Published on www.stuff.co.nz 21st March 2023.
A footwear favourite of some, the humble croc has cost the taxpayer $36,351 in the year to March 2023 with people literally falling over them, according to data made available by ACC.
With 51 active croc-related claims paid out in the past 12 months, the shoe was to blame for injuries sustained to all parts of the body. Of new claims made during this period, 15 injuries were related to the foot, eight related to the ankle and the remainder of injuries were suffered across the body. Soft tissue injuries accounted for 25 of the new claims made, with those in the 65-plus age group appearing in the data the most frequently. New croc related claims were made on ten occasions in Auckland, seven times in Canterbury, six in Wellington, four in the Bay of Plenty, and the balance elsewhere across the regions.
The inclusion of the term “croc” on an ACC claim, is down to whether the patient declares the footwear in their injury themselves. While crocs are not necessarily worse for your feet overall than other footwear choices, lead podiatrist at Hamilton-based Waikato Podiatry Clinic, Andrew Jones says it’s a matter of “horses for courses”. Practicing for more than two decades, he says that the shoe should suit the occasion, and while a croc might be good for “around the house,” it’s certainly not made for tramping in. The material used to produce crocs is also of a less durable construction, says Jones. “Some of the things I’ve seen with crocs: the manufacturing of them is reasonably cheap, although you wouldn’t think that now because they cost $85. They don’t have an outsole and a midsole, they’re just one material in themselves. That in itself is quite soft. There’s an inverse relationship between softness and durability.” A slippery surface can really put the croc to the test, Jones says. “They are bloody dynamite. If you have a worn croc on a polished concrete floor that is wet … it’s like skating on ice. That’s something people really need to be aware of.” Supported by the data, Jones says older croc wearers ought to beware.
“In the elderly population footwear is certainly a fall risk. That’s a big problem, because fractured neck of femurs and those things can be life changing injuries … They need to be probably a little more proactive in selecting shoes; if they have a fastening, if they have a midsole with a resonable level of density, an outersole, a heel counter.” Jones’ personal recommendation for a croc-like alternative is the venerable birkenstock. A moulded foot bed and buckle fastening offer better support and durability, he says.