Although you might consider them a serious fashion statement (or a major fashion faux pas), there’s no getting around the popularity of Crocs. But a quick Google search might have you reconsider outfitting your kid in Crocs entirely. Are Crocs okay for your kid’s feet? Or will wearing the clog-esque shoes damage her tootsies? Here’s what podiatrists want you to know about Crocs — the good, the bad, and the… well, you know.
Crocs came onto the fashion scene back in 2002. The lightweight shoe was supposed to be designed as a slip-on shoe for boating, since it boasts a nonslip tread and it’s also waterproof, WebMD reported. Ironically, Crocs are beneficial to people who already have foot problems, since their super wide front offers comfort and room for feet that have bone issues such as bunions and hammer toe.
Sounds great, right? But the problem is not necessarily with the front of the shoe (or even its appearance), but the rear. Since Crocs are backless, they don’t provide enough support for the feet. “When kids wear Crocs, their heel is allowed to be excessively mobile because of the wide nature of the shoes and the loose strap around the heel,” Dr. Dana Canuso, a podiatrist, tells Romper. “This mobility does not give adequate support to the rear foot which can lead to flat arches and hyperpronation as they get older.” Over time, flat feet can cause common foot complaints such as plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, bunions and hammertoes — exactly what Crocs were created to prevent in the first place. And if you’re walking incorrectly, the problems can become more pronounced as you get older, even causing knee, hip and back pain.
Maybe the issue isn’t about the Croc itself, but when you introduce them as part of your child’s footwear that can cause the problem. “I’m actually not opposed to a child wearing Crocs as long as they are walking mechanically the right way and picking up their foot with each step,” Dr. Emily Splichal, a podiatrist, tells Romper. “If the child can control the mobility of the foot there is no negative to wearing Crocs.” So for a child who already knows how to walk well (and not, say, a baby or a toddler), wearing Crocs wouldn’t necessarily change her gait. That said, “if your child has a flat foot, needs extra arch support, or shuffles her feet when she walks, she might not be cut out for Crocs,” says Dr. Splichal.
Ideally, you should look for shoes that give your child the support they need. “As children’s feet are developing, they should be in a supportive, lace-up shoe that protects their feet from the elements and helps them create a rearfoot and arch that is conducive to proper walking,” says Dr. Canuso. “By far, the best shoe for active kids is a supportive running sneaker that laces up to their ankle.”
That doesn’t mean that you have to chuck all your kid’s Crocs, though. With their wide toe box and ability to allow for full motion of the foot, Crocs aren’t all that bad. It seems, then, that in short stints, Crocs are okay for your child to wear. But you wouldn’t want her to wear them for an extended period of time, or do a long distance run in them, either. As long as your child doesn’t have any foot issues and can control her feet when she walks, then Crocs can become a cute part of her wardrobe.
And that’s not a crock (er) Croc.