Everyone Is Into Crocs Right Now, So We Asked an Expert How They Treat Your Feet
Is it just me, or does anyone else remember Crocs being the butt of the joke for years before they suddenly became everyone's favorite casual shoe brand? Blame the pandemic's effect on fashion trends or Kanye's Croc-ish shoe design or just the fact that they are comfortable — for whatever reason, Crocs are now a footwear mainstay, whether you're slipping them on for household chores or a trip down the red carpet. (High heels optional.)
Of course, all this Croc talk got me wondering what these shoes do to your feet. Sure, they're convenient to slip on and match with a surprisingly wide variety of trendy outfits, but do they provide arch support? Sure they're comfortable, but what about foot stability? Are Crocs good for walks? It seems like everyone is wearing Crocs these days, so it's a good time to investigate whether your muscles, joints, and bones love them as much as your sense of fashion (and convenience) does.
Are Crocs Good For Your Feet?
Let's start with the good news. "Crocs are OK to wear, within reason," says podiatrist Ejodamen Shobowale, DPM. A rule of thumb: you're good to wear Crocs for short-term, nonexercise use. "If you're just running a quick errand where you're not going to be on your feet for an extended amount of time, then I think that they're fine," Dr. Shobowale says. Some light work around the house or a very short, leisurely walk is OK too, as long as you don't have any foot problems or pain. (More on that below.)
Crocs are pretty wide, and while that can be an issue for some people, it can also be beneficial if your foot is swollen from an injury or from traveling, Dr. Shobowale says. (Note that Crocs are not appropriate to wear for many foot injuries, as we'll get into later. It's worth checking with your doctor before you make them your go-to when injured, whether you have swelling or not.) Shoes that are too narrow have the potential to impede your foot's natural movement and mechanics and cause pain, discomfort, and injury, which isn't an issue you'll have with Crocs either — they provide plenty of room for your toes to splay out.
Another benefit of Crocs is that they're well ventilated, Dr. Shobowale says. That allows air circulation around your foot, which prevents mustiness and accumulation of fluid, which is especially helpful if you sweat a lot. It's also a positive for people with foot fungus, because "fungus thrives in dark, wet, warm areas," Dr. Shobowale explains. With Crocs, there is plenty of air and light circulating around your feet. Many types of Crocs are machine washable as well, which helps to prevent dampness and keep the area around your feet nice and clean.
Are Crocs Good For Flat Feet and Plantar Fasciitis?
Now, onto the downsides. One thing to remember about Crocs is that they don't provide much support or stability, so they're not a good choice if you have plantar fasciitis or flat feet, Dr. Shobowale says, even if you're just wearing them for a short amount of time.
Plantar fasciitis occurs when the thick plantar fascia ligament in the arch of your foot becomes inflamed, causing pain at the bottom of your heel or midfoot area. Good arch support is typically a recommended treatment for people with plantar fasciitis, because you want to reinforce your overworked plantar fascia. Due to their design, Crocs aren't able to give the kind of arch support needed for feet with plantar fasciitis. "Crocs are inherently made to be quick, flexible, with lots of room," Dr. Shobowale explains. "It just doesn't work for those ailments that need support like plantar fasciitis."
For similar reasons, Dr. Shobowale also doesn't recommend Crocs for people with flat feet. Flat feet are often very flexible, Dr. Shobowale says, which can cause discomfort when your feet aren't given much stability or support. Doctors usually recommend wearing supportive shoes or using orthotic shoe inserts, both of which provide arch support, stabilize the heel, and prevent excessive movement, Dr. Shobowale says. If you have flat feet but don't deal with any pain or discomfort, she notes, you may be OK to wear Crocs for short periods.
When Not to Wear Crocs
While Crocs are OK for short-term use for many of us, there are a few other instances when you should try another form of footwear. According to Dr. Shobowale, Crocs aren't the best choice for:
- Plantar fasciitis or symptomatic flat feet: See above.
- A broken bone, stress fracture, or tendonitis in your foot: Most injuries in your feet, especially if they're caused by overuse (like a stress fracture or tendonitis), benefit from lots of support and stability, which Crocs aren't known for providing.
- Exercise: A slow stroll is about the most activity you should do while wearing Crocs, Dr. Shobowale says. "I wouldn't choose a Croc to wear to walk for exercise," she says, and the same goes for running or any other type of workout. "If you're in a situation where you do need support, you need your foot to be working optimally, then I wouldn't choose Crocs."
- Standing for an extended period of time: If you know you'll be standing for a while (think: 10 to 15 minutes or more), it's best to choose shoes with a little more support than Crocs.
To sum it up, Crocs are OK to wear in short bursts and when your feet won't be under a ton of strain. If you have a foot injury (or are prone to them) or know you'll be putting your feet through a longer walk or lots of standing, then you'll want to reach for some walking or running shoes with more support and stability. "Crocs are not a bad shoe," Dr. Shobowale says. "They're just not for everyone and not for every situation."