Nurses spend their days running around the halls of hospitals. With barely a moment to sit down, they need comfortable shoes.
And as nurses, they know a thing or two about what kind of shoes you need for your health and comfort. The problem? Finding them. The market is flooded with great options and terrible options, pretending to be great.
We shopped around and looked in-depth at the shoes that nurses are talking about. If you’re in a rush and want answers now, here are the best shoes for nurses in 2020:
Our 10 best picks of shoes nurses wear, include:
- CROC Classic Clog
- ASICS Gel-Challenger 12
- Adidas Ultraboost 20
- Dansko Paisley Sneakers
- Brooks Levitate 2
- Prince T22 Tennis Shoe
- HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 6 B07L5MYV31
- Dansko XP 2.0 Clogs
- New Balance Arishi V2 Running Shoes
- Alegria Debra Professional
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMFORTABLE SHOES FOR NURSES?
This is the question you’re here to answer, and there are tons of options to choose from.
But to simplify it, here’s what you should look for:
- Arch support.
- Easy to clean.
If the shoes have all of the above, and you like them, then they’re the most comfortable.
Padding is necessary to prevent foot pain and other issues. It’s also there to make sure you stay comfortable throughout the working day, which can be extremely long for nurses.
Any gel or EVA foam midsole should be sufficient cushioning for you. These can also mold to the shape of your foot over time.
However, memory foam cushioning makes your shoes feel like new every time you wear them. There’s also no break-in period for memory foam shoes, which may be desirable for busy nurses and other healthcare workers.
There are other unique forms of padding too. Take a look at this explaining Croslite, the material Crocs use.
The three types of foot arches are:
- Flat feet/low arches.
Everyone is different, and how much support you need depends on your foot type.
If you’re unsure which type you fall into, try the wet foot test.
What You Need
- Piece of paper/paper towel.
- Bowl of water.
What You Do
- Dip your foot into the bowl of water.
- Now, step on the piece of paper.
- Remove your foot.
- Repeat with your other foot.
- Study the footprints.
If You Have:
- High arches: There will be very little print visible in the middle part of your foot.
- Normal/medium arches: Half of the middle section should appear.
- Flat feet/low arches: You will see a complete print of your foot.
To give you a visual guide,
All the best footwear has at least some arch support, even if unmentioned. Some shoes will have arch support that’s better for medium and high arches, but none for low arches/flat feet.
If you find you lack the arch support you need, perhaps you should invest in a pair of insoles. You can read more in our article about the best shoe inserts for standing all day.
Many of the best shoes for nurses we’ll be reviewing have removable footbeds to accommodate different insoles or custom orthotics.
Hospitals have shiny floors and often, lots of spills. You need shoes to keep your fitting stable.
Rubber is best for this, but synthetic soles will work, too.
Check the outsole for the following:
- A busy/varied tread pattern.
- Decent thickness, to separate you from the ground.
- A tapered shape.
These three elements create traction, a buffer between you and a hard surface, and flexibility. Those are vital parts of the best shoes for nurses and shoes for life in general.
If they’re slip-resistant, it’s an added bonus.
Bacteria in sweat creates odor. That’s what makes your shoes start to smell unpleasant over time. To combat this issue, your feet should be able to breathe and regulate their temperature inside your shoes.
Some insoles feature merino wool, which helps with this. Merino wool socks can do the same. But as well as this, your shoes should be doing some of the work. They need ventilation.
The ventilation doesn’t have to be as extreme as it is in Crocs, for example, but a certain amount is vital. In leather shoes, look closely for tiny holes that allow airflow. Also, look for mesh parts of leather shoes.
Some shoes will be almost entirely mesh, which is ideal. Mesh allows your feet to stay cool and allows any sweat to evaporate quickly.
You don’t want bulky footwear in general. It’s uncomfortable and can weigh you down.
For nurses, wearing light shoes is even more essential. You have to move fast to get patients seen quickly and in case of emergencies.
Lighter shoes not only keep your feet comfortable when you’re standing all day, but they can enhance your productivity. Unsuitable, heavy shoes mean your performance takes a hit.
If you’re looking for lightweight footwear, look into shoes with mesh. Besides this material, thin but durable leather is also a great option for a light feel.
Avoid anything too bulky or enclosed, even if it’s light. The discomfort can start to wear on you after a few hours.
EASY TO CLEAN
Hospitals can get messy, so shoes that are easy to clean are a great help. Something you can wipe down easily or throw in the washer is best.
Non-marking shoes are also useful. They shouldn’t require much maintenance at all.
Some shoes aren’t as easy to clean and require specialized removal of stains. You can read more about that on our shoe care and tips page.
Reviews of the 10 Best Shoes for Nurses
Crocs are a classic. They first came out in 2002 by a company of the same name and have since become a topic of controversy. There’s a distinct divide over public opinion and this type of footwear. Some dislike them, giving reference to their appearance as clown shoes, others are “Crocaholics” and wouldn’t live without them.
Many nurses wear Crocs. Crocs even helped donate over 240,000 pairs to healthcare workers. It’s not surprising that nurses love these shoes because they possess some great features that work well with the job.
Crocs are light for fast movement, which won’t weigh your feet down. It also features a strap you can move across the back of your heel to hold them on. So unlike many slip-on shoes, they won’t fly off when you have to move swiftly.
A wide toe box gives plenty of wiggle room for your feet even if they swell from standing on them all day. The textured soles are thick and provide plenty of tread for gripping onto those ward floors.
The material is a closed resin made of polymer. The resin is called Croslite, and it’s actually made of crude oil and holds some unique properties as far as shoes go.
The shoes are also breathable. This means any sweating your movement causes can be dealt with instantly. They’re also full of ventilation holes, so any liquid and debris can escape.
They’re comfortable, convenient, unisex and available in every shade imaginable, so you could pick a color to suit your personality. Although, for work, plain black or white is probably for the best.
Sizes run from 4 to 19 for women and 2 to 17 in the men’s model.
- Easy to clean.
- Simple to get on and off.
- Heel strap to hold them on.
- Sizing sometimes runs too large.
ASICS is a Japanese company that’s been active since 1949. They entered the American market almost three decades later. Their footwear ranges are now firm favorites with many across the world.
ASICS Gel-Challenger 12 shoes are available for both men and women.
They’re simple tennis shoes, designed for a sport that requires a lot of lateral movement. This gives you an advantage when it comes to support. When you have to make quick turns in the hospital, you won’t accidentally roll your ankle.
Even more support comes from the midsole, which includes enhanced cushioning. That not only keeps you supported, but it ensures comfort. In the rear and forefoot, the cushioning system is made from gel, hence the shoe’s name. This gel absorbs shock, alleviating pressure on your feet.
If this support isn’t enough for you, you can remove the sockliner for custom insoles.
Your feet also get to breathe with the mesh in the uppers. That, paired with the herringbone tread pattern, lets you stay confident on your feet when moving quickly. No sliding or tripping, inside or outside of the shoe.
The sizes range from 5 to 12 in ladies and 6 to 15 for men. Half sizes are also available.
- Rubber outsole.
- Trusstic System Technology offers stability.
- Gel cushioning system attenuates shock.
- Shoes are narrow, so may not suit those with wide feet.
Adidas was founded in 1949 in Germany and focuses on athleticwear. Adidas makes everything from shoes to tracksuits and has become a well-known and sought after brand name for many.
The Adidas Ultraboost running shoe ranges in various muted shades, making them perfect for work. It’s another pair where there’s a version available for men and women in a collection of similar colors.
These hues include black, grey, linen, white and chalk white and sizes run from 5 to 11.5 in a regular fit.
The upper is made of a mesh knit textile, which allows your feet to breathe, keeping them cool when standing and moving around. The heel counter is made of a harder material, giving you support in this often-painful spot.
The soles are rubber, which provides great support and traction. It’s thicker towards the heel, offering extra cushioning. This could be useful for nurses with conditions like plantar fasciitis.
Running shoes have a thicker heel because that’s the part of your foot that strikes the ground first, and hardest. And, as someone constantly walking throughout the day, your heel will take a lot.
Finally, the thick heel but thin toe area allows this shoe to be sturdy and flexible where you need it. Perfect for making sure your gait stays healthy as you go about your duties.
If you would like to know more about this sneaker, we’ve put together an in-depth comparison between the Adidas Ultraboost vs Pure Boost models.
- Breathable mesh upper.
- Comfortable and supportive.
- Excellent color options.
- True to size.
- More room in the toe box would be an improvement.
Dansko is a company centered around comfortable footwear. A husband and wife created it in 1990. The brand is most well-known for making clogs, and makes an array of other shoes from casual to formal.
These Paisley sneakers are only available for women. They run in sizes from 5.5 to 13, with regular and wide fit options. There is also a variety of dark, muted colors to choose from.
Made from leather, the uppers are waterproof, which is great for slips and spills that may occur in hospitals.
Also, on the topic of moisture, the shoes have DuPont Sorona fiber inside for moisture management. The shoes aren’t the most breathable, so this helps prevent sweaty feet.
There’s also CleansportNXT for odor control, which is vital in shoes that manage and wick away moisture.
The removable triple-density EVA footbed offers arch support. Once the footbed is removed, the shoes accommodate most custom and standard orthotics you might be inclined to use.
Made of rubber, the Vibram soles aid in shock absorption and support. They possess a rubber outsole for increased traction and stability on any surface.
- Odor control.
- Moisture management.
- Removable footbed.
- American Podiatric Medical Assoc (APMA) approved.
- Breathability could be better.
Brooks Sports or Brooks Running is a company focused on athletic shoes for men and women. They also make clothes and accessories. This American-based company formed in 1914 in the United States, and since 2001, running is their main focus.
Brooks Levitate 2 is one of the best shoes for nurses, and there’s a version for both genders. Sizes start from 5 to 12 in women’s, and half sizes are also available.
There are plenty of color options, from very bright to plain. The brighter versions might make excellent gym shoes, while you utilize the latter for work. Some suitable color suggestions include black, grey, fig and white.
These shoes are medium-width with arch support for medium-high arches. Although unlike a typical running shoe, the soles are the same thickness from the heel to right before the toe. The sole just beneath the toe box is thinner for more flexibility.
These shoes are also comfortable. The DNA AMP midsole technology provides cushioning with energy and pushes back against each step. The shoes are designed to make you feel active, which is a welcome boost on those 12-hour shifts that drain you.
The Fit Knit mesh uppers help your feet breathe as you walk around energetically. This technology also adds to the comfort aspect, plus, it’s highly adaptable to fit any foot shape.
Lastly, the heel counter isn’t mesh, but faux-suede, making it more robust than the rest of the shoe. Great for preventing plantar fasciitis and protecting you where you’re sensitive.
These shoes are recommended for long-distance walking, which works well for nurses on their feet all day.
The only downside to these shoes is that the material of the sole is not disclosed. For the sole-ambiguity, these shoes don’t hit the mark to be a five-star shoe, despite the overall quality.
- Neutral support.
- Extremely breathable.
- Adaptive fit.
- Energized feel.
- Durability is questionable.
Prince Sports, named after the founder’s alma mater (Princeton), founded in 1970, with a focus on sporting goods. They not only produce footwear and sports garments, but bags, rackets, stringing machines and more. They also happen to be one of the leading manufacturers of tennis rackets worldwide.
These shoes are another pair of tennis shoes, so you get that superior lateral support. They feature a wishbone shank to increase the safety and stability of your midfoot.
These shoes are only available in sizes 6 to 9, in half size increments. They’re also only available in one color. This restrictive coloring is the same for the men’s version of the shoe.
Luckily, this color rigidity is the only limitation the shoes have to offer. They feature a synthetic and mesh upper and sole, so they’re breathable and strong. The company states the PRC outsole promises unmatched durability, and the RASH toe cap also protects against abrasion.
The mesh of the uppers provides ventilation. Meanwhile, the Shock Eraser impact offers shock absorption, so your feet take little impact throughout the long hours of a nursing shift.
There isn’t much disclosed about the comfort level of these shoes. However, Prince did manufacture the first-ever “natural foot shape” tennis shoe.
- Great ventilation.
- Advanced shock absorption properties.
- Reinforced stability.
- Unmatched durability.
- They’re heavier compared to other tennis shoes.
- Unsuitable for wide feet.
Hoka is a very new company when it comes to sporting footwear. Launched in 2009, by sportsmen, for sportsmen, with running shoes as the priority. Hoka designs shoes made to make running easier for athletes, and anyone who wears running shoes.
The Clifton 6 features the classic sole of running shoes, thick at the heel and gradually thinner toward the toe. This design should motivate you to move faster as you walk, which may be helpful in an emergency within the hospital.
Its rubber sole is a meta-rocker bottom style with an aggressive tread pattern. This establishes great traction even on the most slippery of surfaces. The grooves and gaps go from hole-like depth to millimeters of separation, making it impossible for these shoes to slide.
The uppers are mesh and will help with breathability in the shoes. The mesh extends all the way around to the back of the heel, so there’s no harder guard for the area.
The running-ready shoes start from size 5 up to 12 with regular and wide fit options. They’re also available in 10 color options. Be aware that some of the subtle colors also include bright accents.
The men’s range of the Hoka One One Clifton shoe sports more bright colors than the women’s.
- Reliable arch support.
- EVA midsole for balanced cushioning.
- Rocker bottom shoe.
- American Podiatric Medical Assoc (APMA) accepted.
- Wide toe box may not be the best for narrow feet.
Dansko’s clogs are for women only and have a huge variety of colors and patterns for professional and personal use. Some of the dark models may even be suitable for work, as they’re very subdued.
These shoes run in sizes 4.5 to 13 and possess a patent leather upper. Don’t be fooled by the shiny, reflective nature of the shoe, this is a high-gloss coating. Not cheap plastic.
The rubber soles are slip-resistant to keep your footing stable. It’s even suitable for oily surfaces.
Moving on to the inside, the shoes have a lightweight EVA midsole and a padded instep collar. Both of these features combine together to make a very comfortable shoe that eliminates fatigue when walking. The midsole also has great shock absorption.
Furthermore, a dual-density footbed, ergonomically-designed, aids both comfort and support with a TPU arch stabilizer. It also has memory foam cushioning, which offers your feet some extra relief. This footbed is removable, so if you have custom orthotics, these clogs can accommodate them.
There’s also some extra room in the toe box without it being too large, adding to your comfort.
- Great arch support.
- Easy to clean.
- Rocker bottom style shoe.
- Memory foam insole cushioning.
- Removable footbed.
- Comfort decreases over time during the first wear.
- Break-in period may be longer than anticipated.
New Balance, also known as New Balance Athletics, is a major player in the world of sports footwear and clothing. It was founded back in 1906, giving the company plenty of experience with what works and what doesn’t.
These fresh foam Arishi running shoes have versions for both men and women. This pair comes in sizes 5 to 12 and has narrow and wide options available.
The mesh upper is synthetic and highly breathable. On the bottom, there’s a rubber outsole with the typical runner’s shape, for that motivational push you need and the extra buffer in the heel.
These shoes are designed to feel natural, so your shoes for nursing won’t be a distraction during your shifts. The fresh foam midsole is highly innovative and crafted out of one solid piece of foam for that plush feel but not overly so.
Arushi’s are also designed to be sophisticated in their variety of colors. There are 16 in total, with several black, navy, grey and white tones that make for the best shoes for nurses professionally.
Like other shoes, some of them feature brighter colors on the grey, black and white, so be careful if you’re color conscious.
The “dragon fruit” version would also be great in shoes for nurses. It’s close in color to crimson scrubs that are out there, if you want to match your shoes to the rest of your uniform.
Lastly, one thing to note about these shoes is the lack of heel support, and arch support doesn’t seem to be a priority. This is an unfortunate oversight that many mesh shoes seem to have.
- Innovative midsole for a natural feel.
- Removable insole.
- Mesh has been engineered specifically to suit the shoes.
- Lacks arch and heel support.
Alegria by PG Lite is an American company. They’ve spent over a decade manufacturing a range of classy but comfortable shoes. Their goal is to bring contemporary flair and elegance to the current and always-evolving world of fashion trends.
These Alegria shoes have a similar version (Alegra Bender) for men. They run in sizes 4 to 14 with some wide sizes available. There are also EU-translated sizing options for nurses outside of the US, making these some of the best shoes for nursing around the globe.
The Debra ranges from size 5.5 to 14. One thing to note about the shoes is that they run large. Consider going half a size down when purchasing.
The Alegria slip-ons are a clog rocker-bottom style with a closed heel. The uppers are made of unspecified leather and hand-stitched to a rubber sole, which is an inch thick. It creates a solid buffer between you and the ground.
Inside the shoe, the memory foam insole will contour to the shape of your feet, offering a comfortable platform to walk or stand on. The most notable thing about these shoes is their fine construction quality, the stain-resistant upper and the slip-resistant soles.
However, these shoes do have excellent arch support, relieving pressure buildup in your feet. So they’ll be comfortable to wear even on a busy all-day shift.
- Padded heel counter.
- Easy on/off with the elastic gore.
- Non-marking outsoles.
- Hand-stitched, high-quality construction.
- Stiff toe box.
- May feel too snug along the top of the foot for some.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Shoes Do Nurses Recommend?
Good news! Nurses recommend all the shoes you’ve read about. So if you’re looking for a gift for a nurse, why not pick some of the shoes in this article?
What Shoes Are Nurses Allowed to Wear?
Generally, nurses will be allowed to wear any casual shoes, professional clogs and sneakers. However, since you’re at work, plain colors are best. Consider shades like grey, black, white and navy. If you often work in messy areas, try to stick to darker colors.
However, it will depend on the facility. Some residential homes, or nurses who work with children, allow brighter shoes and funky patterns.
If you’re unsure about what your place of work allows, ask. Or if you’re shopping for shoes for a nurse, ask the nurse what the best shoes for nurses in their facility are allowed to look like.
Do Nurses Stand All Day?
Nurses often stand all day, or close to it. Many healthcare workers end up working 12-hour shifts and longer, constantly tending to patients and reporting to doctors and surgeons.
Luckily nurses aren’t usually standing in one spot all day, but are moving from place to place. Even so, it takes a toll on the feet. Anything less than the best shoes for nurses will have their feet throbbing by the end of the day.
For help with standing all day, consider a pair of compression socks. They help with blood flow and keep swelling to a minimum.
A Healthy Gait
With the amount of time they spend on their feet, nurses and other healthcare workers are basically athletes. That’s why they need athletic shoes to aid them during their 12-hour shifts and non-stop working days.
A nurses shoe needs everything a professional athlete does, give or take a few minor details. For example, a sportsperson would never wear crocs, but nurses don’t need something so enclosed and sports-ready.
If you’re shopping for yourself or a loved one in the profession, hopefully, this list of nurse-approved shoes for nurse, doctor and more has been helpful for you. Keep those feet as safe and cared for as healthcare workers keep patients.
We hope you enjoyed our review and we’d love to hear which pair of shoes you would choose. Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to share.