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If your job requires you to stand on your feet all day long — whether you’re a nurse, teacher, paramedic, flight attendant, or construction worker — then you know how important it is to wear the most comfortable sneakers and shoes. Ignoring aches and pains can lead to long-term problems.
Board-certified podiatrist Dr. Patrick McEneaney, owner and CEO of Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists outside of Chicago, Illinois, can attest to this. His patients with the mildest cases come to him with “foot fatigue, or a generalized tiredness as the day goes on,” he says, but many have more severe complaints, like plantar fasciitis, which, in addition to arch pain, can lead to knee pain, swelling in the feet and legs, tendonitis and arthritis flare-ups.
Wearing the right pair of shoes can greatly alleviate or prevent pain in daily life. Whether someone is searching for the best shoes for nurses who are on their feet all day or the best shoes for standing all day on concrete, the right pair of shoes will depend on each person’s particular anatomy.
Dr. McEneaney explains, “The shape of the foot, your bodyweight, the amount of time you’re on your feet, how narrow or wide the front of your feet are or whether you have a high arch or low arch all play a role [in selecting the best shoe].”
Luckily, different shoes address different needs, and there are some general things to look for when shopping for the best shoes for standing all day.
Dr. McEneaney’s colleague at Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists, certified pedorthist Dr. Michael Fishkin, recommends searching for shoes that have proper heel cushioning as well as midfoot and arch support, noting that, “when body weight is distributed evenly, your foot is less apt to fatigue quicker.”
“Think about it like a mattress,” says Dr. Fishkin. “When you lay down, it contours to your entire body.”
And just like with a mattress, if an insole is too soft, you will probably benefit from more support.
“Soft and spongey [insoles] can make your foot work a little harder and create instability, so firmer can be better,” says Dr. McEneaney.
While every shoe’s midsole utilizes a different type of foam or cushioning, beware of memory foam, which doesn’t work for everyone. For many people it lacks the necessary support for all-day wear. In addition to looking for strong support, athletes who really work up a sweat during their day job will benefit from insoles that are moisture-wicking.
As far as the shoe’s outsole, Dr. Fishkin recommends rubber, as it offers more structure increases the longevity of pairs.
Speaking of longevity, both doctors advise switching out pairs every 300 to 500 miles, or six to nine months. Depending on how often you wear the same pairs of shoes, this can be a little tricky to account for, but an easier rule of thumb is to just do a visual check.
“Look for different wear patterns,” says Dr. McEneaney. “If the tread is breaking down or one spot in particular is wearing down, it may be time to get a new pair of shoes.”
Another tip for scoring the perfect fitting shoes for standing all day? If you can’t remember the last time you had your feet measured, then it might be time to do it again. Most people don’t realize that their foot size can change over a lifetime, and not just during childhood or puberty. Feet can become longer or wider as we age, as the tissue of the foot becomes less tight and causes the arches to sag. Other factors like weight gain and giving birth (hormones released during pregnancy can lead to relaxed ligaments) also play a part in feet expanding.
“In general, I run into this a lot, where people have always been a size 7 and continue to wear that size, even though people’s feet can change over time,” says Dr. McEneaney.
Plus, just like clothing, shoe sizes can differ by brand, so don’t be afraid to try different sizes to make sure foot pain isn’t originating from an ill-fitting pair of sneakers.
Dr. McEneaney and Dr. Fishkin cite athletic shoes from brands like Asics, Brooks, Saucony and New Balance as great entry points for finding the best shoes for standing all day.
Ahead, some of the best pairs to begin your search.
Crocs Unisex Classic Clog
Plenty of healthcare professionals will personally attest that Crocs Unisex Classic Clogs are the best shoes for nurses or doctors who are on their feet all day. The main pro about these love ‘em or hate ‘em shoes is their extreme size range. They’re available in a women’s size 4 to 19, or a men’s size 2 to 17. They also come in a rainbow spectrum of colors. They might not provide enough support for every foot, however, so be sure to test them out on a clean surface so you can return them if they’re not the right fit.
Nike Revolution 5 Running Shoe
Nike Men’s Revolution 5 Running Shoe is designed with responsive cushioning and a mesh construction for proper air circulation. Reviewers say they fit like a glove right and offer firm-yet-not-too-firm support for plantar fasciitis (compared to plusher classic Nike models like the Tanjun). A lightweight midsole and textured outer wall ensure these won’t weigh you down as you go about your day.
Dr. Scholl’s Men’s Sync Oxford
There’s no need to sacrifice style for comfort with Dr. Scholl’s Men’s Sync Oxfords. Some of the best shoes for standing all day, they’re perfect for professionals like teachers who are after a bit more polish in their daily uniform. These provide extra support in three key areas: under the toe, the ball of the foot and the heel. They’re also available in wider widths so bigger feet can have enough breathing room. The best part is they don’t look at all “orthopedic.” In reviews, men call these some of the best dress shoes for standing all day. And to top it all off, the pair is currently on sale for $50 at Amazon.
Adidas Women’s Cloudfoam Pure Running Shoe
The memory sockliner in Adidas’ Cloudfoam Pure Running Shoes molds to your foot and makes the sneakers ultra-lightweight. The midsole has extra cushioning for all-day support. The shoe is a slip-on style, so it’s ultra-convenient to throw on and take off when needed. Crafted in breathable materials, it’s a versatile pick suited to a variety of work and leisure scenarios.
Carhartt Men’s Moc-Toe Work Boot
Carhartt’s Moc-Toe Work Boots are designed with cushioned sneaker-like midsoles and moisture-wicking linings treated to combat odor. Reviewers rave that they’re comfortable even when standing on unforgiving surfaces, calling them some of the best shoes for standing all day on concrete. Perfect for jobs in construction or landscaping, these are super durable but still more lightweight than a typical work boot. They’re also available in wide sizes.
Clarks Women’s Raisie Eletta Penny Loafer
For those who work in retail, or teachers who stand for hours, a classic, professional loafer doesn’t have to leave your feet aching by the end of the day. The Clarks Women’s Raisie Eletta Penny Loafer features an Ortholite footbed with firm cushioning that is comfortable without being too giving. Per reviews, they’re some of the best dress shoes for standing all day when a tennis shoe won’t meet the dress code. One reviewer even calls them the best shoes for standing all day on concrete. A roomy toe box prevents cramped digits on the job.
Brooks Ghost 13 Running Shoe
Brooks is known for its orthopedic prowess. The insole cushioning on Brooks’ Ghost 13 Running Shoes is soft but durable and firm enough to provide support. The shoe’s stretchy mesh upper is ultra-breathable and conforms to your foot. Its signature “crash pad” bottom absorbs the impact of every step.
Birkenstock Unisex Professional Birki Clog
Another ideal choice for working in a kitchen or hospital, Birkenstock’s Professional Birki Clog is made with a waterproof polyurethane shell that protects from all kinds of spills. The anatomically contoured footbed can be removed for easy cleaning, too. With safety of the utmost importance, these are non-slip, including grease- and oil-resistant to avoid accidents. One reviewer said their pair lasted for almost 20 years.
Skechers Women’s Go Walk Joy Walking Shoe
Skechers Women’s Go Walk Joy Walking Shoe comes in three width options: standard, narrow and wide. The soft, breathable mesh upper is specifically engineered to naturally expand with your foot as you walk. Other highlights include plush cushioning and excellent support. Reviewers have named these the best shoes for standing all day if you have heel pain, and mention they are comfortable despite ailments like bunions and arthritis.
Saucony Ride ISO 2
High-quality athletic sneakers are the best shoes for standing all day if you have bad knees or a bad back. Podiatrists recommend Saucony as one of the brands to try when looking for the most comfortable fit to alleviate pain. The Saucony Ride ISO 2 provides structure and support via a woven heel piece. The midsole offers continuous cushioning that molds slightly to your foot and helps distribute weight evenly.
New Balance Women’s Fresh Foam Roav V1 Running Shoe
The New Balance Women’s Fresh Foam Roav V1 are designed with extra durability in the areas that typically suffer the most wear and tear. The cushioned foam midsole makes for comfortable strides all day long. The heel provides a close fit to keep your feet secure in neutral alignment. These are so popular, they’re earning five-star reviews from nurses.
Naturalizer Women’s Flexy Ballet Flat
Most women know that flats can actually end up being just as painful as heels due to a lack of arch and heel support. The Naturalizer Flexy Ballet Flat, however, is one of the best ladies’ work shoes for standing all day thanks to its molded arch support and a unique heel cup to keep your foot securely in place. A padded heel collar also makes these more comfortable than your average flat. These comes in wide-width sizes and plenty of colors.
Sorel Women’s Emelie Chelsea Waterproof Ankle Boots
Featuring a seam-sealed waterproof construction, you can count on Sorel’s Emelie Ankle Boots to keep your feet protected in inclement weather. Some of the best memory foam shoes for standing all day, they feature a removable memory footbed beneath a layer of microfleece for extra cushioning. The rubber outsole is super durable and provides grip no matter how slick the streets are. These are a great orthopedic alternative to the boots in your closet that aren’t as giving.
Keen Men’s Targhee III Waterproof Hiking Shoes
Keen Men’s Targhee III Waterproof Hiking Shoes will keep wet elements out while letting feet breathe. They cushion your stride courtesy of a dual density footbed. Another plus? A special treatment prevents odor buildup. To top things off, all-terrain rubber lugged outsoles guarantee a high-traction grip for ultimate stability.
Puma Women’s Carina Sneaker
More than a few reviewers praised Puma’s Carina Sneaker for lending cloud-like comfort and support. The casual athletic shoe features a slightly elevated platform sole for a subtle height boost and a SoftFoam+ sockliner for superior, long-lasting cushioning.
Blundstone Women’s 1351 Chelsea Boot
The Blundstone 1351 Chelsea Boot boasts anatomical cushioning and dual pull tabs for easy on and off. The style is designed to disperse shock at the heel strike and reduce stress on the feet, knees and vertebrae. It’s also equipped with steel shanks for added stability. It’s the perfect all-weather boot for comfort and protection.
LifeStride Women’s Suki Pump
When your job requires you to wear heels, take comfort (literally) in knowing there are some designed to support your feet as much as possible. LifeStride’s Suki Pump is made with an asymmetrical strap featuring elastic goring for extra flexibility. The shoe has a supportive footbed with soft cushioning and flexible soles. Unlike the average heel, this one is available in wide sizes.
Asics Gel-Venture 7 Running Shoes
Our podiatry experts agree that a supportive athletic shoe is a great place to start your search for the best shoes for standing all day for men or women. These Asics Men’s Gel-Venture 7 Running Shoes offer gel cushioning in the heel area for shock absorption and an ortholite sockliner that molds to the shape of your foot for overall comfort. The midsole increases rebound, lessening the impact of each stride on your body. While these make a great running shoe, the sweat-wicking, breathable materials also make them ideal for an active, on-the-go job.
Dr. Scholl’s Shoes Women’s Madison Sneaker
A perfect go-with-everything tennis shoe, Dr. Scholl’s Shoes Madison Fashion Sneaker also provides plenty of foot support. Anatomical cushioning in the footbed prioritizes comfort for retail and healthcare jobs that require lots of walking around. Extra padding around the mouth of the shoe ensures durability no matter how often you slip them on and off. The best-selling style comes in lots of neutral colors and finishes, so you’ll be tempted to grab more than just one pair.
Sticky Women’s Comfortable Work Shoes
Certain work environments have special wardrobe requirements. The best shoes for nurses or chefs on their feet all day are easy to clean, no matter what kind of mess they come into contact with, like these Sticky Women’s Comfortable Work Shoes. The shoe upper and outsole are waterproof, and even the shock-absorbing footbed is crafted in a material to keep the wearer dry. The clog style slips on, meaning you won’t have to worry about tripping over shoelaces, while a rubber outsole ensures top-notch traction.
Slow Man Unisex Walking Shoes
When it comes to the best non-slip shoes for standing all day, try a style with rubber tread, like Slow Man’s Walking Shoes for women. A slip-on shoe is perfect to stash by the door for impromptu errands or frequent dog walks, rather than those less-than-supportive flip flops you’re used to. Also an excellent pair of ladies’ work shoes for standing all day, they include plenty of arch support and a roomy toe box. The sock-style design is breathable and flexible.