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Published Sep. 21, 2021

Nurses are on their feet and on the go for the majority of their workday, and those days can last anywhere from ten to twelve hours. Your feet need adequate support and protection during a day that long and demanding. The best nursing shoes cushion and support the arch and protect the feet from liquids and sharps. They also need adequate traction and grip to keep you upright when things get messy. 

Not every shoe can tick all of those boxes. Our list of the best nursing shoes has pairs for women and men and includes a variety of styles and price ranges. Remember—happy feet let you focus on your patients, even when a shift gets long.  

How We Picked the Products

Methodology

I’ve researched and written about home products for five years. As an avid runner, shoes of all types have naturally caught my interest and been the subject of several articles. While nursing may not be running, there are some similarities that definitely cross over. Arch support, cushioning, and fit matter when you’re on your feet for hours (or miles). I considered:

  • Brand reputation: Does the brand’s reputation reflect user experience?
  • Performance and user experience: Do the shoes live up to their promises? Do users buy pairs over and over again?
  • Materials and design: Do the materials warrant the price, and does the design support the needs of nurses?
  • Tread: Will the shoes keep users upright on wet floors?
  • Foot protection: What kind of protection from liquids and sharps do the shoes offer?

The Best Nursing Shoes: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: Hoka One One Bondi 7

Cushioned Support

Hoka One One enjoys a reputation for well-cushioned, supportive shoes, and the Bondi 7 offers the most cushioning of any shoe in their lineup.
HOKA ONE ONE

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Why It Made The Cut: The Hoka One One Bondi 7 gets the top award because of its plush cushioning and impressive arch support.  

Specs:

  • Weight: 8.9 ounces
  • Heel to toe drop: 4.00 mm
  • Cushioning level: High

Pros: 

  • Early-stage meta-rocker reduces fatigue
  • Maximum cushioning in a lightweight shoe
  • American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) Seal of Acceptance

Cons:

  • Narrow fit through the heel
  • Not sharps resistant

The Hoka One One enjoys a well-deserved reputation as one of the most cushioned running shoes on the market. The Bondi 7 has the highest cushioning level, known as plush, that Hoka One One offers. It features good support for the arch, too. In fact, the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) has given the Bondi 7 their Seal of Acceptance, which means it’s been reviewed by a group of APMA podiatrists and found to promote foot health. 

Beyond cushioning and support, nurses get extra help from the Bondi’s early-stage meta-rocker. The rocker smoothly propels the foot through the step, reducing the effort it takes to walk or run. It has a narrower heel cup but stays comfortable with a memory foam collar around the ankle that adapts to each foot’s unique shape. The Bondi 7 has average water-resistance, but one of its weaknesses is that it’s not designed to resist sharps. 

Best for Women: Brooks Women’s Ghost 13

Smooth and Soft

This shoe provides added arch support yet still offers enough cushioning for all-day wear. Brooks

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Why It Made The Cut: The Brooks Women’s Ghost 13 has supportive cushioning and a smooth ride designed for long days, making it an easy choice for the best women’s nursing shoe.

Specs: 

  • Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Heel to toe drop: 12 mm
  • Cushioning level: Medium

Pros:

  • Soft but stable cushioning 
  • Supports the transition from heel to toe for less fatigue
  • Additional arch support

Cons: 

  • Not sharps resistant

The Brooks Women’s Ghost 13 is a solid shoe that balances support and cushioning. It has added arch support to prevent overpronation (rolling inward of the foot). However, that support comes with gentle cushioning. Together, it creates a soft yet stable landing. 

That support/cushioning combination is achieved with Brooks DNA Loft layer that combines ethylene-vinyl acetate with rubber and air pockets to absorb shock. What that means for nurses is that the shoe can reduce fatigue by absorbing the impact of each footstep. There’s already an upgrade to this shoe in the Ghost 14. However, that upgrade comes with a narrower toe box that could put the squeeze on your feet as they start to swell throughout the day. 

The Ghost 13 has its drawbacks, namely that it resists water but isn’t waterproof, nor is it designed to resist sharps. But if comfort is your number 1 concern, this is the shoe.

Best for Men: Dansko Men’s XP 2.0 Clog

Practical and Comfortable

The Dansko Men’s XP 2.0 provides a roomy toe box, ample heel cushioning, and a rubber outsole that maintains a strong grip. Dansko

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Why It Made The Cut: The XP 2.0 made the list because of its durability and custom feel, once it gets broken in.  

Specs:

  • Weight: 25.6 ounces
  • Heel to toe drop: NA
  • Cushioning level: Medium

Pros:

  • Grippy traction and heel
  • Generous arch support and custom heel cushioning
  • American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) Seal of Acceptance

 Cons:

  • Requires break-in time 

Many nurses find that once they’ve worn the Dansko Men’s XP 2.0 Clogs, they never go back to another shoe. The XP 2.0 has the APMA Seal of Acceptance, making it a certified way to support your feet. This is the second version of the XP, and this latest model is lighter weight and has an ultra-grippy sole to prevent the slipping that was a problem with the original XP.

It also contains an anti-fatigue rocker bottom that rolls the foot through each step to reduce the effort it takes to walk. A removable footbed allows you to insert custom orthotics if needed. Finally, the leather exterior provides some resistance against sharps. 

However, this shoe takes time to break in. Some users found that it takes several weeks for the footbed to conform to the foot.

Best Arch Support: Dansko Women’s Professional Clog

Stability and Protection

The Professional Clog features a reinforced toe box and polyurethane inner frame for added stability. Dansko

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Why It Made The Cut: The Professional Clog provides protection from sharps and liquids while supporting the arch and cushioning the heel for an excellent all-around arch support shoe.

Specs:

  • Weight: 30 ounces
  • Heel to toe drop: N/A
  • Cushioning level: Medium

Pros:

  • APMA Seal of Acceptance
  • Additional arch support
  • Breathable foam footbed improves breathability
  • Reinforced to resist sharps 

Cons: 

  • Takes time to break in

The Dansko Women’s Professional Clog has the stability and cushioning for which the Dansko brand is well known. This shoe received the APMA Seal of Acceptance as a shoe that supports good foot health. It does that with a breathable and supportive footbed. Extra reinforcement in the arch keeps the foot in a healthy position even when fatigue starts to set in.

A wide, reinforced toolbox leaves plenty of wiggle room for the toes. The leather and reinforcement work together to protect the feet from liquids and sharps. 

The Dansko’s footbed can feel stiff for the first few weeks as you get used to them. In fact, it can take a while for them to break-in and mold to the shape of your foot. However, once they do, you might find it hard to ever wear another pair of shoes to work again.

Best Value: Slow Man Sock Sneakers

Deceptively Simple but Supportive

The Slow Man Sock Sneakers have the comfort of a sock with the support of a shoe. Slow Man

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Why It Made The Cut: The Slow Man Sock Sneakers are free of bells and whistles, leaving behind a shoe that’s supportive, well-cushioned, and affordable.  

Specs: 

  • Weight: 16.86 ounces
  • Heel to toe drop: N/A
  • Cushioning level: High

Pros:

  • Slip-resistant tread
  • Comfortable cushioning, especially in the heel
  • Breathable uppers contour to the foot for a more comfortable fit

Cons:

  • Not resistant to sharps
  • Little water protection

The Slow Man Socks Sneakers’ design focuses on comfort and support. A highly cushioned heel and arch are held to the foot with a flexible, aerated upper. The upper’s opening offers the right amount of elasticity, so the shoes are easy to slip on and off. The soft material conforms to the foot for a snug but comfortable fit. 

Slow Man utilizes cooling technology to circulate heat and air while cutting back on weight and disbursing impact. A grippy, slip-resistant sole keeps you on your feet even when things get wet and messy. These comfortable shoes have their drawbacks, including the fact that they’re not very water-resistant, nor do they provide much protection from sharps. 

Things to Consider Before Buying Nursing Shoes

Cushioning and Stability

Nurses need cushioning that’s soft but not mushy. Mushy shoes can put too much pressure on the nerves of the feet and numb them by the end of the day. Stable cushioning often features an inner framework or heel counters that lock the foot in place. It’s a bit of a balancing act, but one that will prevent fatigue on long shifts.

Foot Protection

Nursing isn’t without its hazards. Unidentified liquids and sharps get dropped all the time. A shoe that’s water-resistant or waterproof keeps liquids out. Finding a pair that’s resistant to sharps is more difficult. Sneakers don’t usually perform well in this regard. If dropped sharps are more common in your specialty, a leather upper or reinforced toe box protects better than the average sneaker. 

Tread and Grip

Those liquids that fell on top of your foot—now they’re on the floor where you can slip. Nursing shoes need excellent grip and tread. The right tread grips the floor for those times when running is better than walking or when a wet mess can’t be avoided.

FAQs

Q: Why do nurses wear clogs?

High-quality clogs (not bargain pairs) provide excellent support for the back, knee, ankle, and foot. They’re easy to put on and have excellent cushioning. Clogs also come in water-resistant and reinforced designs to resist sharps.

Q: What is the best brand of shoes for nurses?

Many of the best brands made our list, namely Dansko, Brooks, and Hoka One One. These three brands are known for their well-cushioned, supportive shoes, and that’s exactly what nurses need.

Q: How often should nurses replace shoes?

Most shoes have about 300 to 500 miles in them before the cushioning and support break down. Nurses can go through a pair of shoes in three to six months, depending on their job description and whether they work part or full time. Replace your shoes before you notice that they’ve lost their support.

Final Thoughts

The Hoka One One Bondi 7 takes the top position for their otherworldly cushioning and support. But if it’s protection from sharps and liquids that you’re looking for, the Dansko Women’s Professional Clog or Dansko Men’s XP 2.0 Clog are more likely to keep the feet dry and puncture-free.

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