Best Shoes for Nurses
Footwear is an extremely important part of many peoples' lives and directly affect their overall health and well being. This, combined with the rise in popularity of sports over the past century, have resulted in a wealth of research on footwear and associated injuries.
However, not many studies have investigated footwear worn by clinical professionals, particularly nurses. This came as a shock to us because when you consider the day-to-day (or night-to-night) duties performed by nurses, this population can be especially prone to musculoskeletal injuries, fatigue, and overall pain and discomfort.
Therefore, we decided to review some of the best shoes for nurses, which we hope can allow you to find appropriate footwear for your shifts, ultimately reducing pain, discomfort, fatigue, and improving overall quality of life. Below our review of the best shoes for nurses, you will be able to find more information about general footwear comfort, how different footwear can affect how you feel during and after your shift, and what the latest research has to say about footwear (please also make sure to check our reviews of 15 hand creams and lotions for nurses - where frequently washed hands result in severe problems in skin health)
Reviews of the Best Shoes for Nurses
If you read on further down in this article, you will see the reported evidence for what makes the best shoe for nurses, as well as a few key features you can focus on to make things a little more simple. When considering these reviews, keep in mind these are general consensuses that are meant to provide you with numerous options to choose from, allowing you to decide on your own which shoes may be best for you.
Women's and Men's Nursing Shoes
Average Customer Rating
Extremely popular, these are great value shoes for nurses. Very comfortable, affordable, durable, and clean look is acceptable in majority of nursing professions.
Designed specifically for nurses, these well-reviewed shoes are known for comfort on long shifts, and the stain-resistant leather keeps them looking great to matter how messy the shift.
These safeTstep shoes are known for comfort during long periods of standing and walking, while still maintaining a sporty appearance. Water-resistant and slip-resistant with a non-marking outsole.
Available in white or black, these Skechers go the extra mile with a nice EVA midsole and removable PU footbed for customization. Excellent for flat feet.
These are arguably the best nursing shoes. Classy and highly functional, these shoes incorporate many features that help with comfort over long shifts, but it comes at a higher price.
Another popular brand among nurses, they are highly functional with lab-tested slip-resistance and a stain-proof coating. With many designs available, these are a good option for those looking for a flashy design without sacrificing overall comfort and function.
Known for excellent comfort during long periods of standing or walking, these shoes leave your feet and knees feeling less sore after a long shift. Solid bang-for-your-buck.
A sleeker design with many options available. These shoes are lighter due to the memory foam insert that allows for excellent cushioning without adding weight. Size runs a little small, mainly in terms of width.
A well-known brand for nurses, these clogs are clean and classy and provide solid arch support that lasts for a long time. May take a little getting used-to if you haven't worn Danskos before.
Based solely on my own single opinion, these shoes are a great option for those on their feet for long periods of time, but still want a classic running shoe. They are very durable, but lack features ideal for a clinical setting, e.g. water/stain-resistant outer.
Best Nursing Shoes - Individual Reviews
These are by far the most popular shoes for nurses available online. Skechers in general is a really popular brand among male and female nurses alike, and they have any different models to choose from, but the Skechers Premium-Premix Slip-On Sneakers are perhaps the best all-around nursing shoes, especially when you factor in the cost.
These are some of the cheapest nursing shoes you can get, but unlike most things (especially when it comes to clothes), you actually get some solid quality out of these. The non-marking rubber sole is sturdy enough to provide solid durability over long shifts, and there are enough comfort features incorporated to help reduce any foot or knee pain developed from constant standing or walking. For example, the EVA midsole is ideal for nurses, and the padded tongue, collar, and footbed provide additional comfort.
While you may be able to further optimize your shoe selection for nursing shifts, these Skechers provide an excellent starting point to being narrowing down your personal preferences. They will still be better for nursing than most shoes, the plain look can make them quite versatile, and you don't have to worry about breaking the bank. Overall, consider these to be the best nursing shoes for overall bang-for-your-buck .
If the Skechers Sport Women's Premium-Premix Slip-On sneakers are considered excellent value, you can consider these Timberland PRO Renova Women's shoes to be excellent overall. That is, they have some advanced featured that really enhance comfort, function, and durability, but it also comes at a steeper cost.
These shoes are very well-liked among most nurses, as they were seemingly designed with a nurses shift length and tasks as the primary consideration. For example, the clean, yet classy, white design makes them extremely versatile in many settings as the 3M Scotchguard protector keeps stains from sticking. They don't appear to be overly ventilated, but the temperature-regulating footbed cover keeps your feet dry while killing odor and odor-causing bacteria. THe full-grain leather upper is also super-comfy.
In terms of what's below your feet, the Bi-Fit Tridensity footbed combines cradled heel and arch support with a flexible forefoot, making them more than suitable for long-term standing or walking. Combined, all the advanced features result in Timberland's anti-fatigue technology, which is designed to keep reduce any potential knee or back pain developed from standing and walking over the course of many shifts.
The only downside is that they feel a little more rigid than expected, especially given the raving reviews about comfort. These complaints mainly come from those with higher arches who are expecting a very soft feel. Even though they may feel a little more rigid than expected, the ergonomics are designed with long-term comfort management in mind, and with that, the majority of nurses find these to be the best nursing shoes.
Merrell is a great brand that's definitely worth considering if you spend a lot of time on your feet. These shoes have shown great results for many different professions, whether it's medical professions like nursing, the service industry, or hard labor, those who have worn them love them for comfort, function, and durability.
The full grain leather upper is good quality material, and it's also waterproof, helping it become a good shoe for nursing. Additionally, the Dri-Lex fabric lining help wick away heat and moisture from your feet to other materials, which then in turn distribute the heat and moisture to the external environment, allowing you to stay as cool and dry as possible. However, keep in mind that over the course of a 12 hour shift your feet may still become quite hot and sweaty. As an added protector, Merrell has also implemented antimicrobial agents to allow your shoes to stay smelling fresh as long as possible, even if your feet do get a little hot and sweaty.
These shoes also come with a molded nylon arch shank, which is meant to provide comfortable and strong arch support. The heel is about 1" thick and also includes the Merrell air cushion, which helps distribute force and ultimately reduces the shock you experience with each step, and as we all know, those steps really add up by the end of a 12+ hour shift!
Again, likely not made precisely for nurses, but they may as well have been! These Men's Skechers come in black or white, and the relatively plain look makes them a versatile option for lots of different medical environments where you are constantly on your feet. One of the main reasons that we think these are really good shoes for nurses is the cost. With these Skechers, you're taking minimal risk, as they are very well-liked overall and are some of the cheapest shoes for nursing that you can buy.
While these aren't overly flashy and don't contain any fancy or proprietary features, they do provide quality components where it counts. For example, the soft leather upper is durable and comfortable, the EVA midsole is one of the most recommended midsole materials for long-term use, and the removable PU footbed allows you to further customize your shoe to maximize comfort. These shoes are especially preferred by those with really flat feet.
Overall, these shoes may not look like much, but they pack in quality components where it counts and you simply can't beat the price. They are a great starting point for anyone looking to address foot, knee, or back issues as a result of prolonged standing and walking. Many people who have started with these shoes actually continue to stick with them, and if not, at least you have a better sense of what you need in a nursing shoe and you didn't have to spend a ridiculous amount of money to try them.
The Nursemate Angel Lites Women's nursing shoes are quite unique in that they weren't just developed for many different professions, rather, they were developed specifically for nurses. This is always a good sign when looking for the best pair of nursing shoes for your specific work setting.
Some people aren't a fan of the tumbled leather upper, but generally speaking, this type of material is a little more comfortable and requires way less breaking in. Also, the fact that it's white makes it barely noticeable anyway. The low profile design is really sleek, but don't worry, the function is still there.
While the leather itself gives the appearance that it may be a little more absorbent, it's actually treating with a stain-resistant finish, so you don't need to worry about that. The EVA outsoles with rubber inserts provide excellent grip on many different types of surfaces. The footbeds are nice and comfy and come with CRYZ technology to wick away sweat and moisture. They do provide good arch support as well because they added in their lightweight composite shank, which also helps with stability while walking.
Overall, these are very well-reviewed shoes for nursing that you can have confidence in, especially considering they were designed with nurses in mind. Any existing complaints are limited to small personal preference issues, such as a feet still feeling a little hot and sweaty after a 12 hour shift, but still better than some other shoes for nursing. At the end of the day, we would consider these one of the best pairs of shoes for nursing or other medical professions where you're on your feet all day or night.
Why do nurses need good shoes?
In order to evaluate qualities of shoes that are good or bad for nurses, we need to take a step back and simplify things. First, what makes a nurse's job unique that could help distinguish it from other types of specialized footwear? Here are a couple things to consider when looking around for your next pair of shoes for your nursing shifts.
- Nurses spend the vast majority of their shift on their feet. Whether it's standing, walking, or running, you will need to consider the fact that you will be wearing your shoes for extended periods of time, mostly in an upright posture.
- Nurses usually work long hours, so these periods of standing and walking can be even worse on your feet and body than many other professions.
In addition to the nature of nursing shifts, we can also look at some data that summarizes various nursing populations to help gain a sense of what the most common problems are. Of course, if you're a nurse, then you already know what sort of pain or discomfort you are experiencing, but if you're looking to help someone else out, this can be useful information.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, nursing and personal care facilities ranked first among all industries for non-fatal injuries. Many of these injuries are long term, either from having been developed over a long period of time, or from being unable to treat the injuries properly due to the necessity of having to continue working those types of shifts. The most common shoe-related problems for nurses include foot and ankle pain, leg pain and fatigue, knee pain, and lower back pain. Moreover, according to the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, more than 30% of nurses have required sick leave for these types of problems, and 25% have reported developing varicose veins in their legs. For further information about varicose veins and other footwear products that can help with such conditions, please check out our reviews of the best compression socks for nurses.
What should you look for in good nursing shoes?
Everyone has different thoughts on what they think makes a good pair of shoes. When it comes to nurses, you need to consider any of your own existing ailments, but generally speaking, research has started to point us in a direction that may allow for easier selection of good shoes for nurses.
Most research in the shoe world has revolved around running shoes, sports performance, and injury prevention in sports. While nursing isn't a sport, it's arguably just as demanding as one, so with caution, we can apply some of that research to this situation to help us find the best shoes for nurses.
There are many studies out there that have looked at specific aspects of gait patterns and how shoes can increase or decrease risk of injury. For example, sole material and subsequent stiffness, arch support, heel height, shoe width, overall shoe shape, material of shoe upper, traction of the sole, etc, have all been investigated in detail. However, there is only one such study (that we know of) that directly compares shoes for nursing applications, and here's what they had to say:
- Arch support can help disperse arch pressure, ultimately reducing pain, as well as reducing fatigue in the calf muscles.
- A 1.5 cm thick (0.6 inches or 3/5 of an inch) outsole in the metatarsal zone can reduce pressure, impact forces, and help with low back pain.
- A soft shoe upper, for example a nice soft leather, can promote whole-body and foot comfort.
- Midsoles made with EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) or PU (polyurethane) can promote whole-body and foot comfort.
- An outsole with a heel height of 1.8-3.6 cm (0.7-1.4 inches or roughly 3/4 to 1-1/2 inches) can reduce pressure and impact forces in the forefoot, as well as reduce overall ankle discomfort.
There are tons of other biomechanical studies out there that have often focused on how shoe construction can affect ground reaction forces, force distribution along the foot, forces and torque about the ankle and knee joints, etc. However, other than the aforementioned nursing study, many of these are specific to way different applications, and even further, many of these contradict each other.
What we're trying to say is that it's really easy to get caught up in all the nitty-gritty, but at the end of the day, it can be really confusing for people to understand and apply this information to their own lives in a beneficial manner. This may seem like a defeat sending us back to Square 1; however, one outcome does seem to consistently rise above the rest that can help identify the best shoe for a nurse, and it's more simple than you may think!
In a study written by one of world's leading experts on shoes and lower limb biomechanics, it was suggested that we rethink how we evaluate shoes altogether. Given all the contradictory evidence present in the literature, it seems clear that one outcome may be more reliable than the rest, and this outcome is comfort. This study focused on running injuries, but we can still consider this information useful.
In this review study, the authors provide evidence of contradiction in the literature, but they note some consistent patterns as well. For example, they noticed that shoes that runners found to be most comfortable based on their own personal opinion eventually led to a decreased frequency of movement-related injury. Secondly, they also noticed that comfortable shoes led to less overall oxygen consumption, suggesting that they could be beneficial in reducing rate of fatigue as well.
This may seem painfully obvious, but when it is something that has been consistently reported, it should be considered just as strongly, if not more, than some of the cutting edge outcomes currently being investigated in research labs. Additionally, it's easy to lose sight of these broad outcomes like comfort, especially when companies market shoes with lots of different strategies.
Best Shoes for Nurses - General Consensus
Therefore, if you only pick one thing to focus on when searching for the best shoes for nurses, we suggest focusing on comfort. If you're not sure which shoes you will find most comfortable, try and stick with something that you are familiar with, and also consider some of the information provided by the study we mentioned above that compares different types of nursing shoes.
Good luck, and have a good shift!