Crocs Are Bad for Your Feet, Some Doctors Say

June 5, 2016 Updated: June 6, 2016

Apparently, Crocs—those colorful rubber clogs that are commonly derided as being tacky—are bad for your health, a researcher has recently found.

“Unfortunately, Crocs are not suitable for all-day use,” Dr. Megan Leahy, a Chicago-based podiatrist with the Illinois Bone and Joint Institute, told the Huffington Post this week.

She said Crocs can lead to a number of problems.

“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,” she said.

Crocs, a brand that started in 2002, have sold more than 300 million pairs in 90 countries. Many people say that they’re quite comfortable.

Dr. Leahy added that the shoes, however, do provide “nice arch support.”

Dr Alex Kor, the president of the American Academy of Podiatry Sports Medicine, told the Post that Crocs are problematic.

He said, “Patients are more likely to have foot pain if their shoes bend in the shank.”

The most important feature in any shoe, he claimed, is the shank—the supportive structure between the toe and the heel.

He 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.”

“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.”

“But, under no circumstances can I suggest wearing Crocs 8 to 10 hours per day.”

Dr. Leahy added that Crocs are fine for sporadic wearing, including at the beach or at the pool.

The colorful shoes “should not be used for long walks,” she said, adding that “I do notice that children (and even adults) tend to trip and fall more in these shoes.”

Some experts said that Crocs are actually recommended to some patients with foot problems.

“These shoes are especially light,” Harold Glickman, DPM, ex-president of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), told WebMD. “They have huge room in the toe that affords the front part of the foot lots of room, especially for people with bone deformities like bunions and hammer toe. With the Rx Crocs, they’re lined with antibacterial material that will prevent fungal and bacterial infections.”

He said they’re also better than flip-flops.

“Crocs offer more protection for your feet than flip-flops,” added Dr. Glickman. “Flip-flops don’t provide a lot of arch support; they’re open-toed so you can stub your toe and hurt yourself. Crocs offer more protection and comfort than that.”

“They are very light weight and are good for people who have trouble walking,” said Bob Baravarian, MD, chief of foot and ankle surgery at Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center, told WebMD. “They are very stable, they don’t bend and twist side to side much, and they have a good heel cup and arch contour compared to other shoes.”

Dr. Baravarian said the shoes aren’t made for long-term wear. 

“Because the shoe is considered medical, it gets overused by people who need more support than they can get from the shoe,” he said. “It’s not as good as an orthotic or a medical type shoe; it’s made out to be better than it is.”

“It’s a good shoe for going to the beach, kicking around the house, going to the corner market, but they’re not made to be worn at Disneyland all day long,” Dr. Baravarian added.