Ask a Nurse: What Are the Best Nursing Shoes?

Gayle Morris, MSN
Updated February 10, 2023
    A nurse's choice in shoes can make or break a shift. When comfort is your goal, these may be the best nursing shoes.
    Featured ImageCredit: 4x6 / Getty Images

    In our Ask a Nurse series, experienced nurses provide an insider look at the nursing profession by answering your questions about nursing careers, degrees, and resources.

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    Question: What are the best nursing shoes (for comfort)?

    New nurses may focus on purchasing the best stethoscope they can afford, but they soon discover their time and money are better spent on finding the best nursing shoes.

    We talked with experienced nurses about what was important in a good nursing shoe. Most agreed it was comfort.

    What to Look for in a Nursing Shoe

    A nurse typically walks between four and five miles in a 12-hour shift. By comparison, the average American walks no more than three miles during an 18-hour day. This means, in addition to the five miles nurses are walking at work, they are likely walking even more after work.

    Unless you want to suffer from painful feet, you should purchase comfortable and supportive shoes. You should consider going even further for comfort by wearing memory foam insoles to help cushion the blow from miles of walking and protect your legs over a long day at work.

    Amelia Reiling was a certified nursing assistant and is now a long-term caregiver. She recommends your nursing shoes also have nonslip soles, arch supports, and waterproof tops.

    “I would stay away from cloth shoes or shoes that are not waterproof. Throughout the day, you can come in contact with various body fluids and the last thing you would want is soaked shoes!” she says.

    Leather shoes are easy to clean and offer a barrier against spilled fluids. Nancy Mitchell has been a senior care nurse with over 37 years of experience. She emphasizes the importance of buying shoes that are a good fit.

    “It’s vital that a nurse has their feet measured accurately before buying shoes for work, as this will help you find the perfect fit,” she says.

    After a long day, your feet are likely to swell. You want your shoes to be as comfortable at the end of the day as they were when you first put them on. This means they should be wide enough to accommodate your feet with enough room for your toes.

    Now that you know what to look for in the best nursing shoes, let’s discuss what to avoid.

    Shoes to Avoid

    The nurses we interviewed agreed that you should steer clear of shoes you wear only for aesthetics. They may look good on your feet, but by the end of the shift, blisters, pinched toes, and a lot of pain is not worth the “look.”

    • x-circleHeels or platforms: Nursing shoes with heels or platforms can increase your risk of rolling your ankle, and shoes with higher heels can place added strain on your legs.
    • x-circleNonflexible shoes: Shoes that aren’t flexible or ones that don’t have cushioning in the soles should also be avoided.
    • x-circleHeavy shoes: A heavy shoe can increase pain and fatigue at the end of your shift.
    • x-circleLoose-fitting shoes: While shoes should not be too tight, they should also not be too loose. A loose shoe moving around and rubbing against your foot can lead to blisters.

    The Best Nursing Shoes for Comfort

    Keeping in mind that everyone’s feet are different and not every shoe recommendation will fit every nurse’s feet, let’s take a look at the shoes that nurses suggest could be your best nursing shoe.

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    Skechers Work Relaxed Fit: Sure Track – Bernal SR

    These are Reiling’s favorite nursing shoes. “They have a memory foam insole that makes them super comfortable and helps reduce pain in my feet! These shoes are also nonslip-resistant and easy to clean,” she says.

    The clogs have a slip-on design with a lightweight shock-absorbing midsole and flexible rubber traction sole. The shoes have a rounded toe and smooth leather upper shoe. Although it is a clog, the shoe has a European-style closed-back design making it more stable on your feet.

    The instep and heel collar are padded to reduce friction and blisters. The sole meets or exceeds traction standards on slippery surfaces.

    Dansko Nursing Shoes and Clogs

    The brand is known for comfort and support for over 25 years. Nurses have a wide variety of styles and colors from which to choose and prices that start at $115. The slip-resistant soles have been tested on dry, wet, and oily surfaces.

    Most of the Dansko nursing clogs have a wide heel strike to increase stability, and all have the European-style closed-back design. The clogs have a roomy toe design to reduce friction and pinching.

    The shoes also have a rocker bottom design to help propel you forward and reduce fatigue throughout the day.

    Nike Free Run Shoes

    The Nike Free Run running shoe to a traditional nursing shoe. This running shoe is engineered to allow your foot free range of motion with minimal design and breathable upper material.

    This works well for the nurse who is on their feet all day but with little potential for exposure to fluids. The outer sole has flex grooves to allow your foot to move naturally.

    The shoe comes in cross-training and running designs. You’ll find a variety of colors and designs with the traditional Nike swoosh. Most also don’t have laces, which makes them easier to get on and off.

    The Nike Free Terra Vista Next Nature is made with 20% recycled material by weight. The Nike Free Run 2 comes in white for employers who want more traditional footwear for their nurses.

    Hoka One Bondi SR

    This is another running shoe with a reputation for protecting your feet and legs on concrete. Hoka One shoes come in black, white, and nearly every other color in between. Some have rocker bottoms; others have a flatter sole.

    The Bondi SR has a water-resistant leather upper and memory foam collar and a slip-resistant outer sole, offering enough support and cushion to protect your feet and legs over a 12-hour shift.

    Alegria Women’s Keli Professional

    The brand has been used by nurses for over 20 years. It was designed with comfort and style in mind. It is a slip-on clog with a European-style closed-back design. The outer sole is slip-resistant with a rocker bottom to reduce fatigue.

    The shoe has a memory foam removable and replaceable insole that is slip-resistant on the interior and squeak-free. Take care if you purchase online since the sizing often runs smaller and the toe box can be tight.

    The shoes come in many different colors and have been good for nurses who have plantar fasciitis from long hours on their feet.

    In Summary:

    • Comfortable, supportive shoes are essential to protect your feet and legs from fatigue and pain.
    • Look for shoes with waterproof uppers and slip-resistant soles, memory cushion insoles, and enough room for your toes.
    • Steer clear of shoes with heels, pointed toes, and tight or heavy shoes that can add to your pain and fatigue at the end of the day.
    • Keeping in mind that everyone’s feet are different, some of the best nursing shoes include the Skecher’s Relaxed Fit Sure Track – Bernal SR Clogs, Dansko Nursing Clogs, Nike Free Run shoes, Hoka One Bondi SR, and Alegria Women’s Keli Professional.

    Meet Our Contributors

    Portrait of Amelia Reiling

    Amelia Reiling

    Amelia Reiling is a dedicated long-term caregiver with two years of experience as a CNA. Currently, she is a social media assistant and video editor for Experience Care.

    Portrait of Nancy Mitchell, RN

    Nancy Mitchell, RN

    Nancy Mitchell is a registered nurse and contributing writer. She has over 37 years of experience in geriatric nursing care where she has worked as a senior care nurse and director of nursing care.


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