Health

The Real Reason Not to Wear Crocs

Crocs have been both loved and reviled since the footwear debuted in 2002 at a boat show in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Adherents like them for their comfort, but critics decry them them as unacceptably ugly. And Crocs' detractors have been vocal about it: They've created hate blogs and countless memes. One hater wrote in a 2006 Washington Post story that the rubbery clogs had "spread like vermin."

Even so, the shoes remain popular.

But if you still wear Crocs through all of the negativity, it may be time to think again: Podiatrists say they could hurt your health if you wear them all the time.

Meme of cat calling out humans for wearing Crocs brand shoes and looking stupid.

"Unfortunately, Crocs are not suitable for all-day use," Megan Leahy, a Chicago-based podiatrist, told The Huffington Post.

Crocs can cause serious problems, according to Leahy: tendonitis, toe deformities, nail problems, corns, and calluses. This is because the backless shoes don't have adequate heel support, leading your toes to grip the soles to stabilize your heel as you wear them.

Diehard Croc fans will probably find an excuse to continue wearing them. What about versions of the spongy shoe with a heel strap, like those worn by celebrity chef Mario Batali? (He actually has a pair of orange Crocs named after him.)

Sorry, Croc lover, no dice. The shoes have a shank — the section between the heel and the toe — that's too flexible, and even Crocs with heel straps aren't good for your feet, said Alex Kor, a podiatrist and president of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine.

"Patients are more likely to have foot pain if their shoes bend in the shank," Kor said. " [Crocs] are the 'poster child' for shoes with a flexible shank. [...] In other words, on a daily basis, I see patients who come into my office complaining of arch or heel pain, and they are wearing Crocs."

In other words, Crocs just aren't healthy for your feet.

If you're determined to keep wearing your Crocs, there's still some hope for you.

Flip-flops and other backless shoes can cause the same issues as Crocs for frequent wearers, Leahy said. Which means that, just like flip-flops, Crocs can be OK for sporadic wear.

"[Crocs] are OK to use for trips to the beach or the pool, but should not be used for long walks," Leahy said.

 

A photo posted by Crocs Shoes (@crocs) on

Kor agreed. He said that there are even two types of wearers who may actually benefit from wearing Crocs: Those with very high arches and those who suffer from excessive edema (swelling) in their legs and ankles. But he still draws a hard line on how often they should be worn.

"[Under] no circumstances can I suggest wearing Crocs eight to 10 hours per day," he advised.

We asked Crocs to respond to this most recent round of criticism of its shoes, but hadn't heard back by press time. The shoe company has argued in the past that its shoes have therapeutic benefits.

"These shoes were designed specifically to eliminate plantar pain and achy feet," Crocs co-founder Lyndon V. Hanson III has said. He pointed to the company's Croc Rx line. "They also help people with injured feet, bunions, and diabetes. [...] They're ideal for people with foot problems."