Nursing shoes that fit and are made for walking lead to happy feet

By | 2020-04-15T16:43:32-04:00 October 16th, 2018|1 Comment

In a Sept. 7 Facebook poll, we asked nurses how many steps they log per nursing shift, and your answers were astounding.

One nurse said she logged between 4,000 and 8,000 steps on a weekend shift — around two to four miles, and many others logged a solid 8,000 steps per shift.

Other nurses who shared their step counts logged thousands more steps, averaging between 10,000 and 12,000 steps. A few of you even logged as many as 20,000 steps during a 12-hour shift!

Joint, back and foot pain may seem like an expected part of the job, given the amount of time nurses spend on their feet.

But experts who specialize in foot care urge you to reconsider this assumption.

Kate Clayton-Jones, MSN, MBA, RN, CFCS, CFCN, was working as a nurse at a Massachusetts hospital when she started specializing in the foot care field in graduate school.

“I noticed an incredible number of nurses complaining about their feet hurting at the end of their shifts,” Clayton-Jones said.

nursing shoes

She began informally educating nurses about how their feet, legs and muscles worked together, and she offered suggestions about how to select shoes that could reduce or eliminate pain.

According to our recent survey, 75% of female respondents and 67% of male respondents said the design of a medical show was either very important or extremely important when buying shoes.

When asked about comfort, 88% of female respondents and 83% of male respondents reported comfort was extremely important when buying medical shoes.

There are some simple ways to maximize comfort for nurses who may be walking up to 50 miles a week on the job. We talked to Clayton-Jones, founder of FootCare by Nurses, about best practices for selecting nursing shoes.

nursing shoes - kate clayton jones

Kate Clayton-Jones, RN

Q: What is the first step in picking the right shoe?

A: Many people think their shoe sizes remain the same over time, but weight gain and swelling can change the width and volume of our feet. This can add as much as an additional shoe size.

It’s important to use the foot measuring device in a store to get a rough idea of the right sizing for your shoes. If you measure a size 8, you may need anywhere between a 7.5 to a 9 depending on the shoe.

Q: What types of shoes will maximize comfort?

A: Start by looking for shoes that fit the activities you’ll be doing on your shift.

I recommend shoes with a heavier sole that can absorb the impact of concrete, such as a good walking or hiking shoe. But nurses should avoid soles that are too stiff, like clogs, because the foot is supposed to flex to allow blood and lymph to circulate.

Q: How do I find a shoe that matches my foot?

A:  I encourage nurses to trace the general outline of their feet on a piece of paper and cut it out before they go to the store. This serves as their unique foot pattern. This is important because every foot is different.

Some people may have long toes, a short foot and a narrow heel while others may have short toes, a long foot and a wide heel. Both will measure the same shoe size, and shoes are made in a variety of shapes. Try removing the insert and comparing it to your cut out or foot. It should match.

People sometimes believe that spending more money on a shoe will maximize comfort, but no amount of money will create comfort if the shoe pattern doesn’t match your foot pattern.

Q: Are there any other ways to avoid foot pain?

A: Once you’ve found shoes that are designed for the work load and fit your feet, the next important step is properly securing the shoe to your foot. This can be done with lacing or a correctly positioned strap.

The heel should be secured in the heel of the shoe. Otherwise, the foot may slip forward, which can either cramp the toes or force them to hold the shoe onto the foot. Gripping the toes can increase the risk of plantar fasciitis, hammertoe and other injuries.

Q: When should nurses start focusing on foot care?

A: I usually treat patients who are older, and I’ve seen what happens to the back, legs and joints when people spend 20 to 30 years in a career without taking care of their feet. If instructors start teaching nursing students about the importance of foot care, they will enter the profession knowing that their feet and legs should not hurt.

They also can be role models and teachers for others who follow their lead. The reality is that nurses are hard workers, and if they apply a little bit of nursing knowledge to their feet, they will feel better and even have enough energy to go on a walk after a full day of work.

Tips for taking care of your toes

Liberated toes are critical for maintaining good balance and relieving tension. Follow these tips to improve balance and keep toes, feet and legs healthy:

  1. Be mindful of where you are putting your weight on your feet. Physics changes the shape of our feet.
  2. Weight should mainly be on the heels and outside foot, not on the inside, forefoot or toes.
  3. Practice tension and release with your feet pointing in different directions.
  4. Encourage blood flow into the toes by wiggling them often.
  5. Massage and loosen the toes after work.
  6. Use lotion, creams and oils that are gentle to the skin, such as olive or coconut oil.

Download the full nursing shoes infographic here.

Take these courses to focus on your self-care:

Nurse, Take Care of Thy Self
(1 contact hr)

Nursing is a stressful profession! Nurses are known for taking care of others at the cost of their own well-being. Lack of self-care can lead to compassion fatigue, personal health issues, and a lack of work life balance. When a nurse takes the time to care for themselves, both their colleagues and patients will reap the benefit. As easy as it sounds, it can be hard to create a work-life balance, exercise, and be a nurse role model. When pursuing continuing education or a new professional role, self-care and time management are key to helping yourself be successful.

Work Life Balance: Learning to Say “No” Strategically!
(1 contact hr)

Leadership and management roles are highly stressful, and the more we take care of others, the less time we take care of ourselves. Lack of self-care can lead to compassion fatigue, personal health issues and deteriorating relationships with your staff. However, as the leader, we need to walk the talk and demonstrate work life balance to our staff. As nurses, we tend to say yes to everything. Learning to say “no” is hard. In this webinar, learn how to say “no” strategically in order to create work-life balance.

From ‘Distress’ to ‘De-stress’ With Stress Management
(1 contact hr)

A stress response causes specific biological changes, such as increased heart rate, bronchodilation, horripilation (goose bumps), increased blood pressure, increased sweat production, decreased immune response, decreased insulin and increased blood glucose. The volume of research in this area is growing rapidly, and it is safe to conclude that immune modulations caused by psychosocial stressors or interventions directly affect health outcomes. In the 2011 American Nurses Association survey of health and safety concerns, 74% of nurses reported effects of stress and overwork as their number one concern. This result is up slightly from the 2001 survey. A recent publication reports that nurses experience high levels of workplace stress with negative effects on both individual nurses and the organizations that employ them. This module provides information to help healthcare professionals manage their own stress and patients’ stress.


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About the Author:

Heather Stringer
Heather Stringer is a health and science freelance writer based in San Jose, Calif. She has 20 years of writing experience and her work has appeared in publications such as Scientific American, Discover, Proto, Cure, Women and the Monitor on Psychology.

One Comment

  1. Avatar
    Richard Baker March 31, 2020 at 5:50 am - Reply

    I bought Skechers Comfort flex because of the great reviews they had but I don’t know that I would buy them again. I have worn sketchers with memory foam before but thought I would try these as I am a nurse and have quite a bit of foot pain when I am on my feet all day. The memory foam was much more firm than I remembered with previous Sketchers. I knew there was a “break-in” period but have worn these for about a month and a half and they still feel kind of stiff. On my right foot, my pinky toe gets pinched at times and is painful when I wear them all day. The fit is as expected and I like the color but I think in the future I will go with the other memory foam that Sketchers sells. Foot pain is slightly better but not gone.

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