Educational Articles

Are Clogs a Foot-Healthy Choice?

Posted By Robyn Hughes, ND

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The above content is for educational or informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or augment professional medical instruction, diagnosis, or treatment. Read full disclaimer here.

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Comments
April 20, 2015
Kris

Good info. Just got into living “barefoot” style. Really loving it. I always loved my Croc clogs, but I see now that they were really bad in a bunch of ways. Life is much better with minimalist shoes.

April 20, 2015
Natural Footgear

Thank you for your comment, Kris! I’m happy to hear that you’re enjoying your minimalist shoes and “barefoot” living. If you ever have any questions about natural approaches to foot and toe health, please do let me know; I’m happy to help out however I can!

Kind regards,
Marty Hughes

April 20, 2015
Lori Simpson

I just purchased some Danskos for my nursing school shoes. I have been trying to break them in, but they are hurting the top of my foot and do not seem willing to stretch out as advertised. I am about to send them back, if possible. Anyway, I have hard orthotics from a podiatrist that were fitted over a decade ago to deal with my extensive heel spurs/plantar fasciitis. I was told that the heel spurs came from wearing shoes that did not support my feet properly. The orthotics do make my feet more comfortable. I was told never to go barefoot again, as I used to do that often, and wear flats that had no arch support at all and no heel. I am very confused by all the different opinions I see. All I know is that going barefoot hurts my heels very much, even though I like it on the rest of my feet. I cannot imagine running barefoot–my heels would just die. Where can I go for information about MY feet? What should I look for in a podiatrist? They all seem to say different stuff.

April 20, 2015
Natural Footgear

Hi, Lori,

Thank you for your comments. You’re exactly right about there being contradicting information concerning foot health. Our approach involves addressing what’s most often the underlying cause of common foot and toe ailments: unhealthy footwear. Our goal is to restore proper foot anatomy and function by allowing the foot to function like a bare foot inside of the shoe. There are a lot reasons why this method is effective for most people most of the time, and if you read through the site, especially the Foot Anatomy 101 page (www.naturalfootgear.com/pages/foot-anatomy-101) and the Education section (www.naturalfootgear.com/blogs/education), you’ll find information regarding natural foot health methods.

Also, a lot of folks who experience heel discomfort benefit from incorporating heel cups (www.naturalfootgear.com/products/tulis-heel-cups) into their foot health routine.

If you have further questions, please just send them our way.

Kind Regards,
Andrew Potter

April 20, 2015
Peter

I have read the article about clogs with great interest. I was at the point of purchasing a pair of wooden sandals for my girlfriend. However, having read the atricle, I really got confused whether or not it is a foot-healthy choice indeed. Do the merely flat wooden sandals without any heel elevation also have the abovemetioned negative impact on the feet?

April 20, 2015
Natural Footgear

Hi, Peter,

Thank you for your message. It’s hard for us to determine whether a particular shoe is foot-healthy without the opportunity to try them out in person. Our experience has led us to believe that a foot-healthy shoe is one that allows your foot to rest like a bare foot inside the shoe. A flat sole is one way you can allow this to happen, but it’s also often necessary that the sole of the shoe be more flexible and less rigid (www.naturalfootgear.com/blogs/education/17911672-rigid-soles).

I hope this has helped answer your question. If you have further questions or concerns, feel free to contact us at info@naturalfootgear.com, and we’ll be happy to help however we can!

Kind Regards,
Andrew Potter

August 03, 2015
Diane

I have hallux rigidus and find stiff/rigid soles such as clogs with rocker bottoms to be the most accommodating for my feet. Do you have another suggestion?

August 11, 2015
Natural Footgear

Greetings, Diane,

Thank you for your post. We always encourage people to listen to what their bodies are asking of them and what their bodies are saying would feel best and most supportive. It can vary widely from one body to another.

While we embrace the flexible-sole approach to footwear, we also recognize it is not for everybody. We emphatically endorse all of the footgear we offer on our website for most bodies, most of the time. Every model we offer features a flexible footbed, and we highly recommend that people who opt to venture this route take the appropriate time to adjust in order to afford their bodies a chance to really assess the new input, verifying whether it is a good fit for one or many conditions present in the body.

We also believe if someone has found what works for her/him, there might not be any need to make changes. Whatever the course you choose, we applaud your efforts in seeking your happiest, healthiest feet!

Kind regards,
Sarah K. Schuetz

August 02, 2016
Victoria

Two years ago I was wearing clogs constantly for work, mainly because the ones I had found came from a nursing uniform store, were on sale, and had the best arch support of any shoe I could find at the time (I needed arch support to avoid foot pain then). I never attributed them to the bunions I started to develop; I just assumed they were a part of life associated with years of poor shoes in general, when in reality, the firm leather of the clogs probably prevented my toes from getting the room they needed.

In the end, I couldn’t wear any shoe at all. I was literally wearing slippers or mesh water/boat shoes and using crutches because I was going to fall down from the pain. I ended up having surgery on my right bunion. I’ve been having trouble finding shoes that don’t inflame even the repaired bunion, so I’m finally taking the plunge with some of your products.

August 02, 2016
Natural Footgear

Hi, Victoria,

Thank you for your sharing your story. I know that a lot of folks out there can relate. We are here to help you however we can with customer service, blog articles, and sizing information for every product. A first approach that many people have found helpful is to adopt Correct Toes as part of a daily foot care routine:

www.naturalfootgear.com/collections/toe-spacers/products/correct-toes

Correct Toes helps increase circulation, strengthen intrinsic foot muscles, and promote natural arch support. In addition, Correct Toes will guide your big toe and your other toes in line with their corresponding metatarsal bones, helping to prevent a recurrence of your bunion.

A lot of folks with similar considerations have found that Lems Primal 2 shoes are an excellent starting point for postsurgical foot rehabilitation:

www.naturalfootgear.com/collections/womens-lems-primal-2-shoes

I have included some resources below that I think may be helpful to you as you progress through the foot rehabilitation process:

Bunions:
www.naturalfootgear.com/blogs/education/17856628-bunions

Big Toe Stretch:
www.naturalfootgear.com/blogs/education/17856416-big-toe-stretch

Bunions & Heredity:
www.naturalfootgear.com/blogs/education/17856668-bunions-heredity

Natural Arch Support:
www.naturalfootgear.com/blogs/education/17888744-natural-arch-support

Free e-Course on Bunions:
www.naturalfootgear.com/pages/do-you-have-foot-pain

Bunions: Conventional vs. Natural Approaches:
www.naturalfootgear.com/blogs/education/17856712-bunions-conventional-vs-natural-approaches

Six Ways to Restore Foot Health After Surgery:
www.naturalfootgear.com/blogs/education/17914760-six-ways-to-restore-foot-health-after-surgery

Kind regards,
Laura Trentman

February 13, 2018
Becky

So, what are some minimalist brands you’d recommend? Most seem to be geared toward athletic shoes and obviously many of us need work appropriate options.

February 13, 2018
Natural Footgear

Hi, Becky,

Thank you for your question! We totally understand the foot-healthy work shoe dilemma.

As far as what we carry, we’d recommend the Ahinsa Ananda Ballerina (www.naturalfootgear.com/collections/womens-shoes/products/ahinsa-ananda-ballerina-black) or the Lems Primal 2 in Black (www.naturalfootgear.com/collections/womens-shoes/products/lems-primal-2-black-1). Depending on your work environment, you may even be able to use the Lems Boulder Boot (www.naturalfootgear.com/collections/womens-lems-boulder-boots).

If you have further questions, or want some more specific recommendations based on your work environment, please let do us know!

Kind Regards,
Andrew Potter

October 19, 2018
Debbie

I have “Morton’s toe.” What footwear do you recommend, and do you have round metatarsal pads, quarter-size, to place just under the big toe?

October 19, 2018
Natural Footgear

Hi, Debbie,

Thank you for your comment and questions.

For folks with Morton’s toe, we typically recommend the same kind of footwear that we normally do; that is, footwear that’s widest at the ends of the toes, completely flat from heel to toe, and flexible in the sole. The key is to get the sizing right, such that the shoe accommodates the longer second toe. You don’t want that longer toe repeatedly bumping into the end of your shoe’s toe box when walking or running.

At this time, we do not offer the kind of metatarsal pads that you’re inquiring about, but if anything changes on that front, we will most definitely let you know.

Kind regards,
Marty Hughes, DC

February 21, 2021
Perri Maysen

When I first read this article, I was gleeful. I had just replied at length to an article elsewhere that was touting the supposed benefits of Dansko clogs and criticizing a healthier sandal. But even though I know we all need to reset our indoctrinated views of “good-looking” shoes, and even though I will never wear pointy-toes, spike-heeled, or zero-protection “women’s shoes,” I am pretty disgusted at your options here. Both of the women’s shoes—especially the rubber lace “foot gloves”—scream, “no, I don’t have to hold a job in professional America,” and both are impractical in anything like wet or cold weather. If you work in a co-op health food store in Portland or are a tenured art or anthropology professor in an obscure liberal arts school, you could wear the “ballerina” shoes. Otherwise, you will not be appreciated (and is there anything more damaging to feet than REAL ballerina toe shoes?). Isn’t that an ironic name for any foot-friendly shoe? Women who’d be persuaded by that “feminine-sounding” shoe name would be horrified by the naturally hairy legs and lack of socks that apparently go best with these shoes, judging by the photos. Where are the low-key oxfords for women, as you have for men? Seriously: We get combat boots, thin ballerina sock-shoes, and baby-pink rubber lace toe gloves? As for the pink lace, they look a little creepy, though I like pink. Just skin colors or basic black or toe gloves, or maybe sporty neons … please. But realistically, if I were able to wear these to a backyard BBQ in middle America—where I have to live and work—without being talked about for weeks, I’d be amazed. So while I, too, wish for a world where our bodies are allowed to be more natural, these options are unrealistic for most working people, and the stylistic leap is too far to make in one jump for me. Specifically, the men-only options other than the boots are decidedly more stylistically and practically middle-of-the-road (and therefore real-world friendly) than the creepy “feminine” options for women.

February 21, 2021
Natural Footgear

Hi, Perri,

Thank you for writing in. You shared a lot of very interesting points in your comment above! While I disagree with most of them, your point about there being a dearth in what would appear to be typically “feminine” foot-healthy footwear options is noted. This aspect of the foot-healthy shoe movement has been a little slower to hit its stride, but I predict there will be more options for women, specifically, appearing on the market over time. Keep checking back for new models every now and then, and in the meantime, please do feel free to reach out to the individual manufacturers with your thoughts and requests.

Kind regards,
Robyn Hughes, ND

February 21, 2021
Susan

I am a healthcare worker. I have been wearing clogs for 20 years. There are several things I like about clogs: I like the look of clogs, the height they give because I am short, and their durability. I do have a large bunion on my left foot. I do wear Correct Toes after working all day. They seem to help. I need a shoe that does not look like a sneaker and gives me some elevation. HELP!

February 21, 2021
Natural Footgear

Hi, Susan,

Thank you for your comment. I know that, in the past, a lot of healthcare workers have enjoyed using Crocs while on the job. Certainly, not all models or colors might be appropriate for a healthcare setting, but (at least at the time of writing this reply), there is a clog-like Crocs model called the Specialist II that, while not perfect in terms of foot-healthy features (it has some heel elevation and at least some degree of built-in “arch support,” for example), looks better than most other options out there. Best of all, though, is if you can adopt a shoe such as the Lems Primal 2 or Ahinsa Bindu 2. Wearing either of these models will keep your feet happy all throughout your shift.

Kind regards,
Robyn Hughes, ND

February 22, 2021
Lelani

I have nearly flat feet. Almost no arch at all. I also broke my ankle this year and still have pain. My orthopedist was little to no help, just said get good shoes. I find flat shoes hurt my feet and find my ankle sorer when I’m working on them all day. I was looking into clogs but after this article, I think not. What kind of shoe would you recommend? I also need a slip-resistant shoe, as I work in a nursing home.

February 22, 2021
Natural Footgear

Hi, Lelani,

Thank you for your comment. I’m sorry to hear about the foot problems you’ve been experiencing. I suspect you might see some improvements in your foot arch height/strength, ankle stability, and foot comfort with the adoption of Correct Toes toe spacers. Using Correct Toes could be a game-changer if the device is paired with a comfortable zero drop shoe with a sufficiently wide toe box to accommodate the spacers (and, therefore, optimal toe splay). I can’t make any specific footwear recommendations for you without seeing you in person, but there are a number of models out there that possess a nice wide toe box, offer you a comfortable fit, and provide you with excellent traction. Avoiding clogs is always a good strategy in our books, so I think you’re on the right track there.

All the best,
Robyn Hughes, ND

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