Feet are killing you? Heel pain got you stopped in your tracks? Something’s gotta give,right? Is it me or my shoes?
Standing 12 or more hours is no joke and you need the right shoes to support you all day. Also, you’re working in a pretty messy environment, so how can you keep your feet looking good while being supported? I’m here to help!
12 Years in the footwear industry has taught me a lot about the ways shoes are made comfortable and fit for purpose and what shoes are not.
Be very honest with yourself. Are you wearing shoes that are comfortable? Are they really comfortable? Or did you pay so much money you’ve convinced yourself they are? You shouldn’t have to convince yourself something is comfortable because a good marketing campaign says it should be.
Some buzzwords that come to mind are cushion, support, and stability. I’ve got news for you, the most essential comfort feature of a shoe is what you find inside. It’s called the insole, in most shoes they are removable. Take your current pair of sneakers, yeah go get one, and pull out the insole. What did you find? Probably something very thin, floppy and flat. The thinner that piece of the shoe the less you have for comfort. The Good News: there are insoles that are much more supportive and made from high-quality foams that do not break down over time.
Fun Fact: Stay away from memory foam. It might feel good when you put your shoes on initially but over time the pressure you put on this foam compresses and flattens completely. There is no rebound in this material when you have been standing on it for long periods of time.
Many shoes on the market are NOT meant for standing on tile floor for 12+ hours. The foams they are made from are meant to wear out quickly. We recommend you purchase new shoes every 6 months to refresh your comfort.
Too much support can actually be a bad thing. Too much support can weaken your foot and can cause plantar fasciitis over time. While it may feel good at the moment, if you give your foot too much of a crutch it will isolate your foot muscles.
One example are clogs. Maybe you wear them, maybe you’ve tried them on, maybe you’re curious about them. These heavy, clunky, eye sores have a lot of arch support. I urge you NOT to wear these. You may get short-term relief, this will cause you more pain down the line, not to mention a sprained ankle. There is a balance and as a nurse, you are in a unique position to strengthen your feet and help avoid chronic foot conditions by choosing supportive, but non-isolating shoes.
3. Ease of cleaning
Maybe you have seen shoes out there that promote being able to “wipe clean” with a sani-cloth, This seems like a great feature right? Think again. When you are putting that shoe on your foot that doesn’t let liquid in, you can guarantee that it is not letting any moisture out either. The result…sweaty feet! Sweaty feet=blisters and bacteria. It’s basically like putting plastic bags on your feet.
Unless this shoe is very intentionally designed, it’s really hard to engineer the shoe to be fluid resistant and breathable at the same time. The only industry that does this reasonably well is hiking shoes. Now you aren’t about to wear hiking boots to work, so I recommend you forgo this wipe clean feature and look for something mesh and breathable.
Most mesh sneakers you can machine wash. You can spray them with spot cleaner, wash them in cold water on the gentle cycle and air dry, just do not put them in the dryer. I repeat, do not put them in the dryer.
Footwear is an important tool for you to do your job and feel less fatigued after a long shift.
There's a lot to think about when choosing the right shoes. We will spend time in future articles on breaking down footwear industry misconceptions and how you make make great decisions with your footwear.
We've been working with the community of nurses to understand the true functions, needs and wants in your shoes. We are working with the top experts in the footwear industry to execute what YOU want. We cannot do this without you, so please reach out with any questions you have.
Always question comfort. I encourage your comments below and we can figure this out together.