Healthcare workers dedicate their lives to caring for others. They often work long hours and night shifts while spending significant amounts of time on their feet - whether that’s standing during extended surgeries or walking constantly between patients. Research has found that nurses can walk over 6 km and take almost 9,000 steps per shift, and that people working in the health sector are more likely to have work-related health problems, including ankle, foot, and knee disorders, pain, edema (swelling), toe problems, and corns and calluses.
It’s no wonder that extended periods of standing and walking in healthcare can take its toll on the bones, joints and muscles in your feet, not to mention your posture and knees. Whether you work in a hospital, a clinic, or even in an aged-care home, it’s important to select shoes that take care of your health and foot care needs too, with the support of an experienced podiatrist who can help you to select the right footwear to prevent injury, improve comfort, and support your overall foot health.
Here we’ve created a guide outlining features to look for when selecting quality, supportive shoes for healthcare workers, and specific shoe options over a range of styles that are currently popular in our clinic.
Visiting Your Podiatrist - Tips For Success
When getting ready to visit your podiatrist to find your perfect work shoes, remember to:
- Select socks with the right thickness for what you’d typically wear to work. If you have a range of thicknesses, go with the thicker ones - you don’t want to try your shoes on with thin socks and then find that your shoes against your feet when you try them on with thicker socks.
- Try on shoes at the end of the day - due to natural swelling, this is when our feet are at their largest.
- Observe which is your longest toe - it’s not always your big toe and can often be the second. Use this toe as a measure of whether the length feels right.
- If you’re an in-between size, try on the larger of the two sizes first.
- Always try both shoes on together. Many people have one foot that is slightly longer than the other, so select shoes by the length of your longest foot.
- Assess the fit when you’re standing, not sitting, as this will take into account the natural biomechanical characteristics of your feet, like rolling down to flatten and widen.
What Features Should I Look For In My Shoes?
Shock-absorbent and slip-resistant soles
Healthcare workers spend a lot of time on hard, unforgiving surfaces, such as lino covered concrete. Because of this, they’re more liable to damage their knee, hip and ankle joints over time - avoid this by selecting shoes that contain shock-absorbent soles to give your feet and joints softness and comfort all day (and all night) long. These floors can be slippery too, especially when they’ve been recently cleaned or medical supplies have been dropped, and healthcare workers can often trip over when they’re working around trolleys, wires and other medical equipment. A fall can easily result in an ankle or leg sprain, fracture or other injury, and make it difficult to get back to work as you recover. Look for slip-resistant work shoes with high traction rubber outsoles. As well as this, remember that the wider the bottom of the shoe, the more traction you’ll naturally have.
Avoid heaviness - choose the lightweights
We don’t often think about the weight of our shoes as something that we can control, but it absolutely is. Choosing heavy shoes means that your feet can feel weighed down with every step, which may not be noticeable on a step-to-step basis, but adds up over time and can lead to tired and achy legs after only one shift. Opt for lightweight materials where possible, and when choosing between a few pairs, always check their weight.
Have your feet measured to find right width and length
When it comes to length, correct-fitting shoes should give you a level of comfort and snugness without feeling pressure, restricting circulation, feeling any toes hitting the edges, feeling rubbing at the back of the heel or from the top of the shoe. Make sure you have at least 1cm of toe room at the front of your longest toe, and that the toe box is wide enough to wiggle your toes. If you're wearing shoes that are too big, you’re more likely to develop painful calluses, corns and blisters.
When it comes to width, your shoes should be snug and comfortable around your midfoot and heel. Shoes that are narrow can cause painful rubbing, foot cramps, and may even lead to bunions. Shoes that are too wide won’t be well secured to your foot, which can also cause pain and friction. At the forefoot, the toe box should have a little more room to accommodate how your toes move when you walk, which may splay out or grip the shoe. It should also fit around any features of your feet, like a bunion or claw toes.
Durability - select quality that will last the distance
We always recommend opting for shoes made from long-lasting materials - in our clinic we commonly see patients who complain about a pair of shoes that they’ve quickly worn through, wishing they’d invested in a better quality pair to see them through another year. This is why we opt for trusted, podiatrist-approved brands, and stock them in our clinic. The shoes we stock are built to last - both in their design, the way they support feet, and their materials.
From a podiatric perspective, we will always recommend shoes that wrap around the ankle and help to support it. By supporting and controlling the movement at the ankle, you’re limiting the side-to-side movement that the ankle is able to do, which can help prevent unwanted and straining movement.
Just be careful that the shoe doesn’t sit too high, either - if the sides extend too close towards the bony bumps (malleoli) around your ankle, they may rub, be uncomfortable and cause pain.
Strong heel counter
The heel counter of a shoe is the part that sits behind the heel and wraps around the ankle, often having a stitch or seam. A heel counter that is firm will help to control the movement at the heel and ankle, adding stability and helping control the position of the foot. To test the integrity of your heel counter, push on the back of it with your thumb - the counter should be difficult to bend down, instead staying upright without flexing.
Comfortable, supportive and removable insoles
Finally, check the insoles of your shoes. Quality shoe brands are often designed alongside a consultant podiatrist who helps create a foot bed that is extremely comfortable and supportive, even when working on hard hospital floors. These are naturally found in many brands including Revere. We highly recommend having a professional foot bed as they can make a world of difference to your comfort levels. It also means that if the time arises where you may need an orthotic due to foot pain or injury, you’ll be able to slip the insole out and your custom orthotic in, without having to purchase a new pair of shoes.
Recommended Shoe Styles For Clinicians, Practitioners & Health Workers
1. Revere Boston Sneakers
The Revere Boston Sneakers are perfect for clinicians and practitioners who need shoes that are appropriate to wear both during office consultation or in-clinic, combining the comfort of a sneaker with the sleep look of black leather. Revere Boston Sneakers are considered to be the most comfortable orthotic shoes.
2. The 'Gordon' shoe by Dr Comfort
The Gordon shoe is a walking shoe designed to support active workers such as clinicians and health practitioners who spend a lot of time on their feet. It has a removable footbed that allows for a personalised fit, and has enough space to accommodate your custom-prescribed insoles. It’s particularly recommended for those with poor circulation, diabetes, foot ulcer history, calluses, or any foot deformities. The Gordon is sleek and sporty, and reduces the risk of future health issues while providing comfort and stability.
3. The 'Winner' shoe by Dr Comfort
This shoe is most definitely a winner for health care staff. It has a black leather upper which is not only waterproof but can also be cleaned easily and quickly in a messy health care environment. This shoe helps keep you active in complete comfort with features that include an unique arch stabiliser, shock-absorbent inners, non-slip, non-skid patterned rubber soles, wide toe box for plenty of wiggle room, and a padded heel cup and tongue to prevent skin irritation.
4. Revere Athens
Revere’s Athens shoes are incredibly comfortable lace-up sneakers that health practitioners and clinicians staff can wear all day for support and comfort, in a classic design that can be worn during work hours or afterwards, with any outfit or uniform. They tick all of our good feature boxes, and include built-in arch support, maximally adjustable uppers to help you get the perfect fit, premium leather, slip-resistant rubber outsole, lightweight materials, a multi layer cushioning system, and stability support.
Looking For More Podiatrist-Recommended Shoe Options?
Then come in and visit our retail store within our clinic. We have a wide range of styles available to suit a range of preferences, regardless of your work requirements. We’re located at 5/13 Alford Street, Kingaroy QLD 4610