Best Shoes For Nurses & Hospital Staff Reviewed
Nurses spend countless hours everyday walking, standing, bending, and lifting, which is why it is crucial that a nurse has comfortable and supportive footwear. The wrong pair of shoes can cause all sorts of aches and pains and can slow you down, impeding your performance on the job. Did you know that nurses are at a greater risk of developing certain health problems that come from the physical and emotional demands of their profession?
One of the most commonly reported areas of concern among nurses is musculoskeletal disorders, including painful muscles, tendons, joints, and nerves which stem from the many hours spent on their feet. In order to prevent many of these physical problems, a nurse needs to wear a pair of shoes that are going to support the foot, ankle, knee, and back, as well as, protect their feet adequately from the potential hazards associated with working in a hospital environment. It can be difficult finding the right pair of shoes that offer all of the benefits and features required for anyone working in such a demanding field.
- Skechers Sport Loving Life
- Forms to Your Feet
- Skechers Premium-Premix
- Tractioned outsole
- Reebok Work N’ Cushion 3.0
- Easy to Care For
We know how tough it can be to find the right pair of shoes for the job which is why we have comprised this list of the very best shoes for nurses, to help take the guesswork out of choosing the perfect pair of shoes. The items on this list have been chosen after careful research and review in order to bring you the most relevant, highly rated, and up-to-date information to help you in making your decision. We hope to offer a pair that is suitable for any and all Nurses. Keeping yourself comfortable and supported ensures you can give the best care possible to those who need it without being distracted by pain.
15 Best Shoes for Nurses
1. Skechers Sport Loving Life
Skechers is an award-winning leader in the lifestyle footwear industry known for delivering high-quality products at an affordable price. Since 1992 Skechers has been a household name that is synonymous with comfortable footwear.
The Loving Life slip-on includes bungee-style laces for a secure fit and a non-slip rubber outsole that will prevent any accidental slips or falls. Built-in flex grooves allow for a full range of motion and its breathable mesh material provides adequate air flow to keep your feet well ventilated.
Cost & Value
Skechers footwear is always available at a budget-friendly price and the Loving Life is no exception. These stylish slip-on shoes are relatively inexpensive, especially considering the exceptional quality and comfort they bring to the table.
- Rubber Outsole
- Flex Grooves
- Bungee-style Laces
- Mesh Material
- Sizes Run Small
A leather upper and durable non-slip rubber outsole make the Premix a long-lasting and comfortable shoe for work. An EVA midsole, air cushion pockets, and padded footbed keep your feet feeling their best, even while standing for long hours at a time.
A non-slip rubber outsole is both durable and grippy so you won’t have to worry about slips and falls. Feel assured on any surface with the Premix’s superior traction so you can focus on the important tasks at hand instead of worrying about your feet.
Cost & Value
As with all Skechers shoes, the Premix is an affordable option that brings superior comfort and support to protect your feet from tireless hours spent standing on the job. If you need a shoe that has been proven over and over again for its amazing comfort and quality craftsmanship this may be the one for you.
- Leather Upper
- Non-slip Rubber
- 1.5” Heel
- EVA Midsole
- Air Cushion
- Large Sizes
3. Reebok Work N’ Cushion 3.0
An EVA midsole works in combination with a Memory-Tech LT sock liner to deliver maximum cushioning and responsiveness in a nursing shift. No matter how long or how far you walk, your feet and joints will be receiving a minimal amount of shock and stress. Furthermore, the cushioned insole, collar, and tongue are the cherry on the cake for both comfort and absorption.
In a job like nursing, the grip is quite a big deal. This is why the high-abrasion rubber sole makes an excellent element for nursing shoes. Its slippage-preventing qualities are ideal for the hallways of hospitals and nursing centers. What’s more, it’s non-adhering characteristic prevents liquids, oils included, from sticking around to your outsole and causing accidents later on.
Cost & Value
The Work n’ Cushion 3.0 is an excellent value for the best price in our guide. Everything about these shoes is designed to enhance your comfort while on your feet and prevent the aches and pains that are associated with nursing. Keep it affordable and comfortable when you invest in this pair of Reebok shoes.
- Memory-Tech LT Sock Liner
- Beveled Heel
- EVA Midsole
- Leather Upper
- Rubber Outsole
- Break-in Period
4. Nurse Mates Dove
Complete with a removable contoured footbed and EVA midsole, these slip-on shoes will have you walking in comfort for hours on end. Lightweight internal steel shanks provide lateral stability while you move and a rubber slip-resistant outsole will work to prevent any accidental tumbles.
The Nurse Mates Dove is made specifically to meet the needs of nursing staff, including the need for a pristine appearance. The Doves Tumbled Floater leather uppers and a stain resistant finish, mixed with non-marking rubber outsoles will keep you looking your best while you’re at work.
Cost & Value
While they’re not the cheapest shoe on this list, they’re definitely not too expensive either. The Dove's extreme comfort and wearability make these shoes a priceless piece of footwear. In addition, they have been trusted for generations and continue to impress as time moves on.
- Stain-resistant Finish
- EVA Midsole
- Stability Shanks
- Removable Footbed
- Rubber Outsole
- Stiff Upper
5. K-Swiss Tubes Run 100
EVA is a lightweight foam material that is long-lasting and provides a comfortable cushioning. EVA is a durable material that won’t deteriorate under the pressures of standing or walking for hours on end. This type of footbed will conform to your feet keeping you standing comfortably for extended periods of time.
k-EVA Tube System
The k-EVA midsole is made with an innovative tube system that delivers a far more optimal cushioning and shock distribution that the traditional rubber midsole. The tubular system works in combination with the sole grooves that allow a deeper flex on each gait to get the most out of the smallest effort. The tube system also acts as a firm and stable platform for any activity you’re performing.
Cost & Value
K-Swiss is a high-quality performance shoe manufacturer. The downside is that professional performance features come at a price, which in this case exceeds the average cost of the listed products. This by no means says the shoe is not worth it – as it’s adequately equipped for nursing and almost any aerobic (non-extreme) sport you can possibly put them up too.
- Tubes Run 100 Midsole
- k-EVA Midsole
- Perfectly Cushioned
- Deep Flex
Manufacturing Changed Location
6. Dansko Professional Clog
This iconic clog has a closed back and superior arch support that will make this brand of shoe your favorite. Keeping your feet supported will help you maintain comfort throughout your body for the whole day. Finding a pair of shoes that will support your heels, arches, and soles can be difficult but not when you give the Dansko Professional Clog a try.
With a heel measuring two inches, you can count on a natural and comfortable balance. The padded collar supports your ankles for those long hours and it features a rocker-bottom so you can walk with ease. As we know keeping up day after day is hard enough, adding sore feet just makes it even harder.
Cost & Value
This clog can be found online for an impressive price and you can't beat the undeniable comfort and support it offers. This shoe was designed to be worn for high-risk duties and atmospheres. They will last through tough use and they won't break the bank. What more could we ask for?
- Full Support
- Specialized Slip Resistance
- Covered Heel & Toe
- Arch Support
- Rocker Bottom
- Sizes may vary
7. K-Swiss Classic VN
Made with a leather upper, this shoe beams excellent quality and durability. There’s a raised back to support the ankle and has D-ring eyelets to have a sure fit. When looking for something that is made with the best there is looking towards K-Swiss will never leave you disappointed.
Some characteristics of the VN is the smooth synthetic lining and a removable, padded sockliner for all-day comfort. There is a textured midsole that renders a comfortable cushion. It also has a quality padded tongue and collar. With excellent shock absorption and excellently placed padding you are sure to love the way they feel.
Cost & Value
The K-Swiss Classic VN is available for a reasonably low-price considering the exceptional support and comfort it provides. These shoes are the perfect addition to any nursing uniform and will have you looking clean and crisp while walking in total cushioned comfort. You will have to spend a bit more but they are affordable for most budgets.
- Classic Icon
- Quality leather
- Ankle support
- EVA Midsole
- Unsupportive arch
8. Skechers Sure Track
These shoes are made to feel as if they were made just for you. The insole will mold to your foot making the inside feel customized. The flexibility of the outsole and upper also increase the overall fit. While it does have a slide on design the collar ensures it will sit comfortably and stay in place.
The comfortability in this shoe includes a stretch top panel for a secure fit, soft cushioning insole that is also removable and one inch built in the heel for natural comfort.
Cost & Value
This option is quite affordable and most budgets will handle it easily. Skechers know what working feet need and they know we are pretty much all working on a budget. Rely on a brand that has been trusted for generations and know your feet and body will keep feeling great. Comfort features that offer excellent support and shock absorption are only two of the many reasons you will be satisfied with the overall value.
- Leather upper
- Shock absorbing FlexSole midsole
- Soft fabric collar trim and lining
- Memory foam
- Valued price
- Sizes may vary
9. Crocs Classic Clog
This clog was designed specifically for its support factors and will not be a letdown. With a spacious toe box, it is ideal for both wide and narrow feet. Your toes will be able to naturally splay which will help you continue to feel great as the hours wear on. The unique material was specially designed to form with your foot because the material softens with body heat. Hence the reason so many people will tell you their Crocs feel like they were made just for them.
The Classic features Crocs Croslite materials for signature Crocs comfort and are designed with a low ¾-inch heel and back strap for a more secure fit. The Classic is lightweight and long-lasting while its non-marking outsole is perfect for hospital and care-home working environments.
Cost & Value
You can purchase this professional clog online for a low price and it is one to seriously consider for its long-lasting and comfortable properties. Crocs keep it affordable for everyone and offer a shoe that is necessary in pretty much all walks of life.
- Arch support
- Easy to clean
- Soft insole
- Limited design choices
10. Merrell Encore Guest
The Encore Guest features Merrell’s innovative air cushion in the heel that absorbs shock and cushions every step. Its compression-molded EVA frame adds stability, while an Ortholite footbed makes for an enjoyable wear.
The Encore is made with a breathable mesh lining that wicks moisture away from the foot keeping it cool and dry while also preventing odors from occurring. In addition to helping you battle odor, they will also help you avoid painful, raw, red areas and blisters.
Cost & Value
Merrells’ Encore Guest is a reasonably priced pair of shoes that are a great choice for anyone working in the healthcare profession. They provide the kind of shock absorption and stability needed to withstand hours spent standing on your feet. They are also quite durable so you know they will last through daily wear and long hours.
- Durable construction
- Easy slip-on
- Soft footbed
- Limited colors
11. Alegria Keli Professional
The Keli Professional is all about creating a versatile experience for the wearer. Its breathable leather upper and non-slip polyurethane outsole ensure your feet will stay cool and dry while providing a strong grip on any surface. You will feel safe on your feet and that is exceptionally important in a nurse's life.
The Professional is a comfort first shoe that boasts a removable cork memory foam and latex insole, along with a structured outsole that encourages perfect posture and creates a natural rocker motion with every step. The removable insole will allow you to wear your favorite insole or custom orthotic. In addition, this adds to the overall value and will keep you in these shoes for a long time.
Cost & Value
While the Alegria Keli Professional costs more than many of the options on this list, it is well worth the extra splurge. The Professional brings a high-comfort level to the field as well as helping the wearer to achieve better posture and a natural rocker motion in every step. When the insole wears out you can replace it and get even more wear out of your favorite shoes.
- Width selection
- Arch support
- Easy to maintain
- Shock absorbing
- Sizes may vary
12. Merrell Jungle Moc Pro Grip
The Jungle Moc Pro offers a stable and well-supported ride thanks to a low one-inch heel height and molded nylon arch shank which help the wearer to feel secure and more sure of foot. The rubber outsole also keeps you securely on your feet. Long hours and slick floors will be no problem when you try this option by Merrell.
Breathable and waterproof full-grain leather combined with a slip-resistant rubber outsole make the Moc Pro a strong contender for anyone working in the healthcare profession. Its innovative air cushion technology in the heel, along with M-Select FRESH antimicrobials ensure a fresh and comforted wearing experience.
Cost & Value
The Moc Pro is an affordable and high-quality pair of shoes that are an ideal consideration for anyone working in the healthcare industry who will be standing for an extended period of time each day. Falling towards the middle of our price range most budgets will be able to afford them. They will last you a long time and keep you feeling better than ever before.
- Slim look
- Arch support
- Narrow design
13. Dansko Pro XP Mule
Featuring a rocker bottom to make every step glide with ease. A rocker bottom allows your natural gait to flow freely. You will notice the difference in your legs, back, and feet. This shoe moves with you and aids those who walk long distances and are on their feet for long periods of time.
A heightened heel allows for greater balance and natural stability. This clog features a padded collar for a comfortable ankle when in motion. In addition, the supportive insole will pad and cushion your feet. The synthetic outsole is flexible and comfortable during long wear.
Cost & Value
The Dansko Pro is in the mid-range of our price points. They are affordable to most budgets. Their unique style and great attention to detail will keep you comfortable and supported. The easy on-off design is sure to please many and the brand is absolutely trusted by those who have given them the chance.
- Heightened Heel
- Toe and Heel Support
- Reduces Perspiration
- Foot Flexibility
- Sizing May Vary
15. Alegria Paloma Flat
With a full leather upper and durable rubber outsole it will meet expectations of a long-lasting professional shoe. The rocker-bottom drives you forward allowing natural movement. In addition, they have a wide toe box that will allow your toes to move freely. This helps your feet feel better at the end of the day.
The Paloma Flat has cork footbed with the abilities to form to the foot for a comfortable fit and it can also be removed if you choose to do so. Cork is excellent at absorbing and reducing the shock that the wearer feels. The rocker bottom not only provides support but also increases the overall comfort of the shoe.
Cost and Value
This clog is quite unique and at a very affordable cost. If you want to style your scrubs with something quite eye catching the Paloma flat is an excellent choice. Make your mark with bold designs and keep yourself supported and comfortable.
- Arch and Mobility Support
- Fantastic Designs
- Color May Fade
What it means to be a nurse may be viewed differently, depending on your perspective of nursing, but it doesn’t matter if you work by taking care of someone in the comfort of their home, if you work long hours in a hospital facility, or if you’re an on-call travel nurse, you are the people’s real heroes, even when doing so takes a tremendous toll on your mind and body. And, every hero deserves to have the best of the best when it comes to quality care for your hard-working body. This list was constructed with careful thought of what it is that a nurse could truly benefit from. It has been analyzed with the most care and we understand the constant and possibly long-term pain that can be endured by wearing unsupported shoes. So sit down and relax, we’ve got you covered! Here’s some more information to consider.
Criteria for Evaluating the Bets Shoes for Nurses
Nurse Shoes: The Different Types
Of course, we wouldn’t overlook the many different styles of shoe nurses typically find to perform well on the job. Each is very different in their own respect and offer different features that make them unique and perform well, but it’s worth noting that personal preference will be a big part of choosing the specific type best for you. That’s why we’ve included all; to give everyone an option, whether you’re looking for men’s nursing shoes, nursing shoes for women, medical clogs, cushioned athletic shoes, slip on shoes, loafers, or mules, each holds a place in the preferences for professional medical personnel.
Ideal Nursing & Medical Shoes
- Athletic Shoes –
Because athletic shoes are made for constant activity, and typically have cushioning and shock absorption features, along with ample support, some specific models do really well for nurses. A big advantage of sneakers over slip-on types of footwear is their ability to be tightened for a better, “less loose” fit, which is perfect for those scrubs, nurses and medical personnel who find themselves rushing back and forth constantly, where an easy slip-on would become an easy slip off.
- Nursing Clogs –
Although can be considered a mule, or a slipper, clogs are specific in their own right. Their true definition is a wooden shoe with a heel and sole that is generally lower than similar footwear types, although modern or professional clogs aren’t made of wood. They provide adequate protection, great support, are extremely easy to wipe down or clean, and are super comfortable. Dansko is a favorite brand among clogs. They are starting to incorporate straps for a better fit and hold. Clogs are usually worn and made for women, but you can also find some great options for men.
- Nursing Mules –
On the other hand, you have mules, which are very similar to clogs, but have some significant differences. They are generally more classy in their looks, have a more pronounced heel, and less of a sole platform. You will typically see mules with straps, or buckles, but just like clogs, can be considered slippers and are also open the back. They are also comfortable and allow for easy cleaning. Just like clogs, mules are also made for and usually only worn by women nurses.
- Slip-Ons –
A slip-on can include a number of footwear types, and in the world of medical shoes, it usually refers to clogs or mules mentioned above, and the loafers below. Not every slip-on is ideal, and this style is good for certain occasions. If you have issues with fitting or a smaller foot, you may want to go with an athletic shoe to ensure your foot does not slip from the footwear unexpectedly.
- Loafers –
Loafers are less used by nurses but can be in some cases as they have a generally professional look, but the typical loafer is not durable or extremely fitting. Although, some are. Because loafer is a general term, and refers to a shoe that does not utilize laces, but rather has a slip-on design, there are some great medical shoes that fall into the category. It’s worth noting, another specification for loafers is a generally low or non-existent heel and are made for both men and women. Not every loafer is ideal.
Note: The reason clogs or similar slip-on footwear is used by nurses even if they don’t provide as great of a hold as athletic shoes are because of their spill proof, sealed upper. Athletic shoes are comprised of mesh uppers, which lets liquids through, and in addition to not being spill-proof, they are also not as easy to sanitize or wipe down. On the other hand, clogs, for instance, are spill proof and easy to wipe down, but because of their sealed design, their breathability is hindered. This is where the open back end or loose design comes in. This allows ample airflow, which nurses respond well to, and love. There are pros and cons to each type, so weigh your options. We’ve provided many.
All day comfort; you read it right! It’s been said, more than 30 percent of nurses in the United States suffer from either back or foot pain, due to their demanding, all day work, moving around on their feet. The fact is, inadequate shoes are a big part of this problem. This means the proper shoe will promote proper posture which enables correct spinal alignment, have adequate arch support (which we will cover individually) and provide a cushioned sole that offers shock absorption.
What most nurses don’t know is that the lack of comfort has a massive psychological impact on the execution of their tasks. To put it in simple words, you just can’t focus properly if your shoes don’t support your feet and keep them feeling great. It’s as easy as that. Shoes are not something you should be “dealing with” while on your shift – they’re supposed to enhance your performance.
It’s important to note that the comfort delivered by a shoe doesn’t only involve their usage during the shift, but after it as well. The main features that determine the comfortability of a shoe, such as its breathability, padding, soft materials, and absorption, will have an important effect on your feet after you’ve done wearing them. If a certain pair of shoes starts to create a condition that affects your ability to move normally or achieve your tasks, it will only get worse from there. It’s time to ditch them.
We recommend giving priority to this factor when searching for nursing shoes. You don’t want to replace any other important factor, you just want to make sure it features an acceptable level of comfort.
Features to expect in medical footwear that contribute to comfort
- Cork insole: Comfortable, lightweight and cushioning. It’s usually more firm than the usual material, but much more effective when it comes to providing prolonged support, without collapsing. It’s best for providing structure for those who need the extra support for combatting knee, arch hip and back pain due to the enhanced posture encouragement.
- Standard Cushioned Insole: More cushion and less stable than cork insoles (an alternative). The typical material would be memory foam or latex.
- Cork / Memory Foam insole combination: With the two material compositions strategically composed into the insole, you get a balance of both worlds.
- Leather Upper: Flexible enough to provide a conforming fit, contributing to the overall comfort.
- Arch Support: A properly supportive shoe will reduce stress on the arch of the foot, and also contribute to proper posture.
- Rocker / Curved Sole: This allows for an easy transition through step motions, which reduced overall stress on the foot, in the long run, benefitting nurses who work long shifts.
- Accommodation for orthotics: Most come with footbeds made of EVA or other soft, cushioned material, but when removable, allowing for a custom insert according to your specific preferences.
- Anatomically Shaped Design: This will ensure the best fit and support as possible.
Cushioning is a massively-contributing factor to many of the other features present in the best nursing shoes. For instance, it plays a key role in comfort. Don’t get it wrong, though, cushioning is a critical aspect of actual performance and task execution. Remove the cushioning and you’ll find your feet feeling every foot strike and the inner workings of the shoes you are wearing..
Cushioning plays a contributing role in shock absorption as well. Although it’s not the element responsible for absorbing the most shock, it helps soften each impact. Cushioning is something you normally find around the whole inner shoe; the wall padding, the tongue padding, the collar padding, and the insole, to name a few, all work as cushioning agents. The more material that stands between your feet and the floor at the moment of impact, the less shock that will get to your body. Keep in mind that, no matter how cushioned, there is no pair of shoes to this date that is able to completely nullify shock upon impact. There will always be a residual amount of energy that will go up your foot, even when walking.
Elements that contribute to the cushioning of a shoe:
- Lining: This is the element that covers the internal face of a shoe. It also places an additional layer of comfortable material between your foot and the sole. The quality of a lining is directly related to its softness and the comfort it delivers when in contact with feet, which at the same time is determined by the material it’s made of.
What most users don’t know, though, is that the lining also plays a role in the durability of a shoe. It acts as a supporting agent that holds the inner build together with the external build, contributing to the shape a shoe has and the amount of time it lasts in its natural position. Soft materials are preferable for the lining.
- Padding: Padding and cushioning can be understood as the same thing. However, we’ll refer to padding as the cushioning of a specific element rather than the cushioning of the shoe as a whole. For instance, the padding of the tongue, collar, and ankle, makes a considerable contribution to the level of cushioning present in a shoe.
The padding of each individual element also contributes to the support that the shoe offers. Aside from increasing comfort and cushioning, the tongue, ankle, and collar optimize the fit around each of their respective areas.
- Insole: The insole achieves a variety of purposes that we will explain thoroughly as an independent factor later in the guide. One of its many purposes is acting as a cushioning agent that relieves key areas of feet that are normally affected the most. A nursing shift can be really hard on the heels, for example.
Depending on how you feel with your shoes, you may opt for an insole that delivers greater heel cushioning, or rather more arch support. Ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA) is arguably the most popular and widely used insole material.
Obviously one can’t be slipping at work, or in general, and proper footwear has probably the greatest effect on occurrences. Not only is slipping a no-no but for nurses, it’s quite likely as they are more susceptible and have much less room for error than with other professional jobs that don’t deal with people’s health or in some cases life. Hospital floors are slippery, and the hospital environment typically contains liquids and spills that create a hazardous situation if not prepared. Nurses are constantly rushing to and from in a hurry as to not let a second be wasted, one cannot get hurt while trying to heal another. What’s more, patients cannot afford to be without their nurse. So, as you see, the combination here leads to nurses needing a shoe that provides traction and non-slip material on the outsole. It is not just important; it is critical. You need to consider the material, the pattern or profile, and the overall design of the outsole.
- Slip prevention:
While the quality of the grip has a direct influence on your chances of slipping, the grip and non-slipping features are normally two separate things. Features that prevent slippage are not always related directly to the grip, but rather they’re independent elements with the only purpose of resisting undesired movement. For example, aside from the main outsole design, some shoes offer an external pattern that surrounds the main design. This external pattern may have multiple functions to prevent slippage depending on its purpose and shape; it may restrict forceful and quick lateral movements, it may help prevent backward sliding, and so on. There are other features that, despite not being a physical element of the shoe, still contribute to slippage resistance. In professional nursing shoes, the outsole material is usually coated with a compound that prevents most substances from adhering to it. The purpose of this is pretty straightforward; aside from not slipping when you step on liquid, it prevents the liquid from staying on your outsole and creating a potential hazard at any point of your shift. In some cases, this feature is an indispensable requirement to work in a hospital, as it also prevents the spreading of substances and slippery liquids across the surface of the whole hospital.
- Features and Materials that contribute to a slip resistant shoe:
- Tread Pattern:
An outsole profile with enough surface room to generate friction, which then leads to a better grab to the floor. Certain patterns are more effective than others. This also leads to the second point about tread pattern. You don’t want the shot completely flat, as this will cause any liquids to form a barrier between the outsole of the shoe and the floor, which will prevent your shoe from catching any traction at all. You will basically hydroplane, as seen with cars and wet floors. Additionally, you want a pattern that is cut in a way that there are no closures in it which trap water underneath your foot, which will also lead to a slip. The water needs outlets to escape and be pushed out, so a proper slip resistant shoe will have an outsole profile as such.
- Tapered Toe:
This prevents tripping when transitioning from different flooring material, such as from a tiled hard floor to a carpeted room.
- Softer Material/Rubber:
Harder material just doesn’t grab very well. You may have a hard midsole for support, but a soft outsole for better traction. The softer the rubber material is on the outsole, the better it will be able to grip the floor.
- Aluminum Oxide Grit Treatment:
This is a coating that can be found on outsoles specifically made for providing additional slip resistance.
- Tread Pattern:
Note to nurses and other medical personnel: If you see a wet floor or hazardous walking area, avoid it! There is no shoe that is perfectly slip-proof. Your shoes do not compensate for a lack of attention on the job. Always be careful and aware.
Stability & Support
In a job that comprises standing and walking for the most part of the shift, features like stability and support become very important. Before going any further, it’s important to note that the stability of a shoe goes hand-in-hand with the support it offers.
The support is basically what adapts your foot to the shape of the shoe. The purpose of this feature is to keep feet and shoes together as if they were just one element. As support increases, you’ll be able to have greater control and accuracy over your motions and coordinate your feet with the shoes. Think of support as the “force” that the shoe uses to compress against the foot to hold it to the shoe. As you can probably guess, support is something you don’t want to overdo either. As a nurse, you should be looking for a supportive shoe that allows you to move your feet in synchronization with the shoes. Some people think this is a default feature of all shoes, but in reality, the support varies according to the quality of the shoe. The best nursing shoes, for example, count with a decent degree of support. You can tell a shoe is supportive when you feel it somewhat pressed against your foot, and it follows your foot around perfectly. A non-supportive shoe, on the other hand, will make certain motions on its own that are not executed by your foot. The lack of support breaks the “synchronization” between a foot and a shoe.
- Pronation –
Most footwear users are unfamiliar with one of the main purposes of shoe support, which is preventing unnatural stances and movements. The support holds the shoe and the foot together to enhance each motion as if they were one, but more importantly, it holds the foot in place to prevent it from overpronating or supinating (under-pronating). For those of you unfamiliar with the term, pronation is the inward motion executed by the foot as it rolls. This movement is an instinctive reflex that helps distribute the impact force of each gait, whether running or walking, in a much more optimal manner. Contrary to what most footwear users think, the foot is not meant to stay in a vertical position at all timesNormally, the human foot pronates between 12 to 17 percent before reaching the surface it will impact. This way, it can support your body weight in a natural manner that reduces stress on the joints. This process is crucial for proper shock absorption and the distribution of impact energy. However, there’s a lot of variation in the degree to which the foot of each individual pronates when running and walking. Although the pronation process is completely natural, certain factors like the height and length of the foot’s arch can affect its ability to roll. This is where under-pronation and overpronation happen.
- Arch support –
The arch support is often the most ignored feature in a shoe. Most footwear users aren’t able to determine the degree of arch support they need for the specific shape of their feet. This often leads to acquiring shoes with the wrong level of support or no support on the arch at all. This is in part because the lack of arch support is something that is not clearly noticeable until it starts hurting your foot. Generally, people that suffer from flat feet tend to overpronate, which means they twist their foot inwards more than they should. This not only causes an unnatural stance and weight distribution when walking or running, but it also adds further tension to the ankle and other rotating joints. Overpronators should be looking for more support than usual to control their pronation. On the other hand, people with particularly high arches tend to supinate (under-pronate). In this case, users should opt for a shoe that is cushioned neutrally in order to encourage natural feet movement. In both cases, it’s highly recommended that you seek for a customized insole. Arch support is generally generic in all shoes; it’s impossible to design a shoe that fits all arches equally. You can, however, use a personalized insert that will make the shoe fit your very own anatomy.
- Other elements that contribute to the support of a shoe:
- Heel support –
This feature is what keeps your heel tightly held against the back of the shoe, ensuring there’s no vertical sliding within the shoe (given that the sizing is optimal). Although often underestimated, the heel support plays a pretty important role in support. The heel acts as a pivoting agent at any point in which the foot starts pronating or twisting. It’s the very base of each pronating motion, and thus it should remain stable and support for the foot to pronate naturally and comfortably.
- Tongue and closure-
There’s a lot of people who don’t know that the tongue actually plays a role in the supportive process of a shoe. Aside from acting as cushioning, the tongue is also meant to support the upper foot. Furthermore, the closure system will reinforce the support on the upper foot. Regardless of the closure style, it’s important that the tension of the laces, straps, or whatever you’re using is distributed evenly. The best form of support is achieved when the closure places an even amount of pressure on all parts of the tongue at the same time.
- Heel support –
- Rocker Design / Curved Sole –
A rounded sole or rocker design will make every stepping motion from heel to toe much more pleasant and is also a small factor in keeping yourself from tripping. The heel to toe transition through each step is the main reason for this feature in a good shoe for nurses, and some have it more pronounced than others, although not all have the design. It’s highly unlikely to find this feature in an athletic shoe, but you will see it in some great clogs. The reason is most clogs and similar shoes have very thick, dense soles that aren’t as flexible as one that you would find in an athletic shoe. This sole gives them more stability as mentioned before, but requires the rocker design to allow ease of movement through transitions of each step. Athletic shoes don’t really need this, as they generally have flexible, EVA or similar soles and in-turn do not offer the same support. Some shoes for nurses offer this design feature more pronounced than others.
- Easy to Clean & Sanitize –
As noted previously, one benefit of clogs and other shoes for nurses that provide a smooth finish on their upper by utilizing coatings or leather curing methods that repel moisture rather retaining it or letting it seep through is substantial. This also allows an easy to wipe down and clean surface. Leather types that offer this and are recommended are full-grain, oiled, or box leather. You will more commonly see the “full-grain” tag used in footwear specifications, so if none else, go with it as it is naturally durable, and repels liquids effectively. Synthetic uppers as you would find on athletic shoes just don’t perform well in this regard. They are usually comprised of large mesh areas and are extremely breathable, which is not a bad thing, but in terms of protection from liquids, it’s not effective. If a highly commended brand or shoe company offers a shoe that is waterproof, and any leather material that’s ideal for this purpose as mentioned above is not offered, they are probably treated with the companies own water repellant finish. It’s always safest to go with reputable brands, and that’s all we recommend.
- Compression Socks with Proper Shoes –
Although compression socks are not shoes, we want to help in any way possible, and using them is just too significant to not mention. We highly recommend them as a properly fitting, properly designed, quality compression sock will help blood circulation in the feet and legs which will help tons on the job. There’s an endless amount of reputable information and studies regarding compression socks that shows they do work and are effective in reducing fatigue, blood build-up, swelling and stress on the feet which occurs when they’re put under constant pressure as done naturally in a nurse’s workday.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What shoes do nurses wear?
A: We’ve answered this throughout the article, but it’s still asked enough so we want to provide a summarized answer. Nurses wear either clogs or athletic shoes, mainly. Clogs because they provide ample support and an upper that is typically liquid resistant for protecting against hazardous liquids. Athletic shoes because they are extremely comfortable, especially those from Skechers which will usually incorporate memory foam in their footbeds.
Q: What are the best nursing shoes for flat feet?
A: The best nursing shoes for flat feet are the ones that offer a lower arch, more cushioning, and are stable. This is something that can be achieved to a degree by orthotics or inserts, but clogs are generally very stable, although don’t usually have the extreme cushioning an athletic shoe may have. This is where custom inserts can be used, for the purpose of compensating for clogs typical, dense midsole.
Q: What are the best white nursing shoes?
A: Dansko is a highly reputable brand that makes clogs which are ideal for nursing, and quite a few come in all white. If you prefer an athletic shoe, Skechers makes some extremely commended shoes for nurses that also come in all white. We highly recommend either brand.
Q: What are the best nursing shoes for plantar fasciitis?
A: You’re going to want to look for a highly cushioned shoe, as plantar fasciitis is known to be an overuse injury. This means, an athletic shoe may be your best bet, in which Skechers makes some great shoes for nurses in this category that are highly rated.
Q: Black or White; Which color is best?
A: There is no absolute answer so we’ll give you some food for thought. First, consider what color is required for where you work, or if you are attending nursing school, which color is required there. Professional establishments and school environments a such usually require uniforms, in which one or the other color will be required. If that’s the case, that’s an easy answer for you. Most hospitals will not have a color requirement. Although, you should also be aware of the fact that black shoes will not show dirt or stains as easily, which is one reason they are preferred in a nursing environment where such cases where stains are unavoidable. Solid black and solid white both come off as very professional. In the case of white shoes, some have reported that as a preference as they can see any mess more easily in order to clean them.
- Air Cushion: An inflated air pocket inserted into a specific area of a shoe to create a unique form of cushioning.
- Antimicrobial: An antimicrobial agent inhibits or kills the growth of an organism, particularly bacteria.
- Bungee-style Laces: Bungee-style laces are an elastic lace which is held at the desired level of tightness by a mechanism.
- D-rings: A D-ring is a metal ring shaped like a ‘D’ which is used as a lashing point when tying things down.
- EVA: Ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) is a man-made and extremely elastic material which forms a material similar to rubber and is often used in the construction of footwear.
- Faux: Refers to something that is fake or an imitation of the real thing.
- Insole: A fixed or removable insert worn inside of a shoe to provide a better fit, added warmth, or to deodorize.
- Memory Foam: Memory foam is a material that is sensitive to temperatures and to pressure. It molds to the shape of the wearer’s foot and retains an impression so it provides a customized fit every time.
- Midsole: The midsole is a layer of material which is placed between the inner and outer soles of a shoe.
- Non-marking: Refers to a type of outsole which will not scuff or leave marks on certain types of flooring.
- Range Of Motion: The full movement potential of a joint, including its level of flexion and extension.
- Reinforced Toe: A reinforced toe is an additional level of protection at the toe area of a shoe. Often called safety toes, and widely referenced as being ‘steel-toed’.
- Responsive Cushioning: Responsive cushioning is quick to bounce back to its original form and intuitively provides the level of soft, or hardness, required at any given time.
- Slip-on: A style of shoe in which the wearer can simply slide their foot inside of and does not require any additional closures such as laces.
- Sock Liner: A thin covering which is placed over the insole of a shoe for added comfort, moisture control, and deodorizing benefits.
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