There are many occupations that require being on your feet all of or most of the day. Nursing, retail, restaurant industry, hospitably, security, technicians… you know who you are. And you probably know the feelings of back pain, sore feet, and achy knees. When our feet suffer, our enjoyment of work suffers, which can lead to less productivity, unhappy bosses, and eventually job loss.
Ok ok, that may be extreme, but your feet are important! The proper shoe with the proper fit can make the world of a difference for your arches, back, and knees when you work long hours. Your work conditions may not be changeable, but what supports the foundation of you body definitely is!
Running and walking shoes offer lots of cushion and support for long hours of standing. But there is not one, three, or five best shoes for long hours of standing. Every foot is different, and one shoe does not fit all people. It is best to be fitted in person so that you can try on several shoes to find the right fit.
Here are a few qualities to ask about and look for in shopping for the best shoe for retail, nursing, or any job type with lots of movement on your feet.
This one may seem obvious, but we see a lot of nurses and factory workers wearing little to no cushioning in their shoes. One reason is because they are old and need to be replaced. (Hop over to this blog post to see if your shoes need replacing.)
When buying a shoe for a standing job, look for a shoe with higher cushion to provide support and shock absorption for your joints. These shoes will have an obvious extra foam in the foot bed.
Just a warning, higher cushion usually means a higher price, but they will also last longer because of the extra foam. So the cost pays off.
It is already important to be fitted for the correct length with running and walking shoes, but it is even more so for someone who stands on their feet all day. Feet swell and if a shoe is too tight, then the toes will not have enough room to breathe and move correctly, causing more pain and fatigue in the arch and bottom of the foot.
To find the size of a running or walking shoe, we measure the length of the ball arch. The widest part of the forefoot should fit comfortably in the widest part of the shoe. If the fit is correct, you will have about a 3/4” (a thumbnail size) space between the end of the toe and the end of the shoe. The space prevents your toes from jabbing into the end of the shoe when your feet swell and you are walking around.
Along with the correct length of the shoe, you want to have the right width. This is a BIG deal! If the shoe is too narrow, when your feet swell from hours of walking around, your poor feet will be screaming for relief.
When we measure a foot, we look at the width of the widest part of the foot. There are several different widths in both men’s and women’s shoes. If your foot is hanging off the sides of the footbed, you need a larger width, not necessarily a size up in length. A running or walking shoe is supposed to fit more like a slipper and less like a soccer cleat.
(read this if you are required to wear a specific shoe)
If you cut off the fabric around the top of a shoe, you will find an almost flat surface. There is very little arch support in a walking or running shoe. But if you are standing all day, it is very important to support the arch from collapsing.
Our solution is the Powerstep insert that was designed by a podiatrist as an over-the-counter orthotic to support the foot and relieve pain. A flexible plastic cushioned with foam provides built-in arch support. In the heel, there is a cradle to cup the natural fat pad to provide more cushion. The good news is that the Powerstep can go into about any shoe (even high heels) and comes in several shapes, sizes, and thicknesses.
We know we know, these are not shoes. But compression socks will help deoxygenated blood in the veins flow from your feet and calves back to your heart to be replenished with fresh blood and be sent back to your tired legs.
Think of how much shock you body takes as you walk across concrete floors for 8, 10, 12 hours. These vibrations eventually cause fatigue in the muscles. The tight compression around the foot and ankle and lighter compression going up the calves assist getting fresh blood to flow into your legs. Compression socks will help decrease fatigue as you work on your feet. In our store, we sell CEP socks and Tennessee made Sockwell socks. Stop by to have your calf and foot fitted for the right size.
Whether you are required to wear a specific work shoe or have the freedom to wear any shoe at work, there are several steps you can take to support your arches, increase blood flow, and relieve fatigue and pain. Stop by the store to talk to one of our fit experts about your job requirements and what shoe is best for your feet.