Nursing Shoes: What Every Nurse Needs to Know

According to The Permanente Journal, the average nurse working a 10-hour shift can walk nearly three-and-a-half miles a day. With this much constant movement, wearing comfortable and supportive nursing shoes is essential.

Here are some helpful hints for nurses that can ensure both optimal foot care and long-term health.

The Importance of Wearing Good Nursing Shoes

Since feet affect the rest of the body, wearing quality nursing shoes is imperative. Nursing shoes should:

  • Help maintain correct posture
  • Allow a natural range of motion for the foot
  • Prevent possible pain in the ankles, hips, knees and back
  • Prevent accidents and injury

Wearing suitable nursing shoes also improves critical aspects of a nurse’s job performance such as speed and endurance. Because nursing is a physically demanding profession, inadequate footwear may directly impact the quality of patient care.

Best Shoes for a New Nurse

When choosing a shoe, nurses should consider both the general qualities of the footwear and their individual needs.

General Qualities of Good Nursing Shoes

  • Should be durable, with solid treading on the bottom
  • Should protect the feet and socks from fluids and spills
  • Should be easy to clean and maintain
  • Should be lightweight
  • Should have support at the back

Personal Considerations

When evaluating their unique shoe requirements, nurses should assess the following:

  • Their personal biomechanics (see “Biomechanics and Arch Support”)
  • Their weight
  • Past or current injuries
  • The fit of the shoe and whether it is personally comfortable
  • How often they might need to buy new shoes. For nurses working a standard 40-hour week, shoes should be replaced twice a year, or every 500 miles of walking. However, heavier individuals or those with chronic pain or injuries may need to change their shoes more often.

Biomechanics and Arch Support

Many nurses’ arches are too low with feet that roll when they walk. Although easy to correct with footwear, nurses should take the time to investigate what type of arch support is right for them. “Motion control” shoes are best for nurses with arch issues, while “stability” shoes are best for nurses with arches of normal height. On rare occasions, nurses have high arches. Nurses with high arches should consider shoes designed with extra cushioning.

For nurses with conditions such as flat feet, severe bunions or legs of different lengths, specialized orthotics can help as well.

Shoe Options

Three shoe types are particularly popular in the field.

  • Tennis shoes or sneakers. The perfect combination of comfort and practicality, tennis shoes are stable, non-slip and fully protect the feet. Nurses who work in fast-paced settings such as the ICU and ER find them especially helpful.
  • Slip shoes or slippers. These are particularly useful in operating rooms, where nurses must make quick changes into sterile footwear. However, slippers should still have closed toes and backs, low heels and non-skid soles.
  • Clogs. Comfortable, easy to put on and durable, clogs protect the feet and meet all the requirements necessary for sufficient nursing footwear.

In understanding the nuances of quality shoe selection, nurses can ensure they are both comfortable and successful on the job.

Sources: Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses, Scrubs Magazine, Comforting Footwear, Livestrong

Step Forward in Your Nursing Career

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