When you’re on your feet for 10+ hours every day–whether it’s building houses, taking vital signs, or extolling the benefits of the dessert menu–the shoes you wear have a major impact on the health of your feet.
Plantar fasciitis, an inflammatory condition caused by damage and strain to the plantar fascia (also known as the arch of your foot) are commonplace in jobs and industries that require employees to spend most of the day walking and standing.
What’s more, many of these jobs have unique footwear requirements that go beyond arch health (such as non-slip soles or heavy-duty work boots for construction safety).
With these dynamics, finding the right pair of shoes can be daunting.
In this blog post, you’ll learn everything you need to know about finding the right pair of work shoes that meet your needs and prevent heel pain too!
Best Shoes for Waitresses and Waiters
As a waiter or waitress, you spend long days and evenings dashing back and forth across the restaurant and taking orders. In other words, by the end of your shift, your feet need some service.
Wearing poorly made shoes, or shoes that simply don’t give your feet all the support they need, can result in serious foot injuries including heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, hammer toes, and bunions.
To combat the long hours you spend on your feet, you’ll need shoes that provide superior arch support, thick cushioning, and non-slip soles for the many potential surface hazards. You’ll also want to hone in on the following unique qualities:
- Many restaurants and hospitality venues require a particular dress standard–typically nice black dress shoes–which narrows your options further. Don’t sacrifice style over comfort, though. Fit and support should always come first.
- Pay close attention to your toe box and heel height. If you choose to wear wedges or heels, you’ll want to stay as low to the ground as possible and watch your toe box. A narrow toe box–especially when combined with a heel–forces your toes downward and can easily lead to claw foot, hammer toes, and bunions.
Top brands for waiters and waitresses include the popular Dasko, which offers supportive and comfortable dress shoes, sandals, and clogs. New Balance also offers several dress-shoe options with rave ratings when it comes to support–and style.
See below for our top work style picks for men and women!
Best Shoes for Nurses, Orderlies, and Medical
There are few jobs more physically demanding than the medical field. Not only are you required to lift, bend, and stay on the move constantly–you’re also often required to stay on your feet for 12 hours straight or longer.
As a nurse, orderly, or medical professional, you’ll want to focus on arch support, shock absorption, cushioning, and proper fit to avoid injury to the plantar fascia or the muscles and ligaments in the foot. In addition to these core attributes, you’ll also want to look for these unique attributes:
- Slip resistance: The medical industry can be unpredictable–and messy. Slip resistance is absolutely critical.
Lightweight materials: Heavy shoes are the last thing you need as a medical professional. Choose shoes made from lightweight materials, like rubber.
- Heel support: While many nurses and orderlies choose Crocs–because of their lightweight, comfortable design–they’re not a great choice for a long shift. Crocs lack heel support, adding more strain to your fascia and allowing the heel to shift while you walk.
- Many medical professionals swear by the Dansko brand. New Balance, Asics, and Spira are other top brands that cater to the medical profession with comfortable, long-lasting work shoes.
See below for our top work shoe style picks for men and women.
Best Work Boots for Service Professionals
In the not-so-distant past, work boots came in extremely limited style options that often made plantar fasciitis worse. Thankfully, there’s now quite a few work boots that cushion, protect, and support the plantar fascia and heel.
First and foremost, work boots should protect and support the plantar fascia. Work boots should also provide thick cushioning with extra padding at the fascia or arch, along with the following unique attributes for service professionals:
- Full coverage is important for service professionals to protect all parts of the foot and heel in potentially dangerous or unpredictable environments.
- Choose laces rather than straps or zip where possible. Laces allow you to perfect the fit of the boot along all areas of the ankle, foot, and heel more effectively.
- Look for high shock absorption. Shoes that will absorb shock well have thicker soles and cushioning inside the shoe. Good shock absorption is critical to reducing impact from abrupt movements or sudden impact.
See below for our top work boot style picks.
Top Brands and Styles for Work Shoes
More brands than ever are supporting foot health and arch support. These are a few of our favorite brands and styles for work shoes that help combat plantar fasciitis!
- The Brooks Addiction Walker: This casual shoe offers great support, cushioning, and the fit of a running shoe with a dressier style. It’s slip resistant and made of durable leather.
- New Balance MW928: This comfortable shoe offers high stability, support, and durability. Individuals who are overweight may find that this shoe is particularly helpful in balancing out weight and absorbing impact.
- Asics GEL-Tech Walker Neo: This shoe is incredibly lightweight with a strong, stable sole and good support. The cushioning is on the light side–meaning you’ll likely want to supplement them with orthotic inserts.
- Dansko Professional Clogs: Durable, comfortable, and supportive–there’s a reason Dansko is one of the most popular work shoe brands. Dansko Professional Clogs are made of leather and have a conservative, stylish appearance. They also get great traction!
- Spira Classic Leather Walking Shoe: Another great option for pairing style with comfort, Spira is terrific on shock absorption and structure for max comfort. Cushioning is a bit sparse, so be sure to pair this shoe with an orthotic insert.
- New Balance MW928: New Balance offers one of the best options in casual work shoes for both men and women. Terrific arch support as well as shock absorption, with great traction to boot.
Top Brands and Styles of Work Boots
We love the arch support and comfort these work boots offer:
- Timberland Pro Pit Boss: With solid coverage, durable design, no-slip soles, and laces for the perfect fit, these Timberland boots go the extra mile with cushioning, arch support, and a steel toe to boot.
- Caterpillar Second Shift: Caterpillar has rightfully earned a name for itself in the construction industry. These boots are built to last with durable full-grain leather, good arch support, cushioning, and additional helpful features like steel toes, electrical hazard protection, and a no-slip sole.
- Wolverine Raider Boot: Not only are these boots extremely comfortable–they’re also durable, slip-resistant, cushioned, and integrate breathable mesh to keep your feet fresh and reduce blisters.
More Tips for Preventing Heel Pain on the Job
While finding the right work shoe or work boot is absolutely critical to avoiding plantar fasciitis and heel pain, it’s not the only way you can protect your feet. Keep the following tips in mind to support that new pair of works shoes!
Take Those Breaks
This might seem like a no-brainer, but during a busy workday it’s all too easy to skip a break or cut your break short. Most employees are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act–meaning you’re entitled to a full break at regular intervals. Make sure to take advantage of those breaks to sit and rest your feet, since rest is one of the best ways to keep your arch healthy.
Take Your Shoes to the Next Level
While many modern work shoes and work boots include some degree of cushioning, it’s not always enough. Add cushioning–plus targeted arch support–with orthotic inserts made specifically for plantar fasciitis. The great thing about orthotic inserts is that they can easily be transferred between pairs of shoes. In other words, that expensive–but support-free–work shoe you just purchased has a whole new lease on life now!
Stretch and Ice
During breaks, or after you get home from work, take some time to stretch and ice painful heels and feet. Icing and stretching, while simple, are incredibly effective at reducing inflammation, breaking up adhesions, and improving blood flow and healing for overworked feet.
Your job is important, and your your feet take you everywhere you need to go. Take care of your feet by wearing the right shoes for the job, and the right shoes for your arch!