Plantar Fasciitis Thongs: Do They Work?
Plantar fasciitis is a condition characterised by inflammation of the plantar fascia, a band of tissue that stretches along the sole of the foot and connects the heel to the front. The word literally means “foot sole band” in Latin.
Often presenting as a type of stabbing pain near the heel, plantar fasciitis is a common condition thought to affect around 10% of people at some point in their lives. It is most common in people aged between 40 and 60 and risk factors include obesity, certain types of exercise, and jobs that require you to stand all day.
Physical therapy, stretching exercises, and rest can all help with plantar fasciitis. Many people also swear by plantar fasciitis thongs, and that’s what we’ll look at in this guide, covering questions such as:
- What are the best shoes for plantar fasciitis?
- What are the best thongs for plantar fasciitis in Australia?
- How do these thongs work?
- What does the science say?
What Are Plantar Fasciitis Thongs?
The plantar fascia is like a giant shock absorber that stretches and supports with every load-bearing step. With excessive stress, it can become inflamed, swollen, and painful, so you need footwear that will support and protect.
Typically, thongs have flat and unsupportive soles, increasing the impact on the plantar fascia. Thongs for plantar fasciitis, however, are specifically designed to support this area of the foot.
How Do Plantar Fasciitis Thongs Work?
Thongs are comfortable and cool—the perfect footwear for the beach and those lazy days in the garden. But they’re not very supportive. The straps are often too thin and loose, which means the front of your foot overcompensates. The soles are also flat, giving you very little support.
Plantar fasciitis thongs are designed to mitigate these issues.
They feature arch support, creating just enough contour to protect the foot and prevent aches and pains from walking around all day. They also include advanced shock absorption, limiting the impact on your sole, and a shape that encourages proper foot alignment.
You can walk, run, and wear them all day without issue.
Efficacy and Evidence
There is no shortage of anecdotal evidence supporting the benefits of plantar fasciitis thongs, but there have been some very positive clinical trials as well.
The most notable of these was conducted in 2015. Researchers gathered 150 volunteers with plantar heel pain and split them into three groups:
- Flat thongs
- Contoured sandals
- Full-length foot orthotics
After 12 weeks, those given the flat thongs reported no changes while those with contoured and orthotic thongs reported a 68% and 61% improvement respectively. Participants also recorded less pain and mobility issues.
Considerations and Limitations
To make sure you get the most out of your plantar fasciitis thongs, keep the following in mind:
- Size: As with any other type of footwear, if they don’t fit, they will cause more problems than they fix. For instance, large thongs mean a looser fit around the toes, forcing your toes to clench and grip with every movement. Choose a pair that fits perfectly.
- Affordable: The best thong sandals for plantar fasciitis are surprisingly affordable, especially when you consider how much of a difference they can make. Check out Lightfeet Arch Support Thongs to see the latest prices.
- Varied response: Not everyone has the same response to plantar fasciitis thongs. They work for most people and should provide some relief, but they may not work as you expect.
- Over-reliance: Plantar fasciitis thongs can make a big difference to your comfort levels, but they’re not a magic wand and it’s important not to rely solely on them. Check out the therapies below for complementary ways to treat plantar fasciitis.
Alternative and Complementary Treatments
If you have been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, get yourself a pair of plantar fasciitis thongs and consider the following, all of which can soothe the pain and expedite your recovery:
- Medications: Although they aren’t always needed, NSAIDs like ibuprofen may help if the pain is bad. These medications can cause several side effects (from nausea and heartburn to kidney damage), so use them sparingly.
- Night splints: Worn during the night, splits keep the plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendon in a position that promotes healing.
- Stretches: A physical therapist can recommend certain stretches and exercises, including heel raises.
- Ice: An ice pack helps to reduce inflammation and pain. It is applied directly to the problem area.
- Massages: Stand upright, place a cold bottle of water on the floor, and then gently roll your foot over it. Not only will the temperature relieve the pain and inflammation, but the action will gently massage your foot.
- Clinical procedures: If the issue persists, your doctor may recommend surgery, steroid injections, and a treatment known as extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT), which stimulates healing.
Expert Opinions and Recommendations
Many experts recommend choosing your footwear carefully if you are prone to plantar fasciitis. You should avoid flat thongs and sneakers. Some sneakers have built-in archway support, many don’t. Skateboarding shoes are a prime example, as they are designed to have flat and thick soles to give skaters more control, but it also means they don’t have much arch support.
Not a skater? It doesn’t matter, as the biggest brands include Vans and Converse, both of which are popular mainstream choices.
If flat shoes are required for your work/school, look for shoes with a slight heel to minimise stretching, and make sure the front grips well. Have you already invested in flat-soled shoes? Pick up some inserts to make them more supportive.
If you like wearing thongs, stick with plantar fasciitis thongs, as standard thongs are often the worst offenders.
If you have foot pain that you suspect is plantar fasciitis, the first thing you should do is contact your doctor. They will make a diagnosis and suggest some treatment options, including footwear recommendations.
Plantar fasciitis thongs turn something that can be very bad for your feet into something designed with comfort and support in mind. They’ll keep your feet cool and dry while also preventing aches, pains, and other complications.
Check out the Lightfeet selection to find the best thongs for plantar fasciitis in Australia.