nursing shoes

How to Choose the Best Nursing Shoes

This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission but it won’t cost you anything)!  

In today's healthcare environment, medical providers (nurses, surgeons and attending physicians) are carrying a heavier workload than ever before.  Longer shifts, larger patient workload and constantly being on your feet all day can take a toll on your body from doing the job day after day. 

One recent study showed that nurses walk an average of 4-5 miles per shift.  25 miles per week, 100 miles per month and  1200 miles per year.  All the miles quickly add up and can have a negative long term impact on your health if you are not taking care of yourself in the best way possible.

Wearing the wrong kind of nursing shoe can result in foot pain, leg pain and lower back pain.  In fact, a recent clinical study showed that 72% of nurses experience lower back pain.  Suffering from a chronic condition or injury is not only unpleasant or painful but can also lead to a shorter career if not addressed properly. 

This article will discuss how to choose the best nursing shoes and why its important. You need to stay healthy and strong throughout your shift and career!

Recommendations for the Best Nursing Shoes

You likely got here by looking for advice on how to pick the best nursing shoes but sometimes you just need a little more help to actually order some so you can start feeling better!  Here are a few recommendations of what we believe are the best of the best.  Our top 3 recommendations are from trusted brands that you may already know and love.

If you haven't heard of Nike, you may have been hiding under a rock for the last 60 years.  Nike is has a strong reputation for designing and building shoes that meet the incredibly strenuous demands of athletes in every sport imaginable in every country around the world.  It stands to reason that any shoe designed for athletes would also be a great match for the physicality of nursing and healthcare.

What is great about the Nike Air Max 2017 shoes is that they are so very comfortable.  This shoe was designed as a running shoe for athletes that put a lot of miles on their legs every day and every week. Again, very similar to the demands put on nurses who walk up to 5 miles per day on average, just during their shift!

Dansko brand clogs are a staple in hospitals around the world.  They are on our top 3 list for good reason.  First, they have a sturdy rubber sole with leather uppers.  They also have a padded instep collar for extra comfort when walking.  The toe box to allow toes to move comfortably with plenty of wiggle room. The lightweight EVA midsole reduces fatigue for everyday wear and provides stability and high shock absorption.  It also has a removable footbed and memory foam for cushioning.

These clogs are especially well suited for surgeons, circulating nurses, surgical technicians and others who spend a lot of time in the operating room at the hospital.  Because healthcare workers are standing in place for long periods of time, the clogs will help provide the best support for your arches, relieving pressure from on the heels and balls of your feet.

These shoes also help ensure you maintain proper posture, even while standing.  At first glance you may wnder way that matters but poor posture can lead to lower back pain and other chronic conditions or injuries. 

Finally, these ASICS Gel-Kayano 27 Lite-Show are some of the best shoes for people who spend a lot of time on their feet. Whether they are training, running half marathons or simply spending the evening walking around the neighborhood.  The point is that they are made to support you on your feet no matter what activity you are spending your time doing.

For additional recommendations of the best nursing shoes, please check out 10 Best Nursing Shoes for Women Buying Guide. 

nursing shoes

Types of Nursing Shoes

Before purchasing a pair of nursing shoes, its important to know the different types of shoes that are generally considered the best for the nursing or healthcare environment.  The three main types of nursing shoes are Athletic style, Clog Style and Slip-On Style.

Athletic Nursing Shoes

Athletic shoes will be very familiar to most people because they are the same types of shoes and brands that you may already be wearing to run, workout or cross-train in. There are several reasons that so many nurses wear this type of shoe. To start with, they are very comfortable, lightweight, compatible with a wide range of types of feet and they come in many different designs and colors.

Comfort is the number one factor that should be considered when purchasing the best nursing shoes for you.  Many athletic shoes place a heavy emphasis on how much cushion they put in both the heel and bal of the shoe footbed.  This helps to eliminate fatigue and avoid injuries. 

The weight of the shoe is also a critical factor that needs to be considered when buying new shoes.  There is no way to avoid the amount of time you spend standing or walking around the hospital but there is a way to reduce the impact your activity has on your feet and legs.  Purchase a shoe that gets good reviews for how light it is and both you and your feet will be very happy.

Athletic shoes are probably the most versatile when it comes to making sure you have the proper fit to your individual foot.  Some people have flat feet, some people have feet with low arches and others have feet with high arches.  Athletic shoe companies know this and make their running and cross training shoes in many different designs to make sure they have something for everyone.  If you aren't sure which type of feet you have, check out the Mayo Clinic's Guide to determine your foot arch type. This will help you make sure you purchase the best possible shoe.

Last but not least is the personality factor.  Consider a shoe that lets you express some of your unique personality.  In a hospital setting, you are most likely required to wear the same color scrubs as every other nurse and worker in your facility.  Having shoes unique to you, allow you to show your personality and can help you look a little different and set you apart from your colleagues.  Some athletic shoe companies even let you customize the colors of your shoes giving you the ultimate level of personality!

nursing shoes

Clog Nursing Shoes

Clog style shoes are another good option for nurses and other healthcare providers.  Using clogs in a healthcare environment is good for many reasons including helping to improve your posture to having a good grip.  

Improves posture 

Clogs are designed to place the arches and heel of your foot in the optimal position.  They cause you to rest the arch of your foot on the arch of the clog, thus avoiding undue pressure on the heels and balls of your feet.  This in turn helps you to stand upright (improving your posture) and at the same time reduce fatigue on your back, legs and feet.


Clog style shoes also are designed to have slip resistant outsoles.  If you spend any time at all in the operating room or patient care areas of the hospital, you know you need to be prepared for any liquids on the hard tile floors.  Even the slightest amount of condensation or liquid on the floor could cause you to slip and injure yourself.  Having the right grip on your shoes is key to saying safe and the best clogs will have slip resistant outsoles.


Another reason clog shoes are so popular is because they are easy to clean.  Many clogs have a special coating on the top of them to easily wipe them clean.  Again, if you work in the operating room as a circulating nurse or surgical technician, you know that having a shoe that you can easily clean is important.  Many healthcare providers (especially those who work in the operating room) have a dedicated pair of shoes that stay at work but that doesn't mean you want to be carrying around contaminants or bodily fluids on your shoes.  Get some easy to clean clogs for peace of mind.

Slip-On Nursing Shoes

If you aren't sold on athletic style or clog style shoes, you may want to consider slip on nursing shoes.  Slip on shoes generally are a solid option and give you options like the ability to replace the insole and they also come with many different style and materials options.  Here are a couple of more insights in to the benefits of a slip on shoe.

Insole flexibility

One of the benefits of wearing a slip on shoe is the ability to change out the insole of the shoe.  Using a special insole or custom orthotic comes with several benefits.  First, a custom orthotic can help to absorb the shock from walking, running or jumping.  Second, if you are already experiencing leg or foot pain, an orthotic can help reduce that pain.  Third, custom orthotics provide superior comfort because they are allowing you to stand, walk, and run comfortably.  Finally, using a custom insole can help you perform better.  Even if you are only walking or standing, being at your best can help you to avoid injury.

Custom orthortics can be shaped to your individual feet giving you the ultimate combination of support and comfort.  This is one of the best reasons you should consider buying a slip on shoe because of the ease of interchanging your insole.  Some orthotics can be purchased online and will naturally conform to the shape of your foot over time.


Buying a customized slip on shoe is another reason you may want to choose it for your nursing shoes.  Slip on shoes are not as prevalent in the workplace as athletic shoes and clog shoes.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing as this gives you an opportunity to set yourself apart from your peers.

Every nurse or healthcare provider brings a unique set of skills, motivations and personality to the job and that is one of the reason that makes the healthcare profession so great.  In a hospital setting, most everyone has to wear the same color scrubs so there aren't many options for you to express yourself with your dress.  You can however show your differences through your footwear and slip on shoes let you do that.

Comfortable slip on shoes come in a variety of different materials and colors.  For example, you may want to show your style with a pair of black leather slip ons.  For something softer or more feminine, maybe you prefer a rose color.  If you want to be stylish 'like the kids these days', you might choose a canvas material with a checkerboard or other funky design.  The possibilities are endless!

nursing shoes

Factors to Consider When Picking Nursing Shoes

There are multiple factors that you should consider when choosing your nursing shoes.  Taking careful consideration of these can help you to actively prevent injuries and enjoy a long and meaningful career in healthcare.  This list is not all inclusive but includes some of the most common and important factors.


As we have previously touched on, weight is a very important factor to consider when buying new nursing shoes.  Because you are on your feet for such long periods of time, the weight of your shoe, if too heavy, can cause great fatigue over the course of the days, weeks, months and years.  A lightweight shoe can greatly impact your ability to stay fresh, flexible and mobile throughout even your longest shifts.


Nobody ever said they wanted to buy a shoe that was uncomfortable, so it should go without saying that you want a nursing shoe that is comfortable on your feet.  Many shoes today have different types of cushion technology.  For example, Nike shoes have both 'Air' and 'Foam' technology to keep your feet cushioned.  Adidas has their Ultraboost technology which is another proprietary foam.  Asics uses 'Gel' technology to provide cushions for their designs.  No matter which shoe and cushion technology you choose, make sure it works best for your feet.


If you don't already know what arch type your feet are, be sure to check out this article from the Mayo Clinic.  Once you have determined which arch type your feet are, you will be in a better position to choose the best nursing shoes for your individual feet. Your arch also determines the biomechanical movement of your ankle, knee and leg. Choosing the right kind of shoe for your individual situation can affect the health of other parts of your body besides your feet.


If you are a nurse or physician working in a hospital environment, I strongly suggest you get a shoe that meets the other factors described previously but that is also slip resistant.  You want to have a shoe that provides proper grip on potentially slippery surfaces when they are wet.  You never know when you are going to have to help a patient on or near a wet surface. Having the proper grip on your shoes will help ensure that both you, your patients and colleagues all stay safe and avoid injuries.

nursing shoes

Why You Should Invest in Good Nursing Shoes

Everyone has to wear shoes and hopefully by now we have been able to help you think about the most important factors to consider when purchasing a nursing shoe.  Just because you need to purchase shoes, doesn't mean you need to buy the cheapest shoes you can find. An investment in choosing the right shoes for you will help prevent common injuries, provide comfort during and after your shift, improve your speed and flexibility and keep you safe on the job.


Every person with a job uses tools to improve their performance and being a nurse or healthcare provider is no different.  Nurses and other medical providers need to consider all the important factors described in this article to help them choose the shoes that will help them perform at their best.  You work hard but you deserve to work smart and having the right nursing shoes will help you spend your energy on caring for your patients.

Thank you for reading this article on How to Choose the Best Nursing Shoes.  Be sure to check out our other posts that help you find the best workwear and work gear!

Work Gear for All specializes in finding the best workwear, work gear and accessories for every situation so you can spend less time searching and more time finishing the job!  If you enjoyed reading The 10 Best Nursing Shoes for Women, please check out our other buying guides too!