Your Crocs may feel comfortable, but they don’t offer the best support for your feet. Here’s when to wear them and when to opt for another shoe.
Crocs are something of a controversial footwear choice. Some people dislike the way they look and feel, while others find them comfortable, lightweight, and trendy.
Aside from the debate over their appearance, you might be wondering whether Crocs are good for your feet.
The answer to that question depends on a few different factors, including your foot health and the activities you plan to do while wearing them.
Read on to learn all about the pros and cons of Crocs for your feet and a few comfortable alternatives.
Wearing Crocs regularly can have some drawbacks.
They lack arch support
One main concern with Crocs is their lack of arch support, according to Sidney Weiser DPM, a podiatrist based in Florida and Illinois and president of Quality Podiatry Group.
Weiser says this lack of arch support can put extra strain on the plantar fascia, a thick ligament that runs from your heel to the front of your foot. The plantar fascia acts as a shock absorber and supports the arch of your foot.
If you often wear shoes that lack arch support, you may eventually develop plantar fasciitis, a condition where you feel pain at the bottom of your heel and sometimes at the bottom mid-foot area. This condition can make walking, standing, or climbing stairs very difficult.
Weiser recommends avoiding Crocs entirely if you’re flat-footed. According to the Institute of Preventative Foot Health, being flat-footed can contribute to plantar fasciitis and other health conditions, especially if you don’t wear shoes that support your arches.
These conditions include:
- Achilles tendinitis
- hammer toes
- posterior tibial tendonitis
- shin splints
They lack heel support
“Crocs are backless and do not support or control the heel,” Weiser adds.
As a result, you could develop heel pain and tendonitis of the heel.
The lack of heel support can make it more difficult to maintain stability as you walk, so you may be more likely to trip or fall. In fact, some evidence from 2021 suggests that Crocs don’t help you maintain your balance any better than flip-flops.
They can cause sweating and irritation
Additionally, Crocs are made from plastic. Although they have drainage holes that can make them feel breathable, the plastic can still make your feet sweat. In some cases, friction between your skin and the plastic can also lead to irritation and discomfort.
Weiser says wearing Crocs for long periods can cause:
- friction blisters
- excessive sweating
- smelly feet
To avoid these downsides, it’s best to wear your Crocs for short periods of time only. When you plan to walk around a lot, consider switching to breathable, non-plastic shoes with better arch support.
Crocs aren’t all bad, though.
For one thing, they’re quite roomy, so you might find them more comfortable to wear if your feet tend to swell.
Crocs are also relatively easy to put on, since the wide-fit design means you can simply slide your foot in. If you have trouble bending over or tying laces, Crocs might make a good choice — especially if you won’t be walking and don’t need arch support.
In general, it’s fine to wear Crocs occasionally as long as they don’t cause you any pain. They may work well for activities that don’t involve heavy-duty walking, such as:
- doing chores at home
- office work
- a trip to the movie theater
In some circumstances, you may want to opt for another shoe.
High impact activities
You’ll want to leave your Crocs in the closet when doing high impact activities like running.
Crocs also don’t make a good footwear choice for:
- long walks
When exercising, it’s always a good idea to wear shoes specifically designed for the activity you have in mind.
When standing or walking for a long time
If you spend most of the day standing or walking, you might be tempted to wear Crocs since they feel comfortable.
They may feel nice on your feet, but they don’t provide the support you need when walking or standing for long periods of time. As a result, you’ll probably have sore feet later on.
That’s why Weiser suggests choosing a shoe that offers both arch and heel support.
If you’re an older adult
“I generally recommend that older adults avoid wearing Crocs unless their feet and ankles are very swollen,” Weiser says.
This is because Crocs can cause some people to fall. As mentioned, Crocs aren’t particularly good at helping you maintain balance, especially since they don’t provide heel support.
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If you’re choosing footwear for your child
Weiser also recommends that children avoid wearing Crocs, especially if the child is very physically active.
“Children should wear a more protective shoe since they can easily injure themselves if they wear Crocs while running around,” he explains. “Crocs do not have what is required to control the heel, support the arch, and maintain stability.”
If you’re a Croc lover, you might want to switch footwear — or at least visit a podiatrist — if you experience foot pain.
The following signs might suggest it’s time to ditch your Crocs for good:
- sudden and prolonged arch pain
- smelly or itchy feet
- sudden onset of tendonitis of the heel
- newly developed blisters
- heel pain
If you change footwear but your feet concerns persist, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your primary care doctor, a podiatrist, or a physiotherapist.
If you love comfortable shoes but need better arch support, a few alternatives to Crocs may promote better overall foot health. Many brands also make clog-like shoes that resemble Crocs.
For running and other forms of exercise, try to opt for specially designed exercise sneakers. Different exercise sneakers are suitable for different activities, so it can help to start by double-checking what your sneakers are designed for. For instance, hiking shoes might not work well for weightlifting and vice versa.
Slip-on sneakers can also make a good option if you like the ease of slipping on Crocs but need some extra support. Mules offer another slip-on option, but since they also lack heel support, they might not be the best choice if you have foot pain or plantar fasciitis.
It’s always a good idea to try on a shoe in person, if possible, and walk around the store to feel how comfortable it is. Consider the following:
- Weight: Is it lightweight enough?
- Breathability: Does the upper shoe allow for airflow?
- Heel and arch support: Do my toes grip the shoe to prevent it from falling off? Does the middle of my foot feel supported?
Still not sure which footwear to choose? You can always ask a podiatrist or physiotherapist. This may be a good first step if you have a foot condition or if you want a shoe that can support your feet when running or doing other high impact activities.
Many people enjoy wearing Crocs. They’re lightweight, comfortable, and roomy, which makes them ideal for a range of activities.
On the other hand, their lack of arch support can cause issues like plantar fasciitis, while their plastic construction may give you sweaty, smelly feet.
So, while Crocs may work perfectly well in some situations, you may want to skip them if you plan to do high impact activities, like running, or if you’re flat-footed or prone to foot pain.
If you often wear Crocs and notice aches and pains in your feet, you may want to check in with a doctor and try a different kind of shoe.
Sian Ferguson is a freelance health and cannabis writer based in Cape Town, South Africa. She’s passionate about empowering readers to take care of their mental and physical health through science-based, empathetically delivered information.