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An Overview of the Best Shoes for Nurses


There’s no doubt that having the right kind of shoe in the nursing profession is important. For anyone who says it doesn’t matter hasn’t worked three straight twelve hour shifts in a busy, always-on-the-move, healthcare environment on hard tile floors.  It does matter!

Without the support of a quality nursing shoe, your joints, hips, knees, legs, and back will tell you it’s time to get serious about buying a nursing shoe that will keep the aches and pains away. You don’t have to experience painful shin splints, heel pain, numbness, or other lower extremity problems before you decide to make a move to find the best shoes for nurses possible.

We’re here to tell you not to fret because it’s not difficult to find a comfortable nursing shoe that makes an otherwise hard-working day on your feet much more bearable. Don’t bring the angst and discomfort from your feet into the workplace when you already have the dual task of caring for patients and working alongside other nurses and doctors.

Why It’s Important to Buy the Best Shoes for Nurses

What you’ll find today is everything you could possibly need to make an educated and informed decision about the best shoes for nurses. This includes all the characteristics you’re looking for in a nursing shoe, the multitude of nursing shoe styles, the variety of nursing shoe brands, and other essential tips and personal experience stories that will leave you 100%  ready to give your feet and joints a well-deserved treat.

Dansko is one of the most respected shoes in the market. Our overall top choice is the: Dansko Women’s Professional Tooled Clog

Dansko Women’s Professional Tooled Clog Remember that buying a nursing tennis shoe is not as easy as popping into your local sports store and discovering a running shoe that contains your favorite colors, is cheap, and has been advertised well on television. No longer should you head straight to the markdown shoes and find the most affordable shoe that “looks good”. (The same goes for the belief that the most expensive shoe in the store must be good).

The are many other aspects that you must take into consideration, one being whether your employer maintains a strict dress code all the way down to the color or type of shoe to wear. While buying shoes for nurses is a bit different than buying other running shoes or cross trainers, it’s not a whole lot more difficult. The following components will help you choose the best nursing shoe that is both pleasing aesthetically and is comfortable for your long shift.

What Characteristics To Look for In a Nursing Shoe

Nursing is perhaps one of the most challenging and demanding tasks on the planet. One of the reasons for this is the fact that nurses are practically always on the move. Such a tough job requires footwear that is crafted with the objective of withstanding the wear and tear of constant pressure, while guaranteeing an optimum level of comfort. Great features that point in the direction of an excellent nursing shoe are as follows:

Safety: a good nursing shoe should be able to stand up to adverse environments, while protecting from the embarrassment of falls. This feature is of utmost importance in the hospital setting, due to regular spills and exposure to biohazards, chemicals, bodily fluids, and water. Good nursing shoes are usually fitted with a very durable rubber out-sole to withstand such adverse conditions.

If you’re coming off a recent injury or in the midst of rehab, having a shoe that will provide you with security and top level support is imperative to getting through your day without further aggravation or re-injury.

For top safety, we like the:

Timberland PRO Women’s Renova Slip-OnComfort: this feature is, par excellence, one of the most important, since nurses are known for performing long shifts.  The insole of the nurse shoes should adjust perfectly around the feet without squeezing. Shoes for nurses are usually designed with extra padding to accommodate long hours of standing and moving around the wards, with very little pressure exerted on the feet. Certain nurses’ shoes may also carry special gel or cushion inserts to promote comfortable walking.

Likewise, good nurse shoes are usually fitted with thick soles to cushion the feet from the feeling of direct contact with the hard flooring. A lack of these important features can be considered as a nurse’s nightmare! You should recognize comfort the minute you’ve stepped into your new shoe, and not after a “breaking-in” period — a myth that is often associated with new shoes.

For top comfort, we like the:

Skechers Women’s Premium-Premix Slip-On SneakerLightweight: weight is a very big issue when it comes to shoes for nurses. Carrying around heavy footwear on long shifts can be a very uncomfortable and straining practice for all, not to mention the fact that certain situations may require speed and constant attention. Lightweight nursing shoes are perfect for the job, since they never add any excess burden to the job. After a rough shift, nurses should not have to be worrying about aching legs and fast recovery for the next shift is crucial. Lightweight shoes for nurses make all of this possible. Make this a priority when you’re seeking out the best in nurses shoes.

For top lightweight shoes, we like the:

NURSE MATES Women’s Dove AwarenessArch Support: this feature is very important, since most people have a natural arch on the inner part of the soles of their feet. Unless it’s a rare case of a person with flat feet in which special orthotic inserts (store-bought or custom-designed) can be utilized, good nursing shoes should be equipped with an arch support on which the arch would rest comfortably. A lack of arch support reveals the formation of “dead space” between the sole of the nursing shoes and the arch of the feet. This causes a great deal of pressure on the arch, followed by pain and discomfort in walking, running and standing for long periods. It is something that is felt immediately and will nag you over time if it’s not corrected with the proper arch support.

For top arch support, we like the:

Sanita Women’s Professional Celina Clog Durability: good nurses’ shoes should be able to withstand the constant ups and downs of the medical setting, without ever putting nurses in an embarrassing situation. Durable shoes for nurses are usually made of heavy duty, premium quality materials. These include rubber and leather as the standards in nurses shoes. They should not be restrictive in a way that keeps you from performing your nursing duties. Staff on the floor are regularly shifting heavy equipment and assisting patients with movement from point A to point B. Not having the durability or strength to lift from the shoe through the lower half of your body to perform these actions could lead to serious injury.

Other nursing shoe material includes synthetic and vegan, but these aren’t as popular due to their penchant to become hot and sweaty over an eight hour day. Suede and canvas are both retro-style looks but are harder to keep clean and can be affected easily by spills and stains.

For top durability, we recommend the:

Alegria Women’s Debra Slip-On

Styles of Nurses Shoes to Choose From

As with the great variety in the brands of nursing shoes, many different styles exist. Although some people may utilize these styles interchangeably, each style is usually ideal for a specific working condition and it is important that users are aware of such issues. In addition, many institutions may regulate the use of a particular style of nurse shoes based on the employer’s policy, and so most users must bear this reality in mind before ordering nursing shoes. The main nurse shoe styles currently available on the market include the following:

Clogs: these are perhaps one of the most comfortable shoes for nurses. They are very spacious and prevent the buildup of pressure points on any given part of the feet. Not to mention, their width promotes optimum stability. Many clogs are designed with durable, slip resistant bottoms to prevent falls. These nurse shoes are ideal for users who prefer a loose fitting and breathable footwear. Good clogs should be very flexible and lightweight to promote ease of use over extended periods. Some of the best clogs are made from a combination of premium leather and durable synthetic materials such as polyurethane and polypropylene. They are designed for a perfect fit, without the need for laces. Read our picks for the top 3 nursing clogs in the market.

Our Top Clog Pick:

Crocs Women’s Mercy ClogMost clogs contain a closed back for both comfort and security, and the ones that only have a strap in the back can lead to a foot or heel slipping out the back of the shoe, causing an undesirable or painful situation. That’s why ankle straps are important to keep pushed down towards the heel and not tilted up towards the top of the clog. Some healthcare facilities do not allow open-back clogs as well as any that have holes on the top of the shoe. Some of the most common clog brands are Crocs, Alegria, AnyWear, Sanita, Dansko, Birkenstock, Timberland and Nurse Mates.

Slip-on: these are a great choice for nurses since they offer the freedom of not having to worry about laces. In fact, nursing shoes with laces run the risk of loosening during rush periods. This can be a big hindrance since nurses would have to stop to tie their laces. This also means that nurses will have to make direct contact with their shoes in an environment that is full of harmful agents. Then spend additional time rewashing their hands, keeping them from patient needs. Nurses using slip on shoes do not have to worry about laces causing them to topple over! Slip–on footwear (also called step-in shoe) is made of durable synthetic materials and/or leather and are great for the hospital setting.

Our Top Slip On Pick:

Timberland Professional Women’s Renova Slip-OnThese slip-on type shoes for nurses should not be confused with clogs because most have a closed back-end/heel, not open, and look more like a standard tennis or running shoe. For many, it’s the reassurance of having a full-foot shoe combined with the comfort and breath-ability of a clog style nursing shoe. The brands you’ve heard of the most in regards to slip-on’s include Crocs, Nurse Mates, Dickies, Skechers, and Timberland.

Sneakers: This type of nurse shoes provide great comfort and flexibility and can be worn all day long without any complaints. Sneakers are usually very well cushioned on the inside while protecting from hazardous conditions on the outside. These can best be remembered as ones that contain laces, which can be properly tied and tucked away to prevent any falls or loosening during motion. Great sneakers are also made of premium quality leather and synthetic materials. They are ideal for nurses on hectic shifts, such as in the Intensive Care Unit and the Emergency Department.

Our Top Sneaker Pick:

Skechers for Work Women’s Soft Stride-Softie Lace-UpThe most common brands of nursing sneakers you’ll find are Skechers, Dickies, Nurse Mates, K-Swiss, and Cherokee.

The Brands of Shoes for Nurses You’ll Want to Look For

Certain brands of nursing shoes are known for their quality throughout the years. They stand out among other brands because the value they provide is second to none. While there are a number of good ones on the market, there are certain trusted brands that people wear because of a long history of having no problems with their feet when they wear them. Most nurses purchase the following brands of nursing shoes:

Dansko: this brand has been around for quite a while, and has been providing a wide range of footwear for professionals. You can choose from a variety of colors, sizes, and styles, with many being labeled as the “professional” nursing shoe. This company boasts a 100% employee ownership, where everyone works to ensure that the quality of shoes produced is maintained.

Our alternate top Dansko choice:

Dansko Women’s Professional Box Leather ClogCrocs: this is perhaps one of the most famous brands currently available in the footwear industry. The products are extremely durable and are made from a very lightweight synthetic material. Practically all Crocs possess the slip-on mechanism, making them very suitable for nursing practice. Most clients attest to the fact that they have been using the same Crocs for years! These are commonly seen as the most affordable type of shoes for nurses, with many containing the open back you see in some clog variations. Read here for our picks for top 3 Crocs nursing shoes.

Our top Crocs choice: 

Crocs Unisex Specialist ClogAlegria: apart from being proud sponsors of the fight against breast cancer, Alegria is also a well-known manufacturer of top quality shoes for nurses. This brand is commonly known for producing great clogs that are very comfortable. They are fashionable and give off a sense of personality with vibrant colors and patterns. This is a marked difference in the classic all white nursing shoes many of us are familiar with. The soles of the shoes manufactured by this brand are reinforced with durable materials and the shape of the same promotes an upright posture with less fatigue on the body after long hours of use. Read more about Alegria and our picks for the best Alegria nursing shoes.

Our top Alegria choice:

Alegria Women’s Paloma FlatNurse Mates: with the actual focus of nurses in mind, this brand has dedicated most of its resources to crafting excellent shoes for nurses. The main types of nurses’ shoes currently offered by these manufacturers are quarks, slip–on, lace–ups, classic and open–back, practically covering the wide spectrum of the best shoes for nurses that are made today. Nurse Mates boasts nearly half a century of quality service. All shoes offered are made from a combination of full-grain leathers, slip-resistant bottoms and special cushioning technology. These features ensure that nurses work in full comfort and with less distractions and concerns.

Our top Nurse Mates choice:

NURSE MATES Women’s Dove AwarenessSkechers: these are your hard-hat, lunch pail nursing shoes that offer top comfort in a brand name and style that you’re familiar with. They come in a wide variety of types, including slip-on, laces or no-laces sneakers, and clogs. It’s the classic Skechers that have won you over throughout time and one that you can rely on for durability and fit. The lightweight synthetic material adds comfort and all Skechers employ a supportive rubber sole and cushioned comfort insole.

Our top Skechers choice:

Skechers for Work Women’s Clog

Other Nurse Shoes Tips and Personal Experience

As a registered nurse, after suffering the embarrassment of a fall on the surgical ward, I thought it was time to really focus on the shoes that I used on my shifts. I started out using regular footwear, since it coincided with our hospital’s attire policy. I never realized how important it was to invest in a good pair of nursing shoes until the occurrence of that horrible incident. The cause of my fall was due to a spill in the corridor and to the fact that my shoes never carried a slip-resistant feature. The actual materials used to manufacture the shoes were of very poor quality.

Following the incident and with good advice from my colleagues, I decided to order a pair of classic Nurse Mates. Since then all my headaches and worries about work shoes and the work environment have reduced. I feel more secure than ever and never give my feet a second thought. Whether the corridors are wet or not, my pair of Nurse Mates work just fine. Not to mention, the leather used to make these nurse shoes were of excellent quality. My job as an RN is much more comfortable with Nurse Mates now.

nurse wearing shoesIf you’re still on the fence on what kind of nursing shoe to buy, one of your biggest assets is knowing you can return a shoe online without penalty. What I’ve found is trying a number of different brands and experimenting with different styles lead me to the Nurse Mates I wear today. If you know you’re only comfortable in lace-free slip-on’s, they don’t venture into rubber clogs that have no backs. While the “look” of the shoe might be attractive, it’s not worth the painful hours on your feet day after day.

What it ultimately comes down to is the shoe that fits your feet the best based on the characteristics I listed above. Fortunately you’ll also have the opportunity to scan through a number of shoes for nurses that we feel are truly the best options on the market, based on reviews, feedback, and personal experience from people who have wore them.

If you’re still battling foot problems from a bad pair of nursing shoes, here’s what you can do until you find a pair that is better for your feet. Invest in a foot spa for under $30 and soak your feet to increase circulation and relieve tight muscles. You’ll receive just the right pressure on your feet to get you back to normal in no time.

The second option is to have your partner or a professional massage your feet to work the kinks out and get the blood following and reduce the pain. This works wonder if you’re not ticklish.

For most of us, we make a living on your feet, so these valuable assets should be protected with the best shoes for nurses that money can buy. There are a lot of variables that will make it’s way into the decision-making process and now it’s up to you to discover the absolutely perfect nursing shoe for your next long shift. Good luck on your journey and be sure to report back in to the rest of us on your choice.

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