children's feet as they walked or jogged in thongs.
The results showed thongs could be better for children's feet than other shoes because kids in thongs walk as if they are barefoot.
Researcher and podiatrist Angus Chard said most parents were under the impression thongs were "bad", but this might not be true.
"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," Mr Chard said.
Cliff Coleman of North Coast podiatry in Ballina said the results were "interesting" but he wouldn't recommend thongs to his clients.
He said children needed to wear something that had straps or buckles to keep the sole attached to the foot.
"Early walkers have enough to contend without adding the complexity of a thong into the process as well," Mr Coleman said.
"But bare feet are good because children's feet have to get as much feedback from the ground as possible."
On the streets of Byron Bay lots of people told The Northern Star they love the comfort of thongs.
Surf Central Byron Bay owner David Keevers said he sells thongs to European travellers "all day every day".
"The fashion here in Australia is board shorts, thongs and a singlet, so that's what they want to wear," Mr Keevers said.