Why you shouldn’t wear Danskos: 21

I see patients with foot pain daily. The vast majority fall into two occupations: postal workers, or nurses (or within the employ of a hospital). This blog is aimed more for the healthcare profession, however, both these professions (and many others) are on their feet for many long hours every working day. They naturally search for footwear which are comfortable, easy on the feet, and stylish if at all possible. The hospital employed crowd turns to one brand of shoewear the majority of the time: Danskos.

Danksos: glorified clogs. Small heel, rigid, and a God-send for those who have foot pain at work. I’ve been told it’s like a hug of relief for someone with sore feet.

Shouldn’t I be happy that my patients have found relief from their affliction? Why would I not recommend something that gives pain relief?

Let’s go over the Dansko:

You’ll note that there is a decent heel in these shoes, good lasts (sides) for the foot support and a nice thick sole which, if felt, is quite rigid. Your foot, once in these shoes, isn’t moving. When the foot isn’t required to move, you eliminate the vast majority of postural dysfunctions and pain in the foot related to poor mobility control. Good right?

Not Exactly- let’s take a look at our natural foot mechanics and the requirements of motion for a ‘normal’ gait cycle.

Take a look at this picture of someone the computer pictured with a normal gait. The patient is in loading phase on the right foot and terminal stance/preswing on the left leg. I want to focus on the left leg first. Note that the foot has gone to some extreme angles to perform this act. Look at the big toe: it extends to nearly 90 degrees to allow for loading across the great toe. Literature would suggest this needs to be at least 70 degrees to keep a normal gait. The plantar fascia attaches to all our toes. This, in turn, must get stretched out when the toes go into extension – this particular tissue has some elastic capabilities and will provide some assistance in bringing the foot back to neutral once unloaded to prepare it to handle the weight of the person when it becomes loaded.

Once we load our weight onto our foot, we need to transfer that weight over the ankle to propel us forward. This requires the ankle to go into dorsiflexion. Dorsiflexion is the when the foot moves towards the shin – current literature suggests that this should 10-20 degrees. This is measured relative to the ankle in standing. A neutral ankle is considered perpendicular to the shin – more is dorsiflexion, less is considered plantarflexion.

As you can see in this model, the stick characters right leg, when in ‘terminal stance’ needs to have some dorsiflexion to it. To allow this to happen, the calf musculature needs to be flexible and long to accommodate for this range of motion.


Now lets go back to the Dansko:
Elevated heel: this serves to point the toe (plantarflex) and shorten the calf. This large amount of plantarflexion reduces the need to dorsiflex to achieve a forward weight shift. In fact, when wearing a shoe with a heel, you NEVER go into dorsiflexion to achieve propulsion.

Stiff Sole: This serves to eliminate the need for the plantar fascia to stretch out, the need for the great toe to extend and effectively removes the pre-swing phase from our gait patterns. Without a plantar fascia stretch, without great toe extension, the foot is kept neutral and without any motion at all occuring in the foot or ankle. This feels good to the patient who has foot problems – this effectively removes the strain on foot tissues. Thus why Danksos are so popular.

I completely agree that Dankso shoewear will eliminate pain in most cases. My issue occurs when patients then take their Danksos off.

Now we are presented with a patient who, for most of their work week, has shortened their calf, tightened their plantar fascia, and limited their great toe extension. This is a patient who now steps into a shoe which allows all these motions to occur. The foot has not been routinely exposed to this and suddenly strains, tears, and inflammation occur as a result of rapid and excessive movement introduction.

The moral of this story? Danksos will most likely take away your foot pain. BUT, this occurs at the cost of removing all normal foot movement from your foot and ankle. Injuries occur when we ask the foot who has been stiffened up to perform motions and mobility it isn’t primed to do when placed in alternative shoewear.
These shoes, while eliminating pain in the short term, present alterations in normal gait that will eventually lead to a myriad of issues in the long term.

That doesn’t sound like a solution I want to be a part of.

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21 thoughts on “Why you shouldn’t wear Danskos:

    • eChristensen Post author

      It depends on the type of foot. Each foot has its unique structure that would need to be assessed.

  • Linda Sass

    I have plantar faciitis and am wondering which shoes you recommend? I only have it in my left foot. Birkenstocks are the shoes that I have found give me the most and fastest relief from the pain. Dansko are better than some, but not the comfort I get from Birks. Since I only have one pair of Birks and would like to get another pair of shoes I can wear on a regular basis, I would like to have some recommendations prior to shopping and buying another pair.


    • eChristensen Post author

      It’s very hard to recommend a specific shoe without looking at your foot further. I’d recommend seeing a physical therapist who can evaluate your feet and then asses the whole core and hip complex too. I’ve often found more plantar fasciitis is related to hip insufficiency than shoewear really, the shoes just help offset the dysfunction in the short term.

  • Linda

    About Danskos: I turned my ankle more than once and broke my distal 5th metatarsal within a month of purchasing these shoes. The break occured as I quickly rounded the corner of my desk–a move I had done thousands of times before. I feel I was properly sized. My heel is narrow. I am now hearing a lot of comments about women turning their ankles in Danskos.

    • eChristensen Post author

      I agree Linda, the heel isn’t secure and promotes sloppy foot rotation/ inversion in lieu of control at the ankle.

    • Jaki

      Linda, I wish I had read these comments earlier. On Jan. 20, I fell whhile wearing my Dansko shoes and fracture my 5th metatarsal (a Jones fracture), as well. It’s been slow healing and I’ve lost my position at work…and, it HAPPENED at work!

      Like I said, I wish I had known about the hazzards of wearing these shoes.

  • michele rice

    i just got home from a three day hospital stay after falling in a pair of Danskos. i was wearing them around the house to break them in, fell off a stair, shattered my shoulder in five pieces and will be off work 6 weeks for the beginning of a six month recovery. why is such a flawed product on the market?

  • Michelle M.

    I have worn Danskos for 15+ yrs working as a Registered Nurse. I wear Danskos daily now because my feet are too painful in any other shoes, unless they also have a slight heel on them. I often have wondered if wearing Danskos so often has, in fact, been what has led to my now almost constant foot pain. I believe that this is the problem because the pain always present. . . until I put on the Danskos.

    • eChristensen Post author

      It can be a vicious circle of shoewear. Danskos are comfortable when wearing them. But outside of those shoes, often, finding another comfortable shoe is difficult and can lead to more pain!

  • I Vetto

    I recently purchased Dansko for all the same reasons others have (including pain from falling arches) and now have an exacerbation of my tibial tendinitis. I have found my Saucony running shoes with orthotic inserts to provide the best relief. The problem is they don’t go particularly well with dress pants or skirts. Very frustrating.

  • Marilyn Jenkins

    Well, I just love my danskos,I’m a professional hair stylist for over fifteen years only working three days a week.I guess I’m ok with this article,I can understand how you have to have your foot move freely which I do when I don’t wear my danskos,but I love them so much,I also wear them to the mall when I do a lot of walking,so my point is don’t wear them all the time like every day but get them because when you do wear them you’ll be a much happier person !!

  • Olivia

    Has anyone had luck getting reimbursed for their Danskos? I am a student nurse and rolled BOTH ankles at different times today while casually walking. I bought them because I have plantar fasciitis. I find Orthaheel shoes to be very comfortable, you can buy them on Zappos.

  • Tracie

    I too broke my 5th metatarsil on my left foot almost 2 years ago. It appeared to heal well and I had no foot pain. I purchased Danskos as I heard they were comfortable shoes. But after several months of wearing them daily for work and afterwork, I began to suffer severe pain in my left arch. It started to feel like I was standing on a “lump.” I thought it was some form of arthritis due to my previous injury so began taking anti-arthritis supplements (BioFlex) and IBU for the pain. Eventually, my right arch began to hurt too and both feet ached, especially in the morning or when first standing up on feet. I recently stopped wearing the Danskos and believe my daily foot pain is subsiding. I hope my feet can get back to normal flexion by wearing shoes other than Danskos and going barefoot more. Are there particular exercises that could help?

  • Megan

    As with any shoe, Dansko shoes are not going to be right for everyone in every situation. As eChristensen has told several of the people who have asked to have a shoe recommended, it is hard to recommend a shoe without properly analyzing several aspects of the foot and lower extremities. And even when you do have that done, you have to make sure you go to someone who is properly educated not only on the mechanics of the body but also on footwear and how that relates to what is happening with your body. With all that being said, in regards to Dansko specifically, I don’t believe the leading professional organization representing the nation’s doctors of podiatric medicine, or podiatrists, would give Dansko a Seal of Acceptance certifying that the footwear allows for normal foot function and promotes quality foot health if they were bad for you and your feet.

  • Julia Adrian

    If you are fitted properly and your clogs have a pinky space in the back, your feet should have free movement to bend and stretch properly, similar to walking barefoot, just with well designed arch support to help align you between steps. Dansko clogs bear the seal of approval of the American Podiatric Medical Association. The one inch heel relieves lower back pain and can actually help mimic the foot posture you see children take as they are running, avoiding heel strike. If your feet muscles are week, I suggest the foot and arch exercise programs listed at Merrell/barefoot. I also recommend going barefoot around the house and making an effort to reprogram your brain to mid-strike in your gait instead of heel-striking.

  • Christy Neighbors

    I received a pair of Danskos for Christmas , after the second day of wearing them I have had numbness from the top of my left foot all theway to my big toe, and the two toes beside my big toe……it has been going on 3 weeks now and there seems to be no improvement in the numbness and tingling I am having.

  • Deb McCafferty

    I’m perplexed. I love my Danskos. I don’t wear the clog ones, I wear the high heel models. I find that my feet do far better than in regular high heels. I am mostly barefoot when not at work… work out in bare feet, and yoga, obviously, is in bare feet. I wear good sneakers for hiking and walking. I’ve spent so much time with foot pain, been to three PT’s and two podiatrists, and I just love my Danskos. One of my PT’s said that the rigid sole was not good, which is why I avoided them for so long. But then I got a pair as a gift (niiiiiice gift, right?) and I just love them. The rest of my high heel shoes are collecting dust.

  • Ruth

    I wear Danskos because they feel so good on my feet and I can wear them all day long. They also support my ankles, which is important because I suffered an avulsion fracture last year and was on crutches for several weeks; I do not want to risk reinjury. Lastly, I inherited bunions from my mother, and also suffer from sciatica pain due to a herniated disc in my lower back, and from bursitis in one of my knees. Danskos feel better than any shoe I have ever worn, and are much better than the orthotic insoles prescribed to me by a podiatrist. The orthotic insoles worsened my back and foot pain, so I quit wearing them and sought out more comfortable footwear options. I do a lot of walking, and go up and down stairs several times a day. Maybe Danskos don’t work for everyone, but they most certainly work for me!

  • K. Kasey

    This expert saved me a lot of pain. Thank you. I did solve my plantar fascitis problem by buying a running shoe that was recommended on a website for medium plantar fascitis. And inserting a leather custom made orthotic made by a group of runner foot doctors. The pain went away even though I am on my feet at least 8 hours. I buy these shoes every 3 months because the support wears down in the shoe.

    I was about to buy a pair of danskos because a woman in a bookstore said her foot pain subsided after buying the clogs even though she stands on her feet 8 hours days. I was interested in being able to wear leather shoes rather than running shoes most of the day for a dressier look and always liked the look of danskos. But after reading this very scientific explanation, I am not going to buy them for work.

  • Amy

    I have a question addressing a different Dansko issue. For years I wore the clogs that had the thick ridge of padding covering the top of the shoe. I stopped wearing the clogs after having my 3rd kid as my feet started getting larger. I have been slowly developing a bunion on the top of each foot, right where the ridge of padding rested. Coincidence? I don’t think so. The design of these clogs intended the padding to be a source to secure the clog onto the foot, but what first started innocently as an intended consequence in reality started a process of irritation leading to a painful bunion. Any thoughts?

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