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Top 8 Best Shoes for Nurses

UpdatedFebruary 29, 2024

In my practice as a nurse, standing all day has never been easy. Combine it with running around, attending to the ER and OR patients, and doing rounds, bad shoes can be hell. Wearing uncomfortable shoes for long shifts can not be an option because of potential issues like plantar fasciitis, sore feet, joint pain, back pain, and heel pain. This is why I am exploring the best shoes for nurses.

My first pick is the New Balance sneakers which checks all my boxes including a fashionable look, cushioned insoles, great grip on the ground and a lightweight finish. The shoes are comfortable for working all day or night long. My second option is the Bistro clog which is easy to wear and remove, an advantage it has over New Balance. Bistro is my go to for emergencies. My third option is the Alegria because it is APMA approved and from my experienced, the shoes live up to those standards. Alegria further has a hook and loop to get just the right fit for my feet while keeping the risk that comes with laces at bay.

Before we look at all my 8 favorite nurse shoes in my wardrobe, what exactly is a nurse shoe?

What are Nurse Shoes?

Nurses can use any shoes. However, some shoes work better for nurses who need more precise features on the shoes due to the needs that come with attending shifts. For instance, nurses need comfortable shoes, a good grip, enough toe boxes, lightweight, and more features that we talk about later. But first, here are my top picks I use during my shifts as a nurse.

Best Shoes for Nurses

New Balance 608v5 Sneakers

The Editor's Choice

With a soft rubber insole for fatigue-free comfort, these shoes absorb impact effortlessly. Say goodbye to heel pressure and hello to non-slip soles, perfect for any weather. Step up your style game with New Balances - they're perfect for both work and play!

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New Balance is not only a household name, but the shoes live up to their reputation. From a soft rubber insole that keeps me on my feet all day or night without fatigue on my back. The shoes absorb any hard impacts and there is no pressure on the heels with every step I make. The New Balance rubber soles are non-slip and are safe for use under any kind of weather or floor.

New Balances are one of the most stylish options in my collection, and I can pull them off on my day shifts.

Pros

  • Stylish
  • Slip-resistant
  • Comfortable
  • Lightweight
  • Great arch support

Cons

  • The laces make the shoes cumbersome to wear at a moment's notice

Unisex Bistro Clog

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When I have had a long week and I need something lightweight and supportive, Bistro clogs are my go-to option. The clogs are not only lightweight but are low maintenance as they are easy to clean. Bistro clogs have a slip-resistant sole which keeps me on the move with confidence knowing I do not have to worry about slipping.

Bistro further has a roomy fit and is great for keeping toes fresh and keeping fungal infections away. Bistro clogs have a strap at the back to keep the shoes snug when running around.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to clean
  • Slip-resistant
  • Designed for work
  • Roomy fit

Cons

  • The shoes run large when ordering online

Alegria Women Paloma Leather Shoes

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Alegria shoes are APMA approved, which in my books, gives the shoes a clean bill of health for use by nurses. When purchasing shoes, I realized that most shoes do not have this approval, which is a confirmation that the pair of shoes is okay to use daily.

Alegria shoes are handstitched, making it a reputable brand, as handstitched shoes tend to have a better finish done with precision.

Alegria shoe has a leather upper and lining. Furthermore, the shoe brand has a hook and loop closure, which is adjustable. Alegria shoes have the advantage of slip-on shoes, making them easier to wear at a moment's notice. The hook and loop give the shoe advantages that laced shoes enjoy, without the risk that comes with laced shoes.

Alegria has a polyurethane, double-density sole that is not only durable but lightweight too. The non-marking, slip-resistant sole makes Alegria one of the safest options to use. Alegria shoes have a padded collar to avoid bruising the foot when walking or standing for long periods.

Pros

  • APMA approved
  • Lightweight shoes
  • Dual polyurethane soles
  • Non-marking outsole
  • Handstitched
  • Padded collar

Cons

  • Leather shoes are high maintenance

Anywear Clog Nurse Shoes

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Whenever I am in the emergency section, movements are rapid and frequent. In such instances, the Anywear clogs come in handy because they provided a high rebound injection that aids with quick motion. Furthermore, the outer sole is slip resistant, which gives me much-needed assurance in high-motion situations.

The challenge most people face when choosing shoes is getting the right toe box, and Anywear has a roomy toe box to keep the toes comfortable and in a breathable state. The cushioning in the inner soles and the shock absorption in the outer soles make the shoe comfortable and reduce the pain for anyone who has plantar fasciitis pain.

It is easy to style Anywear clogs because they come in various colors and shades, making them a fashionable part of my scrubs.

Pros

  • Different shades and pattern decorations
  • Roomy toe box
  • Lightweight option
  • Slip-resistant soles
  • Cushioned insole
  • Shock absorption
  • Perfect shoes for nurses during emergencies

Cons

  • The shoes do not have a breathable upper

Dansko LT Pro Clogs

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Dansko professional clogs are built for comfort and support. As a long-standing professional who is always on their feet, I rely on Dansko clogs to keep my feet comfortable during long shifts because they have a natural arch support technology featuring memory foam insoles. The memory form imprints my natural foot arch to keep me balanced.

Dansko has quality leather uppers that keep the shoes stylish while keeping my feet warm during cold nights.

Dansko shoes have a very important feature that most other shoes do not have, and that is the removable footbed which gives room for custom orthotics. Customizable shoes have a wide variety of users with varying foot sizes.

Pros

  • Customizable orthotics
  • Quality leather uppers
  • High-performance clogs
  • Stylish shoes
  • All-day comfort
  • Lightweight sole
  • Memory-foam cushioning

Cons

  • The upper leather is not breathable

Hoka One One Bondi 7 Sneakers

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Hoka One One is one of the most comfortable shoes I have. The shoes come in handy for nursing and many other situations in my day-to-day activities. Whenever I have plans after my shift, Hoka is my go-to shoe.

During my shifts, the shoes keep me on my feet without worrying about the shoe's weight. I can do strenuous activities like running around comfortably because the shoes have a breathable mesh upper which keeps my feet fresh all day or night.

Hoka has shock absorption soles that reduce the impact on my feet, keeping plantar fasciitis pain at bay. The built-in arch support with extra cushioning keeps my feet comfortable and relaxed.

Pros

  • Comfortable shoes for nurses
  • Stylish for use both in and out of the hospital
  • Shock absorbing sole
  • Sticky nonslip shoes
  • Durable rubber outsole

Cons

  • Adjusting the laces on the shoes is time-consuming

Gales Frontline Nurse Shoes

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Gales are slip-on shoes that I always have on standby when I need to get to a patient at a moment's notice. The shoes have no laces that take away precious time that I can use to attend to a patient. Gales shoes are ultra-soft and feel good on foot. The ultra-lightweight material is the patented XL EXTRALIGHT️ which is almost thrice more lightweight compared to normal soles.

Gales shoes for nurses are non-slip both on wet and dry surfaces, making them the go-to for rainy days when the slippage risk is at an all-time high. Gales are waterproof, which sets them apart from other shoe brands. Furthermore, the shoes are machine-washable, meaning I can keep a clean look with the shoes. Other than white, Gales comes in many other colors to match my scrubs.

Pros

  • Lightweight shoes
  • Slip-resistant
  • Slip-on for easy wear and remove cycles
  • Neat and stylish
  • Comfortable soles
  • Water-proof shoes
  • Machine washable

Cons

  • No breathable mesh upper

Nike Air Zoom Pulse Shoes

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Whenever I wear sneakers or shoes, the pull tab is one of the most convenient features I enjoy using, and Nike sneakers have them. The Nike Air Zoom Pulses are no exception, and I use the shoes mostly when I am in a hurry. I can wear the shoes without paying attention to them.

The Nike Air Zoom has an elastic heel strap to grab onto the foot without causing heel pain and too much friction. With good arch support, I can count on the Nike Air Zoom to keep my back painless after my shifts.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Pull tab for fast wear and remove
  • Elastic heel strap for maximum grip on the foot
  • Stylish
  • Specifically designed for medics with a pulse line to symbolize vitality

Cons

  • Once the elastic band once damaged, the shoe is rendered useless.

Factors to Consider When Looking for the Best Shoes for Nurses

a) Weight

Wearing heavy shoes for long periods can have lasting negative effects on the body. First, the fatigue that comes with wearing heavy shoes can wear the body down after a while, making it harder to attend to patients properly. Furthermore, heavy shoes can cause bruises on the foot, leading to injuries that directly affect mobility and efficiency, especially when you need to be running in the ER.

Heavy shoes have far, much worse effects than fatigue and bruises. Heavy shoes can cause tendonitis by pulling the ligaments on the foot, causing inflammation of tendons and tendon sheaths. Since you are always on your feet, heavy shoes can increase the chances of falling when running around in the hospital.

Light shoes, on the other hand, have a lot of advantages, including improved mobility, reduced risk of tripping, less fatigue, and no risk of painful ligaments.

b) Non-Slip

In the hospital, you can expect to be dealing with a lot of fluids that sometimes spill on the ground. This is because patients sometimes bleed out, throw up, or spill their drinks, understandably, and you need to be able to protect yourself from falling into such situations.

Slip-resistant shoes come in handy, especially in the ER, where something is always happening, especially on rainy days when more people are prone to accidents.

c) Easy to Clean

A neat look is part of caring for patients and nurse shoes need to be as clean as possible. Other than the look, you are working in a hospital where there are possible infectious pathogens, and you need to clean your shoes every other time.

Since we barely have extra time as healthcare workers, we do not want to spend all our free time cleaning our shoes if the shoes are machine-washable, the better.

For cleaning purposes, I try to keep materials like leather at bay when choosing shoes because leather takes a lot of processes to clean.

d) Arch Support

The foot has three arches; the medial, lateral, and anterior transverse arch. These three arches ensure the body is well balanced, and should one be out of balance, the whole body is affected since there is no proper alignment of joints.

The arch support on nursing shoes helps in keeping the body aligned. To avoid getting fatigued, the hips, knees, back, and feet need to be aligned properly. This avoids the chances of the foot and other joints getting serious conditions.

Other than the arch type, the intensity of the arch makes a huge difference in shoes. This intensity can be seen in how much indentation is on foot.

Some people have a neutral arch, which is well-balanced and natural. People with flat feet have a flat arch on them. There are feet with a high arch which leaves more space at the bottom of the feet. For this reason, shoes need cushioned soles to provide ample arch support.

e) Comfortable Shoes

The reason why we are looking at all these features is to end up with comfortable shoes. With great comfort, you will focus on other things other than how much you want to go home and remove the shoes. Comfortable shoes, like the ones we have listed above, need to be snug on your feet without wobbling each time you are on the move. Furthermore, you can not afford to wear tight shoes all day.

f) Clog-Shaped Shoes

The clog is a shoe that is made for comfort as the contoured arch provides maximum support on the curvature of the foot, reducing foot fatigue. Furthermore, since the shoes provide arch support, they reduce the chances of getting a painful back, ankles, legs, knees, and other back muscles.

g) Breathable Shoes

As a nurse, I spend all day or night being active and almost always on my feet. For this reason, my feet will tend to sweat, especially whenever I am doing my rounds or working in the ER. Breathable shoes keep my feet cool from all the heat my body emits when I am very active. Furthermore, the shoes keep my feet fresh by allowing the sweat to vaporize and get out of the shoe instead of being held inside.

Breathable shoes are rarely smelly as there are fewer chances of bacteria and fungi growing in the shoes due to the accumulation of sweat.

h) Wide Toe Box

The toe box in shoes plays a huge role as the toe tends to suffer the most due to how much does vary from one person to another. If there is not enough room for toes, the toes will rub against the walls of the shoe, irritating the foot. More serious problems like ingrown toenails may arise due to a small toe box.

A roomy toe box allows for the toes to wiggle and move around. Having the toes in a tight position all day may make your feet sore at the end of your shift.

i) Durable Outer Sole

As a nurse, I spend all day or night walking around. If the sole on the shoe is not durable, buying nursing shoes will be a costly affair before long. Rubber soles are good for nurses as they are durable and have good traction on them. Furthermore, rubber soles do not leave markings on the ground and squeaking noises when running around the hospital.

Polyurethane soles are another option. The material is lightweight and has good shock-absorbing properties. Polyurethane is well-insulated and gives a flexible finish on the sole. Polyurethane makes durable soles just as rubber does.

j) Cushioned Insoles

Cushioned insoles come with a variety of advantages. First, a cushioned sole provides great arch support as it is in direct contact with the arches of the foot. Then, a cushioned sole reduces irritation and discomfort from the actual sole of the shoe.

Since the insole is where the shoe interacts directly with the foot, a cushioned sole reduces the chances of getting blisters as a result of friction between the sole and the foot.

Cushioned shoes help with better posture because when the arches are comfortable, good posture is easier to achieve. When the shoe is cushioned, heel pain is eradicated since the heel is the first contact with the ground when walking.

For those who overpronate, cushioned midsole helps with realigning the foot. This is the case with feet that supinate.

k) Sharp Objects Resistant

Shoes that have thick soles come in handy for use in hospitals and while there are very few cases of negligence that end up with blades and needles lying around, caution comes first. Furthermore, we are taught to be extra careful with sharp objects. However, emergencies do occur and in such instances, we always need to be extra cautious.

l) Shock Absorption

The arch of the foot acts like a natural shock absorber. My job as a nurse involves walking and standing for most of my shift. For this reason, the shock-absorbing midsole comes in handy to take the impact that comes from my body when walking around by aiding the arch of the foot to function optimally.

Shock absorption on shoes reduces the chances of getting an injury and joint pains. Furthermore, shock absorption reduces pain in the muscles.

m) Laces vs No Laces

Laces have both their advantages and disadvantages on nursing shoes. On the good side, laces give me the comfort of ensuring my shoes are snug on my feet. I can increase or reduce the tightness as I please. Furthermore, laces can lead to more stylish shoes for nurses, with different lace patterns to try out.

Shoes without laces are easy to wear and save time in case of an emergency. Zero shoe laces make it easy to just slip on shoes at a moment's notice.

n) Size/Fit

When picking shoes, there are shoe sizes that you can pick from. Since different people with different sizes of feet, shoes come in many sizes. When picking shoes, remember that there are sizes that run true and those that either run small or large. It is better to try out shoes before buying them if you are purchasing them in a physical store. If you are buying the shoes online, look at the reviews and decide whether it is worth it.

o) Stiff Sole

Cushioning is great on shoes. However, if shoes are cushioned without support, the strain on the foot is not taken care of. Therefore, a stiff sole is required to realize the intention of the cushioning insole.

p) Foot Shape

No two people have a similar foot shape. Therefore, shoes do not fit the same way for two people with similar foot sizes. For this reason, it is important to try out shoes before putting your money on them. Buying shoes online can make it harder to know if the shoes will fit or not, and that is the risk of making online purchases.

q) Toe Shape

Toes vary widely for different people. Getting the right shoes is equivalent to ensuring toes are comfortable, especially for closed-toe shoes. Shoes with a narrow toe box would be problematic to people who have a wide toe profile. There are four general types of toe profiles in different people, including;

  • Round Toes
  • Almond Toes
  • Pointed Shoes
  • Square Toes

Risks of Wearing Bad Shoes as a Nurse

The wearer of a shoe knows where it pinches most. However, when you are a nurse wearing bad shoes, you may develop problems worse than just a pinch

Here are some risks that are a result of bad shoes.

i) Unaligned Body

As kids, we learn how to stand before we learn how to walk. This is because feet find a natural balance to keep the body upright. Once our feet have found the balance, the body creates a posture around the balance. When choosing shoes, it is wise to find shoes that do not interfere with this posture significantly, as this might lead to joint pains and discomfort.

To ensure the body is well balanced, focus on the type of arch support a shoe provides. Foot arches directly affect how our bodies align.

ii) Back Pain

Bad shoes lead to strained lumbar spinal muscle action, which can be painful. Bad posture as a result of poor arch support leads to pain in the back as well. The intervertebral disks on the back can compress when the posture is poor, causing pain after a while.

iii) Joint Pains

Since shoes have a direct effect on the joints. That is why wearing high heels for long periods can be tiring. This is the case with nurse shoes as well. Having proper footwear as a nurse reduces joint pains by providing cushioned insoles that reduce pressure on the joints by allowing the body to take its natural form.

iv) Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails are toes that grow into the skin. This happens at the side of the toenail as the nail grows into the soft flesh. Ingrown toenails can cause pain in the skin, swelling, and inflammation.

Other than pain, ingrown toenails can lead to infections on the foot as a result of the wound caused by the toenail. Fungal infections can occur as a result of ingrown toenails when microorganisms get beneath the nail.

v) Foot Corns

While the term "foot corns" might not be popular, the occurrence is popular. Foot corns are callouses that form as a result of rubbing against the shoes. If the shoe applies pressure on the same spot for a long period, the skin will form callouses to prevent injury. Foot corns are not harmful unless there is pain on the foot which might be a signal for something more serious.

Foot corns come along when you wear small shoes. Other causes of foot corn can be shoes with a small toe box which can cause pressure on the foot.

vi) Athlete's Foot

An athlete's foot is a fungal infection caused by a dermatophyte, which is a fungal species. This condition can be caused by tight shoes that cramp toes together, creating a condition for the fungus to grow. As a result of the athlete's foot, the toes will flake and experience itching.

Athletes' foot is controlled by using antifungals or cleaning the toes properly every day. Since an athlete's foot is contagious, it can easily spread to other parts of the foot and, further, other shoes.

vii) Foot Bunions

A foot bunion is a bony bump that forms at the joint of the big toe. The bunion can also form on the joints of the small toe. Bunions occur when toes tend to move out of place. When you wear shoes with a small toe box, toes can be pushed out of place as a result. When toes are pushed towards one side, the bone at the base of the toe is exposed.

The exposed bone at the base of the toe can suffer inflammation as a result of rubbing on the shoes, forming callouses and making the problem worse.

Foot bunions can be a result of arthritis or foot deformities. If you have a larger-than-average toe, then you might be at risk of getting foot bunions.

viii) Hammertoes

Hammertoes are joints on the toes that point upwards instead of lying flat. Wearing short shoes with narrow sides can lead to hammertoes as a result of the pressure that is applied to the foot.

Hammertoes make the foot muscles get weak and pull the tendons, which have far-reaching effects.

Hammertoes bring along with them other challenges like corn due to the improper positioning of the toes.

ix) Plantar Fasciitis

When the plantar fascia is inflamed, you can develop plantar fasciitis. Plantar fascia is the fibrous tissue that lies at the bottom of the foot connecting the heel bone to the toes. When the tissue is inflamed, the foot becomes painful.

Plantar fasciitis is a risk to nurses because it can be a result of standing for long periods, which nurses do.

x) Physical Injury

If you are wearing improper shoes that do not fit properly, it is very easy to trip and fall. The body takes a while to recalibrate to new shoes, and those that do not fit might be a bit problematic.

Frequently Asked Questions About Best Shoes for Nurses

1) What shoes are best for the medical field?

New Balance sneakers are one of the best shoes for nurses in my wardrobe. The shoes are comfortable with shock-absorbing outsoles. The insoles are well cushioned and are great for standing all day long. The shoes are stylish and complement my look as a nurse, which is a great confidence booster for patients. New Balances are a big name in the fashion industry, and its functional design for medical professionals makes it a full package for a nurse.

2) Are crocs good for nurses?

Crocs are good for nurses because they are slip resistant and are lightweight compared to other materials or shoes. Furthermore, crocs can be fastened from the back to keep them from sliding off, and are a type of slip-on shoes that can be worn at a moment's notice. Crocs are well cushioned and feel soft on the foot.

3) Are walking or running shoes good for nurses?

Running shoes or high-activity shoes like tennis shoes make some of the best nursing shoes because they are breathable, lightweight, and have a good grip to avoid slipping on wet floors. Furthermore, most running shoes are made to sit snugly on the foot when running to keep foot fatigue at bay. If you wear tennis shoes, you would be better off than wearing industrial shoes as a nurse.

Running shoes are not the only shoes nurses can wear as walking shoes come in handy for use in a hospital shift too. Walking shoes are more or less built like running shoes as they are high-activity shoes.

The downside of walking and running shoes is shoelaces. Shoelaces can be disadvantageous because it takes longer to put the shoes on at a moment's notice.

4) What is the most comfortable shoe for standing all day?

Alegria Women Paloma shoes are APMA approved for standing for long periods and are the best shoes for nurses. The shoes are comfortable and lightweight, making them a perfect pick for nurses or anyone in the service industry. Alegria clogs are easy to wear and remove, making them a convenience from the word go. I use the clogs for their padded collar, which protect my feet from injury during long shifts.

Conclusion

As a nurse, shoes have a direct impact on my productivity. Even more importantly, shoes play a huge role in my safety on my job. Therefore, when picking my shoes, I try to be as particular as possible with the features and specifications. For this reason, I have the most preferred options above.

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