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13 of the best shoes for nurses

Find comfortable nursing shoes and recommendations from real nurses.

Nurses are hardworking healthcare professionals who need shoes that can stand up to long shifts on their feet. We analyze 13 brands ideal for breathability, support and durability to keep you comfortable and cool — from the moment you clock in to when it's time to kick back and relax.

1. New Balance 574

Float from patient to patient in these super lightweight sneaks from New Balance, which feature a perforated upper that lets your feet breathe.

My primary concerns are mobility and comfort — shoes that will let me move around easily and comfortably. Aesthetics are a present but secondary concern. The 574s are a good compromise in terms of weight and support. You can run in them when you need to, and as long as you don't get them in solid white or solid black, and you don't look like my dad when he mows the lawn.”

Zachary Harrison, Registered MSICU Nurse

2. Alegria Classic

The Alegria Classic has a curved sole made of a special blend of memory foam, cork and polyurethane that molds to the contours of your foot, promoting good posture and easing pressure on your feet.

Case study: Amy's experience

Amy Stoltenberg profile photo
Amy Stoltenberg
Writer, Finder
I have arthritis from a foot injury and can attest that Alegria makes some of the most comfortable shoes on the planet for all-day wear. I own two pairs and really like the curved sole that propels me onward with every step, which I've found helps prevent limping and other unhealthy gait habits.

3. Sanita Professional Oil Clog

If Dansko clogs are too clunky for your taste but you like the idea of top-notch arch support and a wide toe box, go for Sanita's Professional Oil clog, made of premium leather. The skid-resistant outsole absorbs shock to help minimize fatigue throughout the day.

4. Birkenstock Super Outsole Ladies Clog

Birkenstock clogs come in cheery floral and paisley patterns, so you can show a little personality while making the rounds.

The sole is slip-resistant, and the buckle strap can be turned out for extra ankle support. The clogs also offer a contoured footbed, which can help ease pressure points as you go about your day.

One Amazon reviewer raves, "I wore Birks 20 years ago as a new nurse and have tried everything. Twenty years later, I'm on my third pair … I love these."

5. Dansko Professional

Dansko shoes have a roomy, reinforced toe box that lets your toes spread out as you go about your shift, which should help reduce or even eliminate those pesky blisters.

I tried Dansko clogs at the suggestion of other coworkers, and I have to say it's been one of the best decisions I've made. My feet don't hurt after my shift nearly as often, and my back doesn't ache as much either.”

Jon Barbarula, RN and Norwalk Community College Nursing Program Graduate

6. Hoka One One Clifton 7

Nurses who prefer a bit of pizazz in their on-the-clock shoes will love Hoka One Ones, sneakers that come in pretty colors like hot coral and morning mist. The mesh outsole is lightweight and breathable, while the thick sole works to support your joints.

Hoka can be especially comfortable if you have plantar fasciitis, thanks to its specially molded footbed.

7. Brooks Levitate 4 L.E.

These Brooks sneakers feature a highly breathable mesh upper and lightweight midsole, designed to help you go further faster with less energy. The Levitate's midsole is 20% lighter than other Brooks sneakers.

Brooks guarantees that if you aren't completely happy with its shoes after 90 days, you can return them for a refund.

8. Klogs Footwear Carolina

The Carolina from Klogs has an odor-resistant, antimicrobial footbed that's ideal for working in a medical environment. This pair also features a cute criss-cross detail and a genuine leather upper, which means they'll get better with age.

"These require no break in period," says a Zappos review. "I wore them right out of the box, straight to working a long shift, and they are super comfy."

9. Timberland Pro Renova Slip-On Work Shoes

Timberland's classic black clogs come with its antimicrobial odor control, which prevents … well, smelliness. They're also built with antifatigue technology that absorbs shock throughout the day. And they're risk-free, since you can return them after 30 days if they aren't as comfy as other brands you've tried.

"I have tried many different shoes in my nursing career but these beat them all! It took a couple weeks to break them in but these make the 12 hours shifts on my feet easy!" says a nurse on Timberland's review page. "I love the easy to clean clog style. And the heel is shorter than other popular clogs, which has eliminated the issue of rolling my ankles."

10. Adidas Ultraboost

Adidas Ultraboost shoes are designed to maximize the energy you exert from stride to stride, with a sock-like fit that feels like a second skin. They're made with a high-performance recycled material called Primeblue, which is partly composed of plastic marine waste.

11. Merrell Altalight Waterproof

Merrells aren't just for hiking or walking outdoors. According to a host of Redditors, this brand offers excellent ankle support for grueling hospital shifts. This pair is waterproof and offers a special heel cushion to absorb shock with every step.

12. ECCO S-Three Gore-Tex

Ecco tennis shoes come with a washable OrthoLite insole for breathability and long-lasting cushioning. They're also waterproof and designed with proprietary traction for a strong grip as you go about your duties or sprint toward an emergency. As an added bonus, this pair comes in classic, stylish colors for men and women.

13. Alegria Paloma

We couldn't close out the list without shouting out Alegria again, as its shoes are beloved by nurses in online chat rooms and reviews all across the Internet. A classic Mary Jane style, the Paloma comes in more than 15 colors and patterns.

One Zappos reviewer notes that her daughter in nursing loves Alegria shoes so much, she owns seven different pairs.

How to choose nursing shoes: Tips from nurses

The day-to-day life of a nurse includes standing, walking and running for hours on end while caring for patients. Your shoes should be able to handle the heat, preventing sore feet and joints, blisters and chronic podiatric issues.

Dr. Samuel Adegboyega of New York City College of New York City College of Podiatric Medicine advises weighing nine qualities when buying a nursing shoe.

  1. Comfortability
  2. Lightweight materials
  3. Support and stabilization
  4. Pain reduction
  5. Slip resistance
  6. Removable insoles
  7. Shock absorption
  8. Style, if possible
  9. Odor-resistance, if possible

Dr. Adegboyega also recommends getting your feet measured before investing in a new pair of nursing shoes, since the size of your feet can change over time with weight fluctuations and age. You can get the width and size of your foot measured by a podiatrist or at specialized shoe stores in your neighborhood. Or, you can order a foot measuring device for less than $10 on Amazon.

When to get a new pair of nursing shoes

Dr. Samuel recommends buying a new pair of nursing shoes every six months. But you may need to replace them more or less frequently depending on your weight, gait pattern, foot deformities, the number of steps you take every day and how often you wear them.

Failing to replace your shoes could lead to injuries like foot and ankle strain and sprain, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis and pain in your arches, knees and back.

Here's how to tell when it's time to invest in a new pair of nursing shoes, according to Dr. Samuel.

  1. Loss of tread pattern on the bottom of the shoes, which makes the shoes uneven on flat surfaces and can lead to injury.
  2. Insoles that are worn out or no longer provide support.
  3. Pain in your body that stems from your feet.

Pair the right nursing shoes with compression socks

While researching the best shoes for nurses, a piece of advice we heard again and again is that nurses who deal with pain in their calves and heels should pick up a pair of compression socks, which promote the flow of oxygen to sore and tired muscles.

Look for socks made of nylon and Spandex, avoiding polyester, which can trap heat and result in sweaty feet.

Top-rated compression socks for nurses include:

  • Vitalsox Italy compression socks
  • Physix Gear Sport Compression Socks
  • Paplus ankle compression socks

Compression socks are typically rated in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and come with light, mild or heavy compression. If you're new to compression socks, we recommend starting with light or mild, which range between 10 to 20 mmHg. Talk to a medical professional if you feel like you need a more extreme compression, as they should be prescribed by a doctor.

For longer shifts, bring along a second pair to change into halfway through your shift. A shoe's cushioning gets compressed — and stops being supportive — after about six hours.

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