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The Case Against Crocs

Those of us “in the club” have all done it. Come home after a long day of work, or maybe wake up on our days off and slip into…heaven. Am I talking about a spa? A hot tub? No, my friend, I am talking about the little pieces of heaven you either love or hate, Crocs. Big, roomy, comfortable, and absolutely unfashionable, Crocs. Wear them everywhere, or only around the home, but if you are a Crocs person, you can’t imagine your life without them. If you aren’t a Crocs person, you probably haven’t slipped them onto your tired feet yet. Why are Croc fans, well, fans? Let’s take a look.

Are your Crocs dirty? Toss them in the washer, take a hose to them, take a power washer to them, heck, you could even toss them in the dishwasher if your sensibilities would allow it. Just headed to the mailbox, going to get groceries, going to the beach, or perhaps working in the garden…grab your Crocs. But what if you are going to work? What if you are going to be on your feet all day? Should you treat your feet to those wonderful little clouds of awesome for the day? Unfortunately, the experts say that is a big “No’.

According to a recent HuffPost article, Crocs simply aren’t suitable for all-day wear. "Unfortunately, Crocs are not suitable for all-day use," Dr. Megan Leahy, a Chicago-based podiatrist with the Illinois Bone and Joint Institute, told HuffPost. While she granted that they "offer nice arch support," she added that the real reason you shouldn't wear them over long periods of time is that "these shoes do not adequately secure the heel. When the heel is unstable, toes tend to grip, which can lead to tendinitis, worsening of toe deformities, nail problems, corns, and calluses. The same thing can happen with flip flops or any backless shoes as the heel is not secured."

image of shoes

But hey, this is only one expert, right? Wrong, unfortunately, it appears there is consensus that Crocs are not a good footwear option. Dr. Alex Kor, the president of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine, told HuffPost that the most important feature in any shoe is the shank, the supportive structure between the heel and the toe. “Patients are more likely to have foot pain if their shoes bend in the shank,” said Kor.

Crocs, according to Kor, "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," he said.

"The only two types of patients that may benefit from wearing Crocs are patients that have a very high arch or those who suffer from excessive edema of their legs and ankle," Kor said. "But, under no circumstances can I suggest wearing Crocs 8 to 10 hours per day." Crushing news, isn’t it? How could something so comfy be bad for you? Should you not wear them at all?

According to Leahy, Crocs are "OK to use for trips to the beach or the pool, but should not be used for long walks. I do notice that children (and even adults) tend to trip and fall more in these shoes." For medical professionals, trips and falls can be deadly to both the medical professionals and the patients in their care, yet another reason to reconsider your choices. Having taken a spill or two in Crocs (I highly recommend not climbing ladders), that comfort comes at a price. Roomy is great, too roomy is dangerous and non-supportive. In Crocs, as in life, it is a give and take to find the right balance of comfort vs function.

Yet another expert voiced concern over the extended wear of Crocs in a recent blog. Dr. Jason George DeVries, a foot and ankle surgeon with Orthopedics & Sports Medicine BayCare Clinic in Green Bay, Wisconsin, echoed those thoughts. DeVries frequently reminds patients about the dangers of flip-flops and other unsupportive footwear. “While Crocs and other unsupportive shoes may feel good on the feet, allowing air to circulate and your feet to breathe, the danger lies in the fact that these forms of footwear offer little to no support. That often leads to twisted ankles, irritated feet, and general overload. The foot has to work that much harder because the support offered by a closed shoe just isn’t there.”

photo of nurse walking patient in wheelchair

However, don’t despair, Croc Connoisseurs, according to The Nerdy Nurse website Crocs has rolled out specific shoes meant to meet the needs of medical professionals on their feet all day. Extra support, a roomy toe box, and even some trendy shoe décor to sweeten the look. Is the added support enough? Probably that would be best discussed with your podiatrist, but for those determined to wear Crocs regardless of advice, the additional support version is a better option for longer days. But for your days on the beach, your meandering through the garden, the casual trip to the grocery store, you can slip on those glorious Crocs and enjoy them.

Maybe you just can’t embrace that hippo-like shape and indestructible construction of Crocs. Don’t despair, the 12 Best Shoes for Nurses list for 2023 is now published, and it has great options available. From clogs to tennis shoes to slip-ons, there are specific features that you typically want to see in a shoe appropriate for those on their feet all day. According to Asim Sayed, an expert podiatrist, “Not wearing the right shoes can cause many issues aside from foot discomfort, including pain in the hips, knees, and back, so it’s important to have a good stable pair of shoes that put your body in the correct equilibrium,” explains Asim. “The longer you are on your feet with bad or uncomfortable shoes, the worse those problems can become.”

Features to look for in a great, “on-your-feet all, day shoe include:

  • Non-slip grip
  • Extra cushioning
  • Arch support
  • Flexible outsole
  • Wide toe-box
  • Cupped heel

No matter what style appeals to you, the attributes listed above can help improve your overall health, reduce injuries and discomfort, and reduce the risk of falls while on the job. Invest in your shoes, they are the foundation your health is built on!

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