Best Shoes for Work Reviewed for Quality & Durability

The best shoes for work must meet the extremely varied environments we face at work. In other words, some of us may work in an office, whereas, others may work in a restaurant, in a hospital, on a construction site, and etc. This is where only the best and most particular shoes for work applies in each of our daily lives. Depending on the activities you may perform at work, you must wear an outfit and follow a specific dress code, in general, which suits both you and the job most efficiently.

Last Updated: June 4, 2018
By Tony Skye:

The Recent update reflects the best of 2018’s best work shoes of all types, shapes, sizes, colors, with new information as to how to choose the best work shoes and our criteria for evaluation. Also, included are some of the most frequently asked questions about the best work shoes.

A very common mistake is to think that shoes must match the job, in terms of appearance; rather than, in terms of performance. And although it’s important to meet the work etiquette, it’s much more important to meet your acceptable comfortability and functionality standards. That is, don’t go out looking for something that will match your outfit the best, but rather, look for a pair of shoes that match both your feet and individual health needs.

Featured Recommendations

Crocs Classic Clog
  • Crocs Classic Clog
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Buoyant
  • Water-friendly
  • Price: See Here
Dansko Professional Clog
  • Dansko Professional Clog
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • 0.75-inch Platform
  • APMA Seal of Acceptance
  • Price: See Here
Champion Gusto
  • Champion Gusto
  • 4.6 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Memory Foam Insole
  • Breathable Fabric Upper
  • Price: See Here

People tend to underestimate the importance of comfort at work when it comes to shoes, ultimately, paying a considerably high price in terms of discomfort. Additionally, people with active jobs that involve consistently standing and walking, will find comfortable shoes to be paramount. If you have multiple long and active shifts ahead, uncomfortable shoes are simply not an option; neither, are they good for your overall foot health.

Although some people seem to ignore the magnitude of comfortability and fit, something as simple as a pair of shoes can, absolutely, change your perspective, attitude, and performance at work. It’s this simple; you’re more efficient when you’re not focusing on how annoying your shoes are and how bad you want to take them off at the middle of the shift, so to speak.

 

15 Best Shoes for Work

 

1. Crocs Classic Clog

Crocs are one of the top manufacturers when it comes to long-lasting comfort. This classic clog model is, arguably, one of the best shoes for aquatic work environments. Made with buoyancy, these clogs are lightweight and made to float, just in case you lose them when working around areas such as pools, water parks, and etc. They have decent anti-slip traction and are built to last.
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Roomy
Crocs are known for having a fair amount of space within their design. This allows you to move freely with little-to-no restrictions. Additionally, the optional back strap gives you control of the fit; just remember for half sizes, you should size down.

Comfortable
Classic crocs have some of the most comfortable footwear options out there. They are breathable, have perforations and buoyancy to help give you a water-friendly approach, and are made with all-day comfort materials.

Cost and Value
Crocs have considerably reduced their cost since their original release, being now much more affordable than it was before. With that being stated, they have a wide range of cost association from low-to-high range. Size-dependent, these clogs are worth the investment; especially, for those working around aquatic environments.
Pros
  • 0.75-inch Platform Height
  • Massaging Footbed
  • Internal Grip
  • Heel Strap
  • Wide Color Variety
Cons
  • Size runs big
  • Bit pricey

2. Dansko Professional Clog

For all of you nurses and restaurant workers out there, these clogs from Danskos are perfect for the hustle and bustle of long hours on the floor. Having the APMA Seal of Acceptance, these shoes are certain to bring you comfort to those once aching feet. They are work-ready with a 0.75-inch platform, leather upper for breathability, perforated inner for comfort, and polyurethane outsole for both comfort and traction.
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Leather Upper
The leather upper is a natural material; thus, allowing your feet to breathe and remain cool when stress levels may rise. It has a professional appeal to it, in addition to overall foot health improvement.

Perforated Insole
The perforated insole is made, ideally, to bring you all-day comfort throughout those long hours. Created for comfort, your feet will thank you for the purchase.

Cost and Value
When compared to other work shoes on this list, these clogs are midrange in cost association. Made with a leather upper, PU outsole, and having the APMA Seal of Acceptance for better overall foot health, this pair of best shoes for work is the perfect purchase to add to your work gear collection.
Pros
  • Leather Upper
  • 0.75-inch Platform
  • PU Outsole
  • Perforated Comfort Insole
  • APMA Seal of Acceptance
Cons
  • Minimal Color Variety

3. Skechers Soft Stride

If you stand on your feet all day long, then this pair of Skechers might be the solution. With slip-resistance at the helm, these shoes are ideal for food service workers, or anyone who might find unexpected 'slick spots' on the floor, per se. They have little to no arch support; so, they are perfect for those who might want to strengthen their arches over time. Additionally, the cushioned insole provides the correct amount of cushioning for those long hours.
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Leather Upper
The leather upper has perforated accents to help your feet breathe while on the move. In addition, a full lace-up panel is in place to help provide a better fit; thereby, promoting overall foot health.

Removable, PU Insole
The polyurethane insole is removable. This allows you to replace it with an orthotic if necessary, as the depth increases in the shoe. If not, the insole serves to bring you the comfort you desire for all-day standing.

Cost and Value
These shoes are budget-friendly. Moreover, they are ready to handle the long hours spent while standing and/or walking about. Having a leather upper, slip-resistant outsole, and 1.5-inch heel height, this pair of shoes is a great choice for those looking to add to their work wear collection.
Pros
  • Removable, PU Insole
  • Leather Upper
  • Slip-resistant
  • 1.5-inch Heel Height
  • Padded Tongue and Collar
Cons
  • Minimal Color Variety

4. KEEN Utility Atlanta Cool

4. KEEN Utility Atlanta Cool
Are you searching for a shoe which acts like a work boot but still feels like a shoe? You might have found that pair right here, as these best shoes for work average around 1.5 pounds per shoe. This makes them lightweight when considering the asymmetrical steel toes these work shoes have. In addition, these shoes have a leather upper, metatomical EVA footbed (which is removable), 1.25-inch heel height, hydrophobic mesh lining, and is oil/slip resistant.
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Dual-density EVA Footbed
When comfort matters, a dual-density EVA footbed is a nice attribute to have. Furthermore, it is removable; thus, allowing you to replace with it an orthotic if necessary.

Asymmetrical Steel Toes
These steel toes are shaped to your left and right foot, accordingly. They can help protect against falling debris; thereby, protecting those toes when it's needed.

Cost and Value
Reasonably priced, these work shoes fall into the midrange of cost association. Made for protection, they are worth every penny. Furthermore, they are made to be lightweight, breathable, and give you an ample supply of comfort. As such, these work shoes are a great buy.
Pros
  • Oil/Slip-resistant, Rubber Outsole
  • 1.25-inch Heel Height
  • Asymmetrical Steel Toes
  • Removable, Dual-density EVA Footbed
  • Hydrophobic Mesh Lining
Cons
  • Minimal Color Variety
  • Size runs small

5. Rockport Northfield

5. Rockport Northfield
Rockport is a specialist when it comes to office shoes, delivering both an appealing design and functional structure. The Northfield Oxford merges both style and comfort, bringing a breathable approach; as well as, multi-directional flexing. Furthermore, Rockport has a huge variety of sizes and dimensions, guaranteeing an optimal fit for the anatomy of your feet.
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Hydro-shield Protection
Waterproof protection helps to keeps away water via seam sealing, in combination with waterproofing materials, and a waterproofed insole. No matter what your job is, or the number of hours you work, water won’t be an obstacle.

Kinetic Air Circulation Technology
Breathability is a critical factor of any shoe, especially if you expect to use them for a long and active shift. The Northfield Oxford has technology which allows air to circulate in a specific pattern, preventing overheating and irritation throughout the day.

Cost and Value
The Northfield Oxford is midrange in cost association. It is durable and designed to equip you with the right features to relieve your feet at work. As such, this office-style shoe is a worthy investment.
Pros
  • Kinetic Air Circulation Technology
  • Rubber Outsole; Water-resistant
  • 1.5-inch Heel Height
  • 0.75-inch Platform Height
  • Leather Upper
Cons
  • Minimal color variety

6. Crocs Santa Cruz 2

6. Crocs Santa Cruz 2
The Santa Cruz 2 Luxe Loafer is perfect for those working in casual, lightweight work environments (i.e. dental assistant, etc.). The Santa Cruz 2 comes with the expected comfort of the classic Crocs and an appealing design for both the office and casual wear. Furthermore, they are lightweight, breathable, and can help reduce overall fatigue levels.
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Footbed
Within the shoe lies a comfortable footbed. Combined with memory foam paddings on top of the Croslite foam base, these loafers are exactly what your feet need when taking long, active shifts at work.

Comfort
Croslite memory foam paddings provide your feet with a sink-in experience, extending comfort throughout the whole day. These loafers flexible, as well; allowing you to move around freely while in comfort.

Cost and Value
These loafers are budget-friendly in cost association; yet, they maintain the epitome of comfort offered by the brand, Crocs. If you work in a casual, lightweight environment, this pair of best shoes for work is a great choice.
Pros
  • Odor-resistant
  • Synthetic, Non-marking Outsole
  • Canvas Upper
  • Flexible
Cons
  • Size fits tight

7. Skechers Flex Mcallen

7. Skechers Flex Mcallen
The Flex Advantage Mcallen is the Skechers solution for office and formal wear. Having similar technologies as their sports release, the Mcallen has a considerable amount of features that make standing while working much lighter on your feet.
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Breathable Upper
The upper consists of a mesh build with a slip-on closure, maximizing the airflow within the shoe. This mesh panel extends all the way to the lateral bands, allowing air to enter from multiple directions.

Personalization
The memory foam cushioning on the insoles helps to make standing and walking more comfortable. These cushions are molded by the pressure of your feet, resulting in a personalized insole. The elastic side gores make walking seem effortless and, also, prevents loafer surface caking.

Cost and Value
This pair of Skechers is budget-friendly, and that’s a fair price considering the unique engineering on the Mcallen. You shouldn’t need a second pair of these anytime soon. Unless, of course, you would like to have a second pair for rotation.
Pros
  • Gore Flex Technology
  • Mesh, Fabric Upper
  • Slip-resistant (ASTM F11677-2005 Mark II)
  • Memory Foam Insole
  • Padded Collar
Cons
  • Break-in Period

8. Keen Kaci Full-Grain

8. Keen Kaci Full-Grain
Style and efficiency come together to form this full-grain shoe. Its formal design is ideal for a professional work appearance, without sacrificing comfortability elements. The shoe features a slip-on design, with an incorporated strap to adjust the fit. The synthetic and flexible materials make walking comfortable; as well as, standing.
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Long-lasting Comfort
This full-grain pair endures long shifts that involve a lot of movement. Its EVA foam footbed and insole are not only comfortable but, also, protects against bacteria.

Lightweight
The Keen Kaci is a lightweight shoe, engineered so well you might just forget you’re even wearing them. This model is breathable, too; making their wear much more comfortable. The inner cushioning, along with the leather paddings, are fairly soft.

Cost and Value
The Keen Kaci is midrange in cost association and they are worth every penny. These best shoes for work are stylish, have odor control, an EVA midsole, a PU footbed, non-marking outsole, water-resistant upper, and are equipped with a breathable, mesh lining.
Pros
  • Cleansport NXT Odor Protection
  • Water-resistant; Leather Upper
  • PU Midsole
  • Removable, Metatomical PU Footbed
  • Non-marking, Rubber Outsole
Cons
  • Minimal color variety
  • Break-in Period

9. Skechers Flex Advantage

9. Skechers Flex Advantage
The Flex Advantage, as suggested by its name, delivers the flexibility and other qualities of a performance shoe. Its low-profile design and lightweight makeup of materials allow it to be an ideal choice for fitness and tennis instructors, and/or anyone who needs a trainer shoe for work.
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Performance & Comfort
This has the cushioning and comfort expected from a sports shoe, including a soft footbed and memory foam that delivers customized comfortability, arch support, flexibility, and breathability via the mesh upper.

Efficient
Skechers Flex Advantage sports design is efficient in both weight and durability. Built to be lightweight, this shoe helps to lower fatigue levels during your workout and training sessions. The synthetic overlays help to ensure stability while, simultaneously, giving you ‘play’ enough for decent flexibility.

Cost and Value
The cost of this shoe is budget-friendly. The Sports Flex Advantage is by no means a painful investment, but rather, a smart one. With all of the features associated with them, it is a good investment for anyone in need of a budget-friendly and decent pair of trainer shoes.
Pros
  • Padded Tongue and Collar
  • Lace-up Closure
  • Breathable, Mesh Upper
  • Memory Foam Insole
Cons
  • Minimal color variety

10. Skechers Synergy Ekron

10. Skechers Synergy Ekron
These best shoes for work are rated for electrical hazard. In addition, they are equipped with an aluminum alloy safety toe, have a slip-resistant outsole, one-inch heel height, and a leather upper. Slip-resistance is meant to meet (or exceed) the expectations of 0.5 coefficiencies on wet/oily surfaces. In other words, these shoes are, most definitely, slip-resistant and ready for the workday.
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Aluminum Alloy Safety Toe
This is a lightweight metal composite; thereby, a men's size nine weighs in at 14 ounces per shoe. Strong enough to handle lightweight debris, these shoes are great for areas not requiring heavy-duty boots.

EH Rated
These shoes pass electrical hazard testing (ASTM F2412/2413-2011) and are ready for that moment when the unexpected may arise. Made with a leather upper and having a one-inch heel height, these shoes are designed to withstand electrical mishaps.

Cost and Value
Considering all of the technology behind these shoes, this pair of work shoes is both budget-friendly and perfect for those in need of EH-rated footwear. Built for protection, these shoes, also, offer an ample amount of comfort.
Pros
  • EH Rated
  • Slip-resistant Outsole
  • Aluminum Alloy Safety Toe
  • 1-inch Heel Height
  • Trubuck Leather Upper
Cons
  • Size runs small

11. Champion Gusto

11. Champion Gusto
Certain performance shoes count with features that are excellent for people who work long and active shifts. The flexibility, breathability, and comfort of these materials make moving around seem effortless. The design is not flashy but casual, blending in discretely and being suitable for many jobs. The Gusto Cross Trainer is a great choice for fitness trainers, or anyone else in need of a lightweight, breathable, and non-marking work shoe.
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Performance Quality
Because of its performance qualities, people who walk and stand a lot will find these features to be amazing: smooth flexibility, the lightweight materials, multi-directional airflow, and the comfortable inner.

Minimalist Design
Some performance shoes are known for being lightweight and the Gusto Cross Trainer is no exception. These flexible and breathable materials are near to weightless, not only makeing them very comfortable but, also, much easier to move around in.

Cost and Value
The value of the Gusto Cross Trainer is fairly accessible, budget-friendly, and it’s a great value for such a good shoe. The shoe delivers the qualities you need at work, especially for those in-the-gym trainers, so to speak.
Pros
  • Budget-friendly
  • Breathable, Mesh-fabric Upper
  • Non-marking Outsole
  • Memory Foam Insole
  • Wide Color Variety
Cons
  • Size runs small

12. Nurse Mates DOVE

12. Nurse Mates DOVE
Chances are you get a good concept of the shoes by looking at the name. The Nurse Mates DOVE offers the qualities that must be present in every nurse’s shoe. This slip-on shoe is extremely durable; as well as, lightweight. Including EVA elements, anti-slipping technology, and a flexible frame, this shoe is great.
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Tumbled Floater Leather Upper
The upper build consists of a leather upper, which is not only durable but, also, flexible. The design helps to provide stain protection and an easier clean when the time is needed. Additionally, the upper has a cushioned collar and double side goring.

Lightweight
The DOVE is one of Nurse Mates’ best sellers for many reasons and being lightweight is only one of them. This shoe applies stain-resistance and functionality; yet, utilizes lightweight compounds in the process. The steel shank, for instance, improves your stance and relieves stress without adding a lot of weight to the shoe.

Cost and Value
The Mates DOVE is a great shoe for nurses and those working in the food industry. Its design targets flexibility, breathability, and is lightweight; providing both anti-slip traction and stain-resistant protection. Priced in the midrange of cost association, this pair of best shoes for work is a wonderful buy.
Pros
  • Stain-resistant Finish
  • Slip-on
  • Removable, Contoured Footbed
  • 1 4/8-inch Heel Height
  • EVA Outsole; Rubber Inserts
Cons
  • Size runs small

13. Rockport Eberdon

13. Rockport Eberdon
The Eberdon Loafer follows the classic office design, having an elegant and full-grain leather upper, mesh inner lining, elastic goring bands, and utilizes a slip-on approach. Rockport’s office design has the fundamental features for comfortable standing and flexible movement. In addition, these shoes have a 0.5-inch platform height, EVA rubber outsole, dual goring insets, padded collar, and provide an ample amount of traction.
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EVA Footbed
The EVA footbed is shock-absorbent; thereby, reducing load-rate. This, in turn, helps to improve overall foot health, in the realm of ankles, knees, and hips.

Casual Efficiency
Rockport incorporates a casual and innovative structure to this shoe. The materials flex naturally without caking, and the elastic goring helps your feet flex in a natural way while, also, aiding in the provision of a better fit.

Cost and Value
Both the application of innovative technologies and a smart design make these shoes worth their tag; especially, considering they are midrange in cost association. As such, this pair of work shoes is an ideal addition to any office footwear.
Pros
  • Full-grain Leather Upper
  • Form-fitting
  • Dual Goring Insets
  • Mesh Lining
  • EVA Rubber Outsole
Cons
  • Size runs narrow
  • Break-in period

14. Crocs Specialist Vent

14. Crocs Specialist Vent
Yet another design by Crocs; the Specialist Vent is another ideal design for people who stand a lot or move around actively at work. This style features the standard massaging footbed and the back strap, featuring the closed toe and heel design with lateral breathing perforations. A roomy inner allows you to move freely and comfortably, also, making the shoe much more breathable.
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Croslite™ Technology
Crocs’ patented Croslite™ technology is a material which conforms to your feet, creating a customized frame with the shape of your feet. This material is not only comfortable but it, also, provides a much better grip and stance within the shoe.

Breathability
This pair of shoes is roomy; thus, allowing you to obtain improved breathability. In addition, they are made with side ventilation ports which are inset. This helps to both promote air circulation and reduce the chance of getting wet when a liquid may be spilled.

Cost and Value
Crocs, in general, delivers a great cost-to-efficiency ratio when compared to other work shoes. Not only do their products offer high quality, but their price is hard to beat, as well. Budget-friendly in cost association, this pair of best shoes for work is a perfect choice for those desiring casual footwear.
Pros
  • Highly Breathable
  • 2-inch Shaft Height
  • Ventilation Ports; Inset
  • Croslite™ Technology
  • Odor-resistant
Cons
  • Slippery on grease/oil surfaces
  • Minimal color variety

15. Reebok Work 'N Cushion 2.0

15. Reebok Work 'N Cushion 2.0
Performance shoe manufacturers have taken a shot at shoes for work and Reebok is no different in this endeavor. Their Work ’N Cushion 2.0 release is designed for standing and all-day walking comfort; helping you perform tasks with the natural motions of your feet in an effortless manner. Cushioning, flexibility, and premium materials come together to form these Reeboks.
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Forefoot Flex Grooves
The forefoot flex grooves help to provide you with the mobility you need at work, allowing you to remain light on your feet, per se. This, in essence, promotes natural movement of your forefoot.

Width & Comfort
The Work ‘N Cushion 2.0 is a solution to almost any foot width, offering a huge variety of sizes and dimensions. A beveled heel construction works along with an EVA midsole and the leather upper to obtain responsiveness, cushioning, and durability in a shoe that’s comfortable for wide feet.

Cost and Value
Midrange in cost association, the Work ’N Cushion 2.0 is a great shoe to have. It delivers professional quality and has the features desired when on the job.
Pros
  • 25-inch Heel Height
  • Leather Upper
  • Kwik-close Strap
  • EVA Midsole
  • Oil/Slip-resistant Outsole
Cons
  • Size runs big
  • Size runs wide

The best shoes for work are those which fit your style, meet the job’s expectations, keep you comfortable, promote foot health, and perform equally well in the aforementioned attributes. There’s no pair of working shoes that works the same for any two persons; and even if there were, that doesn’t mean they’ll fit you correctly in the same fashion as they do someone else. Because of this, it’s important to keep in mind the kind of job you’ll perform but it’s, also, equally important to remember your own style and foot shape, as you will be wearing these all day on your job.

For example, regardless of the quality of the shoe, if it lacks sufficient space inside of the shoe and you have wide feet, not only will you feel uncomfortable but you may, also, cause long-term damage to your foot health. So, you want to look for the most optimal choice of shoes in relation to your work environment; as well as, in relation to the needs of your feet, as an individual. Try and stay clear of ‘shoes for the masses,’ as it were.

 

Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Shoes for Work

Comfort

When standing or walking for a prolonged amount of time, it is important to be equipped with comfortable shoes. People who work long shifts, especially those shifts that involve constant movement or standing, will quickly find out the differences between a comfortable pair of shoes and a pair of uncomfortable ones. When it comes to work, comfort is much more than just a feature of your shoe. It can have a direct impact on your work, too. In other words, when you feel good, the day seems to be a bit brighter (i.e. birds chirping, best clients ever, spilled coffee on the shirt is not so bad, and etc.).

On the other side of the same coin, wearing the wrong pair of shoes can, considerably, reduce your efficiency at work and it’s not just about walking or performing physical tasks. There’s another important factor that takes part in us all when feeling uncomfortable: the psychological factor. It’s this simple; if your shoes are constantly bothering you, you’ll have a hard time concentrating and/or doing your best. Furthermore, even if you’re able to work in uncomfortable shoes, it’ll seem the day must now require greater effort in nearly everything you try to do.

If you’ve ever owned a pair of uncomfortable shoes, and chances are you have, then you’ll know how annoying they are. Despite the shoes being physically impossible to wear, you’ll be reminded with each new step just how uncomfortable they really are. A shoe that doesn’t fit well, or that features the wrong materials, becomes hard to ignore. It’s an overwhelming notion to consider a constant thought process about uncomfortable shoes, but unfortunately, most of us have had these kinds of days.

So, what makes a shoe comfortable?

To begin with, the selection of materials is paramount. This is sometimes one of the main flaws of a poorly constructed pair of shoes. They, usually, employ generic materials that offer little-to-no benefits. This causes a chain reaction, per se,  for poor comfort, poor overall foot health, and poor performance. Quality shoes, on the other hand, are designed to provide all-day comfort, promote better overall foot health, and increase general performance. Keep in mind, however, that aspects such as arch support and shoe width, of any type of shoe, will depend on the anatomy of your feet.

 

Cushioning and Support

The lack of cushioning is one of the biggest factors that can, considerably, decrease the comfortability of a shoe. The longer you wear them, the more your heels, ankles, and hips will be exposed to direct load-rate; that is if the shoes have inadequate cushioning and/or minimal shock absorption.

On the other hand, a shoe that features rich cushioning and absorbing materials make a huge difference in comfort. EVA midsoles, for example, have proven to deliver an extremely efficient support and cushioning system; and ultimately, increases the shoe wearer’s comfort, as a result.

Cushioning and support, aside from being a very influencing factor in comfortability are, also, key points to your performance at work. Something as simple as enhanced support can make a huge difference in the way you walk, the amount of time you can stand, and the after-effects of these two combined.

By acting like your own personal, supportive team, adequate working shoes will noticeably enhance and correct your posture. Shoes do more than just support your feet; they can have a direct impact on your ankles, knees, hips, and even your lower spine. Poor-quality shoes, for example, fail to act as a solid support system. Because of this, a standing posture can place a lot of stress on the aforementioned areas.

Having adequate support allows you to have a much more natural posture. This not only stops your working efficiency from decreasing but it, also, has important health benefits in the long term.

Cushioning is, arguably, one of the most important factors of working shoes. Regardless of the type of work you’re doing, it’s paramount to place some protection between your feet and the surface. Cushioning plays a massive role in shock absorption. Shock absorption is not only an attribute needed for sports performance; it’s a feature required in certain working conditions, such as a lot of walking.

It’s a big mistake to assume that there’s no impact or shock during walking. If you’ve ever used a pair of flat shoes for a long and active shift, you know what we’re talking about. Cushioning can be the difference between a comfortable working experience and an uncomfortable one.

Well-cushioned shoes offer great protection for your feet. As natural as walking may seem, it still fatigues your feet, especially zones of high stress such as the arch and the heel. Furthermore, this protection extends even up to the knee and hips, as impact doesn’t stop at your heels. If you’ve ever felt the urgent need of taking your shoes off at work, then you know what a lack of cushioning feels like.

Support and cushioning can do more than bring you comfort. By providing you with physical advantages and improvements, these two features can, and will, boost your efficiency at work. They may not be able to help you move faster or become better at what you do, but they do have a huge impact on your ability to walk and stand. Moreover, they can improve overall foot health, which can result in better performance in the long run.

Lastly, the impact (load-rate) is a factor that accelerates muscular fatigue. The more exposed you are to impact, shock, and muscular stress, the quicker your muscles will become tired; thus, these two features, also, allow you to go through long shifts with considerably less physical effort; or at least, the effort it requires to move actively.

Breathability

Depending on your work environment, this factor may be less important. Likewise, it can be critical. Even for people who work in fairly ventilated environments, a shoe that lacks breathability can be a pretty big obstacle; especially, in those environments which can become hot (e.g. standing at a stove inside of a kitchen). Furthermore, aside from blocking the flow of air into the shoe, some shoes can make it worse by not allowing heat to exit, either. Typically, these types of shoes are best suited for winter and/or cooler environments.

First off, let’s analyze the importance of breathability in a shoe. Regardless of the kind of work you perform, a completely closed shoe can cause you to retain the heat. Shoes having no mesh or leather upper and lacking ventilation for the circulation of airflow,  they are an influencing factor in sweating. The longer your shoes retain heat, the faster and longer you will sweat, as a result. Additionally, heat concentration has multiple other consequences. For instance, it makes your feet much more susceptible to irritation, can increase the chance for a bacterium to grow inside of the shoe, and cause other foot ailments such as athlete’s foot.

As previously mentioned, the humidification of a closed shoe exposes you to the development of bacteria, which at the same time, can bring about bad smells with them. But it doesn’t stop there, as these bacteria, along with the humid environment within your inner shoe, make you a perfect candidate for feet fungi. This is because the bacterium is attracted to damp environments.

The accumulation of heat within a room, such as a kitchen, is already enough of a factor to sometimes decrease your efficiency; let alone, adding to the heat by wearing a shoe with bad breathability features. Generally speaking, the thicker the shoe build, the less breathability it will deliver. This is part of the reason why sports performance shoes feature such a thin design, in general.

Color is equally important. This is, especially, important if your shoes are black, as this color does an excellent job of absorbing heat. This can be great for winter, per se, but not so much under the direct rays of glorious sunshine in midsummer.

Breathability has a role in the comfortability of a shoe, and the quality of a shoe can be directly judged based on its ability to let the air flow through it. Generally, both the upper and footbed are the elements responsible for the breathability of a shoe. By applying materials such as mesh to the upper, the airflow within a shoe can increase considerably. Furthermore, the lack of airflow can, absolutely, mess up even the best of shoes. If your feet become irritated, due to the concentration of heat, your efficiency will decay, regardless of the rest of the features and elements the shoe offers.

When breathability is required, the lack thereof is not an option. As such, we highly recommend looking for shoes which include breathable panels, especially around the most common areas of heat concentration. For maximum efficiency, the panels should be located in the forefoot (just above the toe box), the internal and external curve of the shoe (the sides), and the tongue (lacing area).

 

Flexibility

Flexibility is the very basis of any motion that involves walking, jumping, or running. The lack of flexibility translates into poor-quality of comfort, improper form, and loss of efficiency, in general. A shoe that doesn’t allow you to properly move around at work is no good, as it will not only be considerably uncomfortable but it will, also, slow you down.

In order to deliver a quality build, a shoe must be made with flexible materials. Unlike many people think, flexibility is not something that goes just on the outsole. At first glance, it may look like the place where the most flexing happens, but it’s not the only part of the shoe where flexing is responsible. The upper build materials, for example, play an important role in the flexibility of a shoe. A stiff upper will not only make walking more uncomfortable but the lack of flexibility may, also, deteriorate the materials when the shoe bends, repeatedly; as it’s nearly impossible to keep the upper from bending along the rest of the shoe. This leads to what is commonly known as a ‘caked surface’ on the upper build.

Performance-wise, flexibility is an important factor when it comes to movement, such as walking. The lack of flexibility not only damages the shoe material but it, also, places unnecessary stress on parts of your feet such as the arch. Our instinctive walk involves the ability for our feet to flex in a natural motion. This flexing, as it were, starts at the forefoot and elevates to the arch. A shoe that lacks flexibility won’t fit into this motion. In addition, this lacking will hurt your feet, as they will still try to flex while you walk. If you believe this is something you can avoid or ignore, imagine walking with your feet completely flat and straight without bending them. Aside from looking weird, walking like this places additional stress on your heels. If you’re reading this guide, you’re probably someone who stands a lot; thus, heel stress is the last thing you desire.

Additionally, people who have certain arch conditions suffer the most from shoes that lack flexibility. This is because flexibility is directly related to arch support; the lack of flexibility will, ultimately, result in the lack of arch support. Regardless of the condition, whether it’s high arch or flat foot, the lack of flexibility will considerably enhance the amount of stress on the arch.

Weight

The weight of shoes might be something underestimated by people who stand or move a lot at work. This scenario is pretty similar to that of performance scenarios in that the weight difference may not seem like a lot initially. However, the longer you use them, the greater the impact of the weight of the shoe will have on you.

It’s pretty simple; if a shoe weighs an ounce less than another pair of shoes, this is an ounce off of every single motion. While you’re not moving, you won’t even notice the difference. However, after a full shift of walking, standing, and moving around at work, heavier shoes will become your worst enemy. On the other hand, a lighter build will notably enhance long-term comfort and it will, also, reduce post-work heel and arch pain.

The main factor affecting the weight of a shoe is the materials. Usually, the heaviest element of shoes is the midsole, as it’s the thicker component of a normal shoe. While it’s important for shoes to take a minimalist approach, it’s also important to maintain the quality of the materials. Minimalist materials are lighter but, also, less resistant and durable than thicker materials. They, also, offer less protection.

The upper build, for example, is much lighter when composed of materials such as mesh and nylon. Leather, on the other hand, is heavier but, also, much more protective, generally speaking. Additionally, thin materials lack the density to act as a frame for the shoe.

Because of this, the ideal upper build design relies on a combination of both thin, lightweight materials and other firm materials that provide structure. Alternatively, certain synthesized materials deliver the features of resistant materials in a lightweight manner. We highly recommend looking for materials such as thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), with properties arguably better than rubber, and in a much lighter approach.

Ethyl-vinyl acetate (EVA) is another popular compound making its way into the shoe industry. This material has a wide variety of uses thanks to its adaptive composure. The foam-like material is widely used by manufacturers for insoles and midsoles, mostly. EVA midsoles are not only much more efficient than the traditional soles but they, also, weigh a lot less.

These synthetic materials are applied in density rather than in volume. This means manufacturers can fit 100g of EVA in a midsole in which they would only be able to fit 60g of traditional rubber. To add more rubber, the midsole would have to be bulkier. EVA, on the other hand, increases density without adding volume to the shoe – also being more effective, as there’s more of the compound present.

At a Glance

“…even though I was in Podiatry school, we spent most of our time learning surgery and medicine but I don’t remember a lot of lectures on what constituted a ‘good shoe’,” this according to Dr. Cathleen A. McCarthy, a podiatrist who has received the ‘Top Doctor’ title in Phoenix Magazine in both years of 2010 and 2014 (August 23, 2012).

So, if podiatrists are not taught what constitutes a good shoe, then what hope is there for the rest of us? Thankfully, there is much hope abroad, as there is a plethora of information within our grasp. Outside of trial and error, we have a solid foundation in which we can, confidently, understand the intricacies of a good shoe versus a bad one. Diving a little further, we can distinguish the differences between good work shoes versus the awful.

To both recap the material within this article and do so by taking in a bird’s eye view, these are the characteristics you are looking for when determining a good work shoe:

  • Fit & Pronation ­­

The fit is important. So much so, there are actual methods to help determine the right fit for you. First, however, let us figure out your pronation type, as this will guide you into understanding your arches. There are three arch types, as it were: pronation (neutral pronation; normal arches), underpronation (supination; high arches), and overpronation (low arches), relatively speaking.

  • Pronation

Is the ability for your foot to roll inward while stepping. Your natural step will directly impact the type of shoe you can wear to have an optimal fit. Those with neutral pronation are the lucky ones. Most work shoes cater to those having neutral pronation.

  • Overpronation

Shoes having a straight/semi-curve last (the straighter the better) are great for those with overpronation. Furthermore, the type of work shoes you need will have no less than a dual-density midsole in place. Additional orthotics is recommended; and as such, the work shoe you are looking for is ‘roomy.’ In addition, the shoe needs to have great stability (motion-control); thereby, limiting your ability to roll your foot, per se. Overpronators need enough room in the shoe for an added orthotic; yet, the shoe must not be overly loose, as stability is a major factor, as well.

  • Underpronation

Shoes having a curved last will promote pronation. Cross trainers are a good shoe for those with underpronation because of the flexibility factor; that is, cross trainers are perfect for allowing your feet to have greater motion. You need the most flexibility within the medial/inner; thus, allowing your arch to gain the pronation it needs.

What is a ‘last,’ you may be asking? A last, per se, is both a description of a shape; as well as, the defining characteristic of attaching the upper and midsole. There are, also, various materials used when building a last. At the end of the day, however, the main thing to remember is that those with overpronation need a straight/semi-curve last; whereas, underpronators need a curved last. This ensures a better fit; thereby, promoting better overall foot health.

Also, when considering the fit of your work shoe, a general rule is to make certain there is a thumb’s width between your longest toe and the toe box. When you purchase shoes that fit tightly and your toes touch at the end, the natural result is that your toes will retract on a subconscious level. This, in turn, will help aid your body in developing what is known as hammertoe. No one desires to have hammertoes; so, it is best to try and keep a decent amount of wiggle room.

Take your foot measurement at the end of your workday, as this is the time when your feet will swell the most. Also, ensure you use your bigger foot as the final measurement; and yes, many of us have one foot bigger than the other.

Comfort levels are directly impacted by the makeup of the shoe, your pronation type, and the shoe’s ability to perform the task you are doing. As previously mentioned, it is a bad idea to wear winter (non-breathable) shoes while standing inside of a hot kitchen, as your feet will feel like they are smoldering and you can develop negative health concerns, in addition.

Breathable, mesh uppers are great for those in need of a cooler shoe. Just keep in mind; however, they might not be an ideal choice if you work in a refrigerated environment, per se. It is always good to consider the work environment when purchasing your work shoes. In doing so, you are one step closer to adding the best shoes for work to your footwear collection.

When it is all said and done and the day at work is over; if your feet hurt, then you have the wrong shoes for the job. Likewise, when your workday has come to its end and your feet feel good, then you know without a doubt, you have the best shoes for work.

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q: How durable are shoes for work?
A: They are just about as durable as any other kind of shoe; do keep in mind the number of times you use the shoe, as this is ultimately what decides how fast it will degrade. The lifetime of a shoe worn 5 times a week should reach 2 years or more; depending on the type of job you must perform.

Q: Where to buy shoes for work?
A: Both retail stores and e-shopping are good options. However, we recommend Amazon purchases; here you’re likely to find a much greater variety and, usually, for a much better price, too. Your purchase is protected by Amazon’s policies.

Q: Which shoes should I buy for work?
A: You should select your shoes depending on the type of job you have and the activities it involves. Refer to our criteria for further information.

Q: Should I get a flat sole or a raised heel for work?
A: Flat soles are thinner and, thus, do not offer as much cushioning as heeled shoes. Yet, this doesn’t mean flat shoes are bad; it’s a matter of preference and work dress codes.

Q: Should I get a custom insole for work?
A: Customized insoles make a huge difference. A shoe may adapt to your foot shape, but a sole that molds to your foot is by far the most optimal choice for a comfortable experience.

Q: Can I use running shoes at work?
A: Performance-wise, you certainly can. Sports shoes have features such as flexibility, shock absorption, and cushioning which are critical for comfort at work. However, the dressing code at some jobs may not allow it.

Sources


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