What Are the Best Shoes for Nurses? 

It is no secret that nursing is one of the most taxing professions, both mentally and physically. While most people walk 2.5 to 3 miles in an entire day, nurses walk an average of 4-5 miles in a single twelve hour shift. That is roughly 10,000 steps.

Walking this much may be good for staying in shape, but it is not good for your lower extremities. Common issues that come along with not wearing quality footwear while being on the go all day are: 

+ Peripheral neuropathy

+ Plantar fasciitis

+ Heel spurs

+ Inflammation

However, health issues are not exclusive to nurse’s feet. Their ankles, knees, hips and backs are also wreaked havoc upon. That is why it’s so important for nurses to have the proper footwear. But, how do you find the best nursing shoes?

Important Factors in Choosing the Right Nursing Shoes

When shopping for nursing shoes, it is crucial to consider the state of the foot itself. What is the pronation? How high is the arch? What is the shape of the toes? 


Pronation is the term used to describe the mechanics of the foot when standing, walking or running. Ideally, the weight should be balanced on the feet, not leaning in (overpronation) or out (underpronation or supination). 

When the foot has a neutral pronation, the heel is able to maintain vertical alignment while in motion. If a foot is overpronated the ankle will have a tendency to roll inward when in motion. A supinated (underpronated) foot will roll outward. 

The simplest way to determine pronation of the foot is by examining where the shoes are most worn out. When the shoe is worn evenly across, pronation is neutral. If it is worn on the inside the foot is overpronated and if it is worn on the outside the foot is supinated


To determine the arch of the foot, look for any area of the insoles of the shoes that appear darker than the rest. Is the footprint solid, or are there parts where the foot is not touching?

A flat foot is indicated by a full footprint. The more of the center section that is missing from the footprint, the higher the arch is. A person with flat feet will require less arch support in their insoles than those with normal or high arches.


No matter the shape of the toes, it is important that they have room for movement and breathability. While the big toes are normally the largest, some people have secondary toes that extend past them, so it is important to accommodate that in order to prevent ingrown toenails, calluses, and bunions.

After the state of the foot itself is considered, it is equally as important to consider the features of the work shoe. How does it fit? Is it slip resistant? Arch supportive? Breathable or waterproof? How easy is it to clean? 


The right shoe should fit snugly, not too tight or too loose. It is important to accommodate for the swelling in the feet that will occur by the end of a shift to avoid pinching and rubbing, without leaving too much extra space for slipping. 


Aside from the fit of the shoe in general, it is crucial to consider the width of the toe box specifically. If unable to wiggle the toes with ease, a wider toe box is necessary to avoid issues such as:

+ Blisters

+ Calluses

+ Corns

+ Ingrown toenails

+ Bruising and bleeding

+ Cramping

+ Inflammation

+ Toe deformities

Toes are not meant to be crammed together, especially in professions where people are on their feet all day such as nursing, and over time typical, slim athletic shoes can greatly weaken the feet. By widening the toe box it is possible to alleviate or reverse this.


The amount of arch support in a shoe, particularly for people with flat feet or high arches, is very important. When applying constant pressure to the arch of the foot, or lack thereof, and it is not being supported properly, foot pain is just the first of the issues that will arise. Those issues will travel upwards to the ankles, knees, hips, and even the lower back. 

A nurse with flat feet would want to opt for a shoe with a lower arch height insole. The higher their arch is, the higher arch height insole they would want, for proper support. While there are some exercises and stretches to relieve pain and pressure in the foot resulting from improper arch support, the best treatment is preventing these problems altogether by wearing the right work shoes.


The amount of cushioning in the insole, as well as the shoe itself, is also important to consider. Neutral pronators should opt for a neutral shoe, which does not have stabilizing features but instead allows the foot to flex and move without guidance. 

Overpronators should opt for a stability or motion control shoe. These shoes are designed with added support in the midsole to prevent the foot, and therefore the ankle, from rolling inward. On the other hand, underpronators should opt for a more cushioned shoe. 

Health issues aside, there are also a great number of safety issues nurses encounter on a daily basis. Fluids being one of the most prevalent. 


Wet floors can lead to spilled medications, chemicals, or even injury if one were to slip and fall. Traction control is essential to prevent this on the most dangerous of surfaces, linoleum and tile, which are commonly used in hospitals and other medical facilities. Sometimes it is unknown what the liquids being walked through are. It could be as harmless as a spilled bedside water or as dangerous as an infectious bodily fluid. Something that can also be cleaned off and sanitized easily is crucial. 


Anyone’s feet can become hot and sweaty during a long shift, but if suffering from hyperhidrosis (abnormally excessive sweating), breathable shoes are even more important. While mesh shoes are a common solution, as they allow air to flow in and around the foot, they also allow fluids to do the same. Unfortunately waterproof shoes and breathable shoes tend to be mutually exclusive. 

Tennis Shoes vs. Nursing Shoes

When surveying nurses, Gales found that athletic tennis shoes are the most common choice when it comes to work shoes. However, tennis shoes have very different designs and are meant for different functions than those that are designed specifically for nursing. 


The insoles in tennis shoes only provide comfort for up to 6 hours at a time on average, whereas the insoles used in nursing shoes are designed to provide comfort for the entirety of those ten to twelve hour shifts. 


Tennis shoes were originally designed to be used on the tennis courts, so the focus is on providing the wearer with lateral support and stability when making quick, abrupt movements with the feet. They tend to be lower to the ground and less cushioned. Nursing shoes are designed to provide stability and support while standing or walking for long periods of time. 


Tennis shoes are made with non-scuffing soles with extra padding on the toes to provide traction on dry surfaces and reduce friction in the joints. Nursing shoes have a rubber outsole which provides the same benefits while on wet or slippery surfaces as well. 


Tennis shoes are often made of softer materials that are not able to be cleaned easily. Even if the tops are able to be wiped down quickly, the laces can not be. Aside from the cleanability aspect, slip-on nursing shoes are especially great for those working in the Operation theater where sterility needs to be maintained. Reaching down to take the shoes on or off, or if laces were to come untied during an operation, would put the nurse out of that sterility zone. Leaving the shoes untied would be a safety hazard. 


While most tennis shoes are made primarily of mesh, which is great for letting air flow in and around the foot, it is also great at letting fluids do the same. Not only is a wet shoe uncomfortable, it is also a breeding ground for bacteria. Nursing shoes offer much greater waterproofing, but some do lack breathability. 

However, Gales aren't your average nursing shoe.

Named after the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale, Gales was founded to give back to the healthcare community through innovation with Smart PPE Footwear™ technology, offering the highest level of affordability, safety, cleanability, comfort and style in its class. Common footwear worn in medical facilities puts our frontline nurses at risk, leaving 59 million providers exposed to infectious fluids and disease, so we led the charge to be the first to complete the bio-safe uniform. The best shoes for nurses are finally here. 


Working long shifts is hard enough, so we developed insoles with the leading medical grade insole manufacturers OrthoLite®, to create cushioning that lasts the entirety of a twelve hour shift. We paired this with patented XL Extralight® technology to create a shoe 3x lighter than comparable footwear, which combined, feels like walking on a cloud. 


We recognize that no two feet are the same. In fact, we studied thousands of them. Our shoes were developed to accommodate the most amount of feet shapes and sizes. The insoles provide 7mm of additional arch support, and are easily removable and replaceable. 


Gales are the only nursing shoe on the market with this level of antimicrobial protection. They feature patented antimicrobial technology (in the insoles AND outsoles) that continually resists microbe growth and provides built in protection from fungus, bacteria and odor. 


Mesh athletic shoes expose nurses' feet to any infectious fluids that may be spilled on them. Not to mention, wet shoes in general are very uncomfortable. Gales shoes are waterproof (or any other liquid-proof), yet breathable. They have two small holes on the side that are designed to let air flow in and out, but not fluids. 


Gales are also incredibly easy to clean. “Easy to clean” doesn’t mean just the tip of the shoe. Laces, seams, cracks, crevices and top facing perforations all absorb moisture, so we got rid of them all. Our outsoles can be wiped clean in seconds, and the insoles are machine washable, coming out virtually like new every time while maintaining all the comfort and performance benefits after washing.


Gales have firm-grip soles. Hospital floors can get slippery, so we made sure to extensively test our shoes to ensure the safety of the nurses who wear them, even when the treads get worn down. The larger-than-average treads also increase the ease of 360° cleanability. 


Gales are produced using clean solar energy and partially recycled materials, making them one of the only eco-friendly nursing shoes out there. The manufacturing, packing and shipping is all done in North America, which also cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions. Not only does Gales care about nurses, we care about the planet too. 


Nurses shouldn’t have to give up style for functionality, so we took a vast departure from clog style shoes and introduced a new silhouette that inspires confidence both inside and outside of the hospital. The most comfortable shoes for nurses are now the most stylish shoes for nurses too. 


Spending thousands of dollars on multiple pairs of work shoes every year didn't make sense to us so we cut our price nearly in half. Our in-house manufacturing process allows us to cut out the middlemen and third party suppliers, allowing us to pass those savings on to our customers directly. Cutting edge quality now comes at an affordable price of just $89.95.


Most importantly, Gales were crowdsource designed with healthcare professionals for healthcare professionals, because we realize no one knows what nurses need in a shoe better than nurses themselves do. In fact, 95%+ of nurses say they would recommend Gales.