World first study about thongs
23 October 2009
In a world first study University of Sydney researchers are setting out to prove whether the commonly held assumption that thongs are bad for your feet really is true or not.
Podiatrist and University of Sydney researcher Angus Chard will be investigating the effect of thongs, also known as flip-flops, jandals, pluggers, go-aheads and Havana’s, on children’s feet.
Dr Chard, a second generation podiatrist with over sixteen years of clinical expertise, says he “looks forward to replacing the broad public opinion of the health effects of wearing thongs with hard evidence.”
According to Dr Chard, “thongs are often preferred for reasons of comfort, fashion and convenience, while professionals discourage their wear with little scientific evidence of harmful effects.”
But as our understanding of the complex nature of foot function grows, experts are starting to accept that the best shoe should mimic barefoot conditions, says Dr Chard, a researcher with the Footwear Research Team within the Faculty of Health Sciences.
“The latest research has found that there is more motion within the arch of the foot than previously thought. It might be the case that flexible thongs can actually assist in developing the 16 muscles within each foot, helping Australian children to improve their sporting prowess.”
Dr Chard will lead the University of Sydney project which will look at the effects of thongs on foot and leg function. This research will inform future studies investigating footwear ideal for children’s developing feet.
“We will be using technology – similar to that used in movies to bring to life characters such as Gollum from Lord of the Rings – to animate children’s foot and leg motions while they are barefoot, wearing thongs and traditional school shoes.
“Real time animation of children’s postural patterns, with emphasis placed on the feet, will be produced during walking, running and side-stepping activities.”
To be eligible, volunteers must be between the age of 8 and 13 years of age who have not needed the attention of a health practitioner for the previous six months for a foot or leg complaint.
Analysis of suitable children will be conducted at the University of Sydney in Lidcombe, with on-campus parking facilities. Parents with children interested in participating in this exciting environment can contact Dr Angus Chard.
Sydney University’s Faculty of Health Sciences will showcase its world-leading research at celebrations to mark its 30th anniversary on Saturday 31 October 2009.
For further information visit the Health Sciences website.