Essential workers in the healthcare sector often face relentless, full-day shifts that keep the country’s most vulnerable safe. But you may still be surprised by the number of miles you manage to clock up in these marathon days. From trekking around wards, to running back and forth throughout care homes, it's important to wear supportive footwear to protect your feet.
In this article, we're here to help you select the best shoes for healthcare workers in the UK, whether that's a pair of nursing trainers or specialist Crocs. For our top 10 ranking, we’ll be prioritising comfort, support and alleviating stress, so say goodbye to achy arches, joint pain and swollen ankles!
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Before we dive straight into our recommendations, it’s crucial that you identify what shoes will work best for you and your situation. After all, there are many different roles in the healthcare sector and different shoes will be better suited to different working environments.
The first thing to consider is the different styles of shoes available. Now, we know the world of footwear can be vast, but in the case of comfort and support, we’ve rattled it down to three main styles that healthcare workers should consider – runners, Crocs (clogs) and canvas shoes. Here, we’ll look at each individually.
Runners are popular within the healthcare community because, as you’d imagine, these are designed for vigorous exercise. They generally have excellent cushioning, shock absorption and grippy soles so that those wearing them will be stable and comfortable.
Furthermore, they provide plenty of support in the heels and ankles, without restricting mobility. Therefore, if you find that you’re often twisting, turning and scuttling around all day, they’re an excellent choice. Not only that, but they’re usually pretty lightweight, and believe us, you’ll notice the difference after a 14 hour shift!
Clogs and crocs are extremely popular in many industries that require people to be on their feet for long periods of time, such as hospitality and healthcare. That's because they offer plenty of support and feature an injected foam midsole (more on this later), making them feel like you’re walking on marshmallows.
By far their biggest advantage is the wide toe box. If you’re not aware, walking or standing on your feet all day can cause your feet to swell, which can make even the most comfortable of trainers feel tight. Thanks to the design of these shoes, they have large toe boxes to accommodate swollen digits.
Another benefit is that these shoes are made from splash-proof or waterproof materials. There are even specialist crocs and clogs designed for nurses and medical staff. That said, these are probably better suited to those working in hospitals rather than care homes, as you may be required to go on adventurous excursions with your service users.
Canvas shoes might not be the most popular, but they’re a good alternative for healthcare workers who primarily do desk work, or are only on their feet for part of the day. If they are chosen well, these shoes can have very supportive midsoles, as well as flat yet grippy soles.
These shoes can also look a bit more professional. So if you’re in a role that sees you talk to the higher-ups from time to time, they can be helpful to have around - even if you don’t wear them every day!
Once you’ve got an idea of your walking habits, you’ll want to look for shoes to accommodate this. If you’ve got a low arch or overpronation, choose stabilising shoes that accommodate this. They’ll have extra support and a slightly higher arched sole to provide stability.
For everyone else, you'll want to opt for neutral shoes. These will still have cushioning, just not as much, which is important because too much padding can result in overuse injuries, such as stress fractures and plantar fasciitis. As you’d expect, more people require neutral shoes, so they’re often the most common style available to buy.
Next, you’ll want to consider the outer materials. Synthetic materials are usually found on runners as they’re breathable and flexible, which means they can move with your feet throughout the day. Plus, they should be somewhat water-repellent, which can be handy in many sectors of the healthcare industry.
Resins are usually injected with a type of foam to make them feel super comfy and to provide excellent shock absorption. These shock-absorbing capabilities protect the feet and joints from the impact of walking on hard floors all day.
Canvas shoes are simple, clean and are often the cheapest option. They will require little maintenance, but can be thrown in the washing machine should an accident occur. However, they’re not the most supportive and have little water or fluid protection.
As the name suggests, the midsole is located between the upper and the outsole. This is the area of the shoe where the cushioning is, so it’s not over-exaggerating to state that this is the star player when it comes to finding a comfortable shoe.
Most companies use plastic, their own branded foam (such as DNA Loft for Brooks), EVA, polyurethane or other similar materials for the insole. They all essentially do the same thing, so it's more about finding one that suits your feet, rather than one being better than the other.
Practically all runners will have a midsole, and although crocs or clogs don’t technically have them, they’re injected with foam which works in a similar way. Canvas shoes will also have a midsole, but they are far thinner and offer less cushioning. While some people like to feel the ground beneath their feet, if you’re planning on walking or standing all day, a good midsole is essential!
Lastly, you’ll want to consider the outsole. This part of the shoe should be grippy enough to ensure that you’re stable on your feet all day, especially if you’re in a situation where liquids or chemicals can be spilled.
Without a doubt, the most popular outsole material is rubber. That's because it's long-lasting, waterproof, slip-resistant and surprisingly breathable. Plastic and synthetic soles don’t quite have the same slip resistance, but they are much more lightweight, which makes lugging them around for the whole day that little bit easier.
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We've chosen the Brooks Ghost 13 runners for our no.1 spot. One of the brand's most popular footwear lines, these shoes are made from a breathable material that ensures quality airflow. Their cushioned midsole provides support, whilst the gum rubber soles make certain that you won't be sliding all over the place anytime soon!
They're also pretty darn lightweight, which we're sure you'll appreciate. For those spending their entire shift on their feet, it's safe to say that you can trust these shoes to give you the best chance of making it through.
The Dansko Professional Mules are some of the most popular clogs among nurses. Before we tell you more, it's worth mentioning that the upper is leather. This brings a certain level of protection, durability and a long-lasting quality to the shoe, that many others do not have.
The shoes themselves have a roomy toe box, which is perfect for those who are on their feet all day, and the midsole has a protective rocker built-in to provide better arch support. They also look smarter than synthetic clogs, which can be important to those who want to project a professional image.
If you're looking for something that's easy to slide your feet into, then you can do a lot worse than UGGS. While these might not be what the brand is best known for, they still manage to offer the company's classic comfort thanks to the components and materials used.
The upper is made from knitted canvas that's both breathable and stretchy, while the midsole is cushioned using that much coveted EVA foam. For the outsole, a trusty rubber provides good grip. They don't look too shabby either, making them ideal for running the floor in the morning, and the office in the afternoon.
Under Armour have steadily grown their brand over the past decade or so, thanks to their top quality sporting and leisure goods at very competitive prices. In fact, the Charged Bandit 4's are half the price of many runners and, coincidentally, almost half the weight too!
Despite the price, they still have many desirable features. We particularly like that they have foam midsoles that sculpt themselves to the shape of your feet, and a two-tone mesh upper that's designed to maintain proper ventilation throughout.
Here we have the specialist version of the classic Crocs clog. A cursory glance at the specs reveals that all of the materials used are the same, so you may be wondering what the difference is? Well, for starters, there are no holes on the top, which means there's better protection against spills and fallen sharps.
They're also constructed to be thicker than standard at the toe and metatarsal areas, with increased arch support. That said, we'd still class them as neutral, rather than stabilising shoes.
Although they might not look like much, the Keds Champion Originals are far comfier than many other canvas shoes. While they don't state the midsole material, many have found that the cushioning in there is streets above anything provided by their competitors.
Moreover, we like the slip-on design, which can be particularly handy if you're popping in and out of different homes or care facilities and are required to change your shoes multiples times a day. Just don't expect them to last as long as the other styles available.
Before diving into anything else, we have to mention the materials. The synthetic upper that moulds around your feet might sound restricting, but in reality, it makes the shoe more supportive. Plus, there's a silky fabric on the inside to protect the heel from rubbing, so you'll never have to worry about blisters again!
They also feature super bouncy Flytefoam midsoles, and a surprisingly lightweight construction, especially considering all the tech that's inside. The spacious design may require an extra pair of socks, but for wider feet these are ideal!
With over 5,000 reviews and an average rating of 4.7 on Amazon, it's safe to say that Crocs punch way above their modest price range. Better yet, the Croslite foam midsole adapts to your feet over time, so they're only going to become comfier after you've been wearing them for a while.
They come in a wide variety of colours and patterns, so there's something to suit everyone. In fact, the only reason they're this low in the ranking is that the company make even better versions, that are arguably more suitable for healthcare workers.
Running and athletics might have been the primary objective of the Revolution 5's, but we think they'd do just as good a job helping workers run around care homes or nursing wards. They're designed to have a supportive low top shape, which enables greater mobility around the ankle. Plus, the upper synthetic is super breathable to keep feet cool, dry and comfortable while working.
Nike is a giant in their field, and there's no doubt that they have a type of shoe for every occasion. However, it's worth noting the sizing runs a bit small, so you may want to opt for a half or full size bigger than usual.
Getting the ball rolling, we have these excellent treads from Brooks! These are ideal for those who have medium to high arched feet, as well as anyone who is prone to walking with overpronation. Inside, the shoe has a guided "rollbar" which pushes the wearer back into a natural walking style.
Furthermore, the shoes have adjustable eyelets on the back which alter the heel position should you wish to customise the shoes that bit more. However, they're known to be on the narrow side, so may not be great for those with wider feet.
Working in healthcare often means spending long hours on your feet, which is why it's important to find the time to take care of your tootsies when you finally get a chance to put them up. We've found some of the best heel balms and foot masks to banish blisters and keep callouses at bay, as well as at home foot massagers for that much needed relief!
Hopefully, this article has given you a good indication of what to look for when choosing the right shoes for work. With a little knowledge about your individual walking style and the shape of your feet, you should easily be able to find the perfect shoes to keep you comfortable all day!
Author: Lewis Clark
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