Is It Better to Go with Clogs or Sneakers for a 12-Hour Shift?

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As a nurse, you’re going to spend a ton of hours on your feet — and all of that activity is sure to add up to some tired legs and sore toes. Nursing professionals are wise to invest in quality shoes that will keep their feet fully protected and supported throughout the busiest of shifts, but which type is best for you?

We’re taking a look at two of the most popular footwear choices for nurses — sneakers and clogs — to see which one is better for your specific needs.

What to Look for in Nursing Shoes

When it comes to nursing shoes, there are countless options to choose from and lots of features to consider. Clogs and sneakers can both provide unique benefits, from practical features like comfortable insoles and ankle support to their overall styling versatility.

Before you purchase your footwear of choice, you’ll want to keep all of the following considerations in mind:

  • Cushioned insoles: Insoles provide your feet with cushioning and arch support, which is especially important for shock absorption when you’re walking on hard surfaces all day long.
  • Foot support: It’s crucial to choose a shoe that offers good foot support, because it translates into leg and back support. The right footwear can improve your stability, as well, which directly impacts your ability to lift heavy objects and decreases your chances of accidents and injuries.
  • Slip resistance: Another important footwear consideration is slip resistance. Go for soles that are designed to grip slippery surfaces to help prevent falls.
  • Foot protection: One often overlooked aspect of nursing footwear is the shoe’s ability to protect your feet from potential job hazards. If you work with heavy medical equipment and machinery or regularly lift patients, having a protective shoe is a must.
  • Comfort: Wearing the right nursing shoes can make or break your day-to-day comfort. Choose designs that are made for your specific foot type, and look for features (like lace-free entries and cushioned tongues) that go the extra mile.
  • Style: Finally, let’s not forget that these are shoes that we’re talking about, so style is most certainly a factor. Neutral hues like black and white give you maximum styling possibilities, while colorful designs let you showcase your personality.

Benefits of Sneakers

When you picture comfortable footwear, sneakers are probably the first shoes to enter your mind. These athletic designs are made to keep your feet comfortable while exercising — which is perfect for nurses, who definitely get their fair share of cardio throughout their daily shifts.

Sneakers are also ideal for keeping your feet and ankles thoroughly supported and protected, and their thick soles are constructed to absorb the steady shock of walking on hard surfaces like those found in modern healthcare facilities.

Today’s athletic shoes are oftentimes made with lightweight, breathable materials like memory foam for enhanced flexibility and all-day comfort, and many styles include laceless or slip-on entries for the nurse on the go who hates having to tie her shoes 20 times per shift.

As a general guideline, look for the following design features:

  • Ankle support
  • Memory foam insole
  • Slip-on entry
  • Outer sole with grip
  • Breathable materials
  • Lightweight feel
  • Cushioned tongue
  • Flexibility

Benefits of Clogs

When new nurses enter the field, they’re oftentimes surprised to learn that their co-workers rely on clogs to survive long, strenuous shifts. This popular style rivals sneakers thanks to arch and heel support, protective shells and overall comfort.

Clogs come in a wide range of shapes and designs, but they all feature a closed toe for added protection. You can choose from an open-back design with an optional rear strap that prevents the shoe from slipping off your foot, or you can opt for a closed back that’s more similar to a traditional sneaker.

These shoes are typically made with slip-resistant soles for added stability, and many feature reinforced toes, arch support and waterproof materials like resin to keep your feet safe and comfortable all day long.

Some clogs are even made with stain-proof coatings that keep your shoes looking their best regardless of chemical and liquid spills.

Choose clogs that are made with the following design features:

  • Arch, heel and ankle support
  • Waterproof materials
  • Stain-resistant coating
  • Reinforced toes
  • Padded footbed
  • A lifted back or rear strap

Lace-up sneakers place unnecessary pressure on the top of the foot, which can lead to discomfort and pain. A good pair of clogs will provide ankle support and fit the foot properly to minimize stress on the feet, back and knees.

Special Considerations

Consider compression socks.
Active nurses should definitely think about adding high-quality compression socks to their everyday uniform — and not just because they look cute with your clogs. Compression socks improve circulation throughout your legs while helping to support your feet, ankles and calves.
These smart accessories can even prevent and reduce common issues like swelling and varicose veins.

Take consistent breaks.
Your feet are bound to get tired over the course of your hectic shifts, and it’s critical to take advantage of your regular breaks. Not only do these time-outs help you decompress and re-focus, but they also take pressure off your ankles and joints.

Small breaks ultimately lead to big changes in your overall comfort and can result in less foot, leg and back pain.

Treat your feet.
Pamper yourself by soaking your feet in Epsom salts, essential oils and hot water after particularly rough days. This foot treatment can reduce blisters and swelling, and it even improves your blood circulation while soothing achy muscles.

Stretch it out.

Stretching before, during and after your shifts can make a huge difference in how your legs and feet feel. Stretching exercises not only strengthen the primary and supportive muscles of your body, but they can directly improve your posture and reduce the likelihood of job-related injuries.

Buy gel inserts.
Uncomfortable arches? Customize your shoes to address this common problem by adding gel inserts to the shoe’s footbed. These supportive inserts reduce the gap between the insole and your arch, helping to ease discomfort throughout the day.

See a specialist.
If you’re currently experiencing recurring foot pain, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist. These specialists can diagnose and treat abnormalities that lead to discomfort, and they can also make recommendations when it comes to the best footwear for your specific needs.

Do you prefer to wear sneakers or clogs on your 12-hour shifts, and what pros and cons do you see with both options? Let us know your favorite nursing footwear in the comments section below, and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to stay up-to-date on our latest shoe collections!v

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