Wearing those rubber slippers known as “Crocs” might just be one of the most polarizing fashion trends of our time. Some people think they’re hideous; others don’t care: Crocs, they say, are just so gosh darn comfortable.
Well, love ’em or hate ’em, it turns out their looks shouldn’t be what concerns the public about these shoes. Doctors have some warnings about wearing Crocs for more than just a few minutes per day…
Since they were first released in 2002, the lounge shoes called Crocs have been donned by well-known people: George W. Bush, Drew Barrymore, and Helen Mirren, to name a few.
Still, critics of Crocs — of which, by 2016, over 300 million pairs were sold — love bashing them as the token footwear of those who have given up on fashion and style. But critics and lovers alike shared one question…
Appearances aside, are Crocs practical shoes? In 2016, podiatrists weighed in on the polarizing shoe, answering once and for all if the dishwasher-safe slipper makes for a good everyday shoe.
Dr. Alex Kor, below, the president of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine, started his comments on Crocs by drawing the audience’s attention to the shoe shank.
He explained that shank is a support structure in the shoe found between the heel and toe. “Patients,” he said, “are more likely to have foot pain if their shoes bend in the shank.” So what does that mean for Crocs?
Crocs “are the ‘poster child’ for shoes with a flexible shank,” Dr. Kor said. “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.”
See, the shoe was created for boaters: something with slip-resistant soles you could submerge in water without fear of toppling overboard or off a dock. It wasn’t designed for general lounging. Still…
That doesn’t mean Croc owners should just toss their slippers in the trash. Dr. Megan Leahy, a podiatrist with the Illinois Bone and Joint Institute, and Dr. Kor agreed on a few solid purposes for them.
Dr. Leahy said Crocs, of course, are perfect for their original purpose and other aquatic needs. They’re “OK to use for trips to the beach or the pool,” she said. Dr. Kor offered another use for the shoe.
“The only two types of patients that may benefit from wearing Crocs,” Dr. Kor said, “are patients that have a very high arch or those who suffer from excessive edema of their legs and ankle.”
The two doctors were unanimous in their warnings, however: these aren’t shoes that can be safely worn for a few hours per day. “These shoes do not adequately secure the heel,” Dr. Leahy said. She continued…
“When the heel is unstable,” she said, “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.”
Indeed, like Crocs, flip flops are another shoe worn for comfort that experts have lambasted and criticized for a variety of reasons — those mentioned above are just a handful of them.
As with Crocs, experts pointed out that flip flops can mess with your posture, causing back and neck pain. Worse, flip-flops do little to soften the heel-to-floor impact, which can damage your heel.
But the negative effects of flip flops and, more pressingly, Crocs, don’t always take place over a long time. According to the Washington D.C. Metro, Crocs impose more immediate dangers…
Around 2007 — during the Croc’s rise — the Washington D.C. Metro and other public transit stations put up dozens of signs. Some signs did not mention Crocs, but featured a crocodile.
The purpose of the signs? To warn people wearing Crocs or flip-flops to be careful on the escalators! Between 2005 and 2007, one Metro spokesperson said, four or five people per week got their shoes stuck in the moving stairways.
In fact, Rory McDermott, a four-year-old Washington D.C. boy caught one of his Crocs in an escalator. His mother managed to yank him free, but he didn’t escape unharmed.
The escalator ripped off Rory’s toenail, sending the boy to the emergency room. Later, his mother “came home and typed ‘Croc’ and ‘escalator’ into Google and all these stories came up. If I had known, those would never have been worn.”
So at the end of the day, yeah, Crocs might be comfortable. But unless you need to stay upright poolside or starboard, consider leaving them in the closet — that’s what the data and experts suggest.
Daniele Codebò / Flickr
Crocs are the kinda kicks that you’re either on board with or you’re not. But no matter what side of the croc divide you fall on, one thing we all can agree on is that shoe maintenance is probably not something we put much thought into. However, with a few quick and simple tricks, you’ll be showing off your new steps at every opportunity.
1. Restore shoe whiteness using toothpaste: That Colgate in your bathroom cabinet doesn’t just whiten your teeth; the stuff that helps your enamel retain its bright color will efficiently strip dirt and grime off of your kicks.
2. Clean leather with rubbing alcohol: If you pour a little bit of rubbing alcohol onto a paper towel and run it over leather shoes, you won’t believe how much dirt it picks up. The alcohol immediately cuts through even the most stubborn grime.
3. Freshen up your sneakers with baking soda: We’ve all had our noses suffer due to stinky shoes, so what exactly can be done about it? Pour a bit of baking soda inside them! It’s a natural deodorizer, and it’ll give them that “brand new” smell once more.
4. Use a nail file to banish scratches: It’s nearly impossible for a shoe to live its whole life without suffering a scratch or two. The good news is there’s a solution for unsightly scratches! Rub a nail file over the affected areas and those marks will buff right out in no time.
5. Soak shoes in a vinegar solution to get rid of bad smells: For this trick, mix equal parts water and white vinegar and pour it into a spray bottle. Then douse your shoes with it to refresh even the smelliest kicks.
6. Shine patent leather with petroleum jelly: You might think petroleum jelly is only used for cosmetic purposes, but it actually works wonders on footwear, too. If you apply a thin layer of Vaseline to your shoes, they’ll gleam like diamonds.
7. Use cornmeal to absorb suede stains: Suede is a very fickle material. It looks great, but as soon as something stains it—even water—it’s almost impossible to remove. Luckily, a sprinkle of cornmeal is the answer!
8. Use a hair dryer to stretch out new shoes: Sometimes you try on shoes in the store and they seem to fit perfectly, but when you get home and put them on, they’re a little tight. Don some woolly socks and use a hairdryer to “dry” your shoes to help mold them to your feet.
9. Loosen too-tight shoes in the freezer: Another way to help loosen shoes is to fill plastic bags with water, place them in your shoes, and then pop the shoes in a freezer. As the water turns to ice, the bags will expand, stretching your shoes to the ideal size.
10. Rub sandpaper on soles to enhance the grip: When you buy new shoes, the soles are intact and the rubber allows you to traverse even the slipperiest surfaces. Over time, however, the soles wear thin, but if you give them a good sanding with some coarse sandpaper, it will actually turn your shoes from no-grip to no-slip!
11. Gel deodorant helps prevent blisters: If you don’t wear socks with shoes, your Achilles heels can chafe due to the constant contact. But, if you smear a bit of gel deodorant on the heel area, it prevents this problem completely! Plus, it makes your feet smell nice.
12. Tape your toes together to avoid pain: High heels typically squeeze your toes together, there’s a solution! Taping together your middle toe and the toe next to your pinky will alleviate a lot of the strain put on your feet during those long nights out.
13. Waterproof shoes with beeswax: A rainstorm can hit at any moment, and let’s face it: your footwear isn’t always prepared to face a downpour. However, if you spread a thin layer of beeswax over any shoe, it becomes waterproof!
14. Absorb moisture using newspaper: If you happen to step in a deep puddle, it might seem like the insides of your shoes will never dry. But, if you crumple a few newspaper pages inside, they’ll help absorb the moisture.
15. Embrace no-tie shoelaces to avoid tripping: The new wave of no-tie laces has been quickly taking over shoe stores everywhere. They may cost a little more than regular sneakers, but if you’re the kind of person who frequently trips over untied laces, they’re worth the investment.
16. Use a bread tag to fix broken flip-flops: The straps on flip-flops tend to pull out of their holes. If you can’t get to the store and you need a quick fix, try attaching a plastic bread tag to the bottom to keep them in place!
17. Alleviate shoe squeaks using baby powder: No one wants to be the person strutting through a completely silent room with squeaky shoes, which is caused by the friction of your foot against the inside material. To avoid the embarrassment, just sprinkle baby powder in there.
18. Store your kicks the right way: Most people just toss their shoes into a pile by the door when they get home. But did you know it actually does more harm that good? If you invest in a shoe organizer, your footwear will stay in better condition for longer.
19. Use heel protectors to prevent sinking into sand or gravel: When you wear heels on uneven terrain, you’re taking gamble with your ankles. Heel protectors offer a widened end for those super-skinny heels so you won’t roll your ankle if you accidentally step into a gap in the sidewalk.
20. Soak feet in tea to soothe blisters: This hack may not necessarily have to do with shoes, but since your feet sit in them all day, it’s important! The anti-inflammatory properties in tea work magic on your feet, soothing both blisters and chafing.