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Crocs: Healthy Shoes or Just Comfy?

Do those eye-catching shoes have a place in good foot care? Doctors and consumers share their views.

Professional Skepticism

Crocs have the official seal of approval from the APMA, meaning the shoes have been found to be beneficial in promoting good foot and ankle care. But not all doctors have signed on to the medical value of the shoes.

"They are very light weight and are good for people who have trouble walking," says Bob Baravarian, MD, chief of foot and ankle surgery at Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center. "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."

Baravarian says Crocs have more positive attributes than negative, but they're no substitute for the real deal.

"Because the shoe is considered medical, it gets overused by people who need more support than they can get from the shoe," Baravarian tells WebMD. "It's not as good as an orthotic or a medical type shoe; it's made out to be better than it is."

And it's not made for marathon wear either, adds Baravarian.

"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," says Baravarian.

Some doctors haven't crossed paths yet with Croc fans.

"Boy, I have never heard of the shoes, and haven't had patients who tried them -- that I know of," says Richard Deyo, MD, a professor of medicine and health services at the University of Washington in Seattle. "I guess I'm out of touch with the popular culture!"

And until a clinical trial published in medical journal says so, he probably won't be recommending them to patients.

"I'm a professional skeptic, and that applies here as well," says Deyo. "Unless they have some persuasive randomized trials, I'd regard the therapeutic claims as theoretical."

What Crocs Fans Say

People who wear Crocs are die-hard fans, and stand by -- and in -- the shoes all day long.

"I saw them in a store, and I tried them on, and ended up with a pair that are light pink," says Jamie Jessick, a registered nurse at Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center. "I like that they're really light and comfortable."

For Jessick, who is on her feet for hours at a time, a comfortable pair of shoes is a must-have.

"They're so comfortable that it's like wearing slippers at work," says Jessick, who is part of a small minority that actually finds the shoes attractive.

"I thought they were cute, that's why I bought them, but turns out they're also comfortable," Jessick tells WebMD, adding that her colleagues are catching on, too. "A couple of nurses have tried them on and seem interested in them."

While it seems the jury is still out on these shoes, Crocs have been spotted almost everywhere, from hospitals to hockey rinks, beaches, boats, and even Hollywood.

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Reviewed on May 21, 2008

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