Healthcare Footwear: The 5 Best Shoes for Nurses

Healthcare Footwear: The 5 Best Shoes for Nurses

Did you know that high-quality nursing shoes can improve your work efficiency? Certain features can align your posture, eliminate pain, and facilitate movement. Conversely, shoes with poor support are energy draining and jeopardize your safety. Among nurses, five types of footwear are common. Here you’ll learn what’s best for your field of work. Your feet will do a happy dance!

Desirable Features

The ideal nursing footwear is lightweight and slip-resistant. Sturdy material helps to stabilize your ankles. Inner soles should keep your feet from rolling inward or outward, termed pronation and supination, respectively. Outer soles must provide plantar support and shock absorption.

The most popular shoe styles for nurses are clogs, slip-ons, tennis shoes, athletic sneakers, and crocs. If you have foot deformities or nerve pathology, it’s wise to consult with a podiatrist for footwear advice. Conventional nursing shoes may not be suitable for hammer toes, high arches, and pronation. A custom orthotic and orthopedic shoes can resolve some foot problems.

Another consideration is whether your employer’s dress code mandates a certain type of shoe for nurses. Most healthcare facilities require closed-toe footwear, without portholes, to prevent foot injury and exposure to infection. Some nursing departments specify the color white.

Benefits

Arch support promotes good posture, helping to prevent pain in the hips, back, and knees. Cushioning outer soles reduce the tendency to develop achy legs and heels. Durable and flexible material makes muscle cramping less likely. Lightweight shoes aid speedy responses to work demands.

1. Clogs

This is the most popular shoe style among nurses. The safest clogs for medical professionals have closed rather than open backs. Some have a posterior strap to keep the shoe from slipping off the foot.

One standard feature of clogs is reinforced toe guards, shielding your feet from blunt force and falling objects. Secondly, clogs lack shoelaces, so the tops exert less pressure and tension on your feet than other designs. The wide toe box is kind to bunions.

Most clogs have a waterproof exterior, such as rubber or resin. Shoes made of leather or suede may have a water-resistant coating.

A cork insole has the advantage of promoting good posture, thereby lowering stress on your knees, hips, and back. A rocker bottom reduces joint pressure and foot fatigue. The rocker launches a propelling momentum, facilitating rapid strides. A padded collar prevents heel chafing.

You need to be cautious when shopping for clogs. Fashionable shoes may not be supportive, making you vulnerable to foot pain and falls. Flimsy clogs strain your joints and back. When trying on clogs, assess for their degree of grip against slippage. Also, while walking, your gait shouldn’t feel stiff. A good fit enables flexible movement, enhanced by inner padding.

Dansko Women's Pro Xp Mule Shoe
Dansko Professional XP Mule Shoes

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An example of quality clogs is the Dansko Professional. The shoe has a leather upper and synthetic outer sole. Heel height is 1.75 inches. The clog comes in 20 colors. A white model is the XP, with a wide, reinforced toe box. The black XP Mule is designed for men. Since Dansko hails from Europe, sizing differs from US manufacturers, running somewhat smaller. Therefore, it’s recommended to order up by 1½ sizes.

If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, the AnyWear Women’s Exact Clog is a leather-free alternative. With a synthetic upper and rubber sole, the shoe is lightweight and flexible. The 1.25-inch heel meets standard dress code requirements. Nubs on the outsole provide good traction.

Note that the clog insole is rather firm, not cushy. While this feature aids being on your feet all day, the fit can require an adjustment period. If you prefer a softer footbed, try a slip-on.

2. Slip-Ons

Do your nursing responsibilities involve travel to various areas within your healthcare facility? If so, the slip-on style may be advantageous. Infection control policies can require changing shoes upon entering certain departments, to prevent the spread of germs. A slip-on style easily accommodates the need to switch footwear.

Alegria Debra White Napa Leather Nurses Shoes
Alegria Debra White Napa Leather Nurses Shoes

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A female favorite is the Alegria Women’s Debra slip-on. The upper is stain-proof leather. The footbed is a hybrid material, made of latex and cork memory foam. This design molds to the contours of your feet, for a customized fit. Elastic side inserts called gores provide snugness. The outsole has a mild rocker bottom, and the heel is 1.5 inches. This slip-on is available in nine jazzy prints.

For a more conservative look, consider a loafer type, such as the Nurse Mates Leather Dove. The upper is stain-resistant, and the steel shank adds walking stability. Like the Alegria Women’s Debra, this slip-on has elastic gores. The heel is 1.5 inches high, and the outsole is grooved for traction. Available colors are white, black, and metallic navy patent.

3. Tennis Shoes

Typically worn by sports enthusiasts, tennis shoes for nurses offer comfort, arch support, and shock absorption. They ensure more plantar cushioning than clogs and slip-ons. With their flat outsoles, tennis shoes are stabilizing, ideal if your feet pronate or supinate. The large toe box accommodates bunions. Models are available to remedy both high arches and flat feet. Tennis shoes offer superior grip support on wet floors. They also lend balance during quick changes in direction.

A highly-rated brand of nursing tennis shoes is Asics, with gel cushioning. This feature provides outstanding shock absorption and plantar support. Gel also molds to your foot with time, becoming more comfortable with wear. Asics’ leather upper is stain-resistant, and the rubber outsole offers good traction.

ASICS Women's Gel-Game Point Tennis Shoe
ASICS Gel-Game Point Tennis Shoes

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Praised by female nurses is the Asics Women’s Gel-Game Point Tennis Shoe. This model provides firm arch support and extra padding at the collar and tongue. The heel measures 1.25 inches. Available colors are white and black.

For male nurses, comparable to the ladies’ model is the Asics Men’s GEL-Dedicate 4 Tennis Shoe. Perforated mesh uppers and overlays allow a man’s feet to breathe.

4. Athletic Sneakers

Sneakers have less lateral support than tennis shoes. However, sneakers tend to be more flexible. High-quality sneakers suit nurses when they’re lightweight, shock-absorbing, non-skid, and water-resistant.

Skechers for Work Women's Soft Stride-Softie Slip Resistant Lace-Up
Skechers for Work Soft Stride-Softie Slip Resistant Lace-Up Nursing Shoes

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One brand that meets these criteria is the Skechers for Work Women’s Soft Stride Softie Lace-Up. The leather upper is strategically perforated for air circulation. Laces are made of strong nylon, and the insoles have athlete-grade cushioning. The gripping rubber sole meets OSHA standards for chemical and oil resistance. Available colors are white and black.

Another sneaker competitor is the leather Dansko Elise Oxford, with a slip-resistant outsole. This brand looks professional, more like a walking shoe than a sneaker. Elise comes in 15 colors.

5. Crocs

Created for boating, casual crocs have lateral portholes in the toe box. However, crocs designed for the medical profession lack these exposed air vents. Like clog footwear, the croc has an optional posterior strap. Croc material is typically foam resin, making it flexible.

Nurses favor crocs since they’re waterproof, lightweight, and easy to clean. However, they don’t shield your feet from impact or sharp objects. Some healthcare facilities prohibit medical staff from wearing crocs, so check with your employer before buying them.

If crocs are allowed at your place of employment, wear them only if you work part-time or mostly seated. While they offer good arch support, the unstable heel doesn’t suit day-long use. When your heel isn’t secure, your toes work harder to grip the footbed. Consequently, you become vulnerable to foot tendinitis. Additionally, worn long-term, crocs worsen corns, ingrown toenails, and calluses.

Two brands amenable to short nursing shifts have solid construction and covered heels. They also lack air vents, protecting your feet from fluids.

Crocs Women's Mercy Work Clog
Crocs Mercy Work Clogs

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The Crocs Mercy Work is made of resin and can be sterilized. The covered heel has a companion back strap. Small nubs on the inner sole exert a massaging effect when you walk. The Mercy Work also provides more arch support than casual crocs. The outsole bottom has a gripped surface for slip resistance. If you wear a half shoe size, round down to the next whole size.

If you’re a male nurse, the Tummler Crocs Work is an option. Although sold as a croc, it’s more like a completely closed slip-on. A unique benefit is the brushed poly fleece lining, offering more interior protection and warmth than most crocs. The leather upper is waterproof, and the outsole is slip-resistant.

Making a Choice

Each of the above shoe styles has distinctive merits. With reinforced toe guards, clogs protect your forefeet from impact injury. A cork insole promotes good posture, and a rocker bottom facilitates quick footwork.

Opt for slip-ons if you must switch shoes to comply with infection control policies when entering certain medical departments. Do you routinely transport patients? If so, choose tennis shoes, enabling you to walk quickly and change direction without ankle and muscle strain.

Though sneakers don’t have as much lateral support as tennis shoes, they’re also suitable if you’re very active. If your employer approves, medical crocs are okay, so long as you’re not at risk for foot impact and spend little time walking and standing. Unlike casual crocs, medical styles lack portholes that expose you to germs. They’re also waterproof, lightweight, and easy to clean.

You aren’t limited to the above styles. A shoe suits nursing work if it’s closed-toed, waterproof, lightweight, and shock-absorbing. It must also ensure good support at the arches, outsole, and ankles.

The right shoe can protect you from injury, infection, fatigue, pain, and falls. Admittedly, that’s a tall order, but a quality shoe can fit the bill. For the sake of your health, safety, and job efficiency, wear a well-made nursing shoe.

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The Best Shoes for Nurses

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