When you work long hours or simply spend most of your day on your feet, you come to expect foot pain and discomfort as an inevitable consequence.
But, when this foot pain starts to interfere with how well you work and prevents you from going about your daily activities, you need a better solution that can protect your feet from the pain that results from standing for long hours.
When people start to feel pain or avoid certain activities, they often blame themselves, the activity, the intensity at which it was performed, or even the environment.
However, they tend to overlook the item that is directly related to their pain and that is the type of shoes they wear.
If you feel foot pain after spending long hours on your feet, start by looking at your shoes. Most probably, they are either too small and narrow, not designed with the necessary features to keep you pain-free, or both.
Why do your feet hurt after standing for a long time
Even when you stand still, your feet and leg muscles continue to work because they need to constantly adjust to the surface so that your body keeps its balance and stability.
This may surprise you, but standing still can actually be harder on the legs and feet than moving around or walking. Since the muscles never get a break - compared to walking, for example, where the muscles get some rest as the legs alternate - this specific muscle function can cause significant foot and leg fatigue.
In addition, when you stand in one spot for prolonged periods it interferes with the ability of the blood to move back up the legs after delivering oxygen to the feet. The blood starts to pool in the feet and lower legs, causing swelling and pressure on the tissues.
The strain on the muscles, swelling, and pressure on surrounding tissues are the reasons you feel pain after prolonged standing.
How to protect your feet while standing at work
There are a few tricks you can try to prevent or decrease the effects of prolonged standing.
- Shift your weight from one foot to the other to give your muscles some rest.
- Place one foot on a small stool and alternate your feet, to distribute the weight load on the legs.
- Wear compression socks to improve blood circulation in your feet and legs.
- Wear supportive shoes, preferably with orthotics, to help align the feet, legs, and body, so that the leg and foot muscles don’t have to work so hard.
How do you keep your feet from hurting when standing on concrete?
Concrete and other hard surfaces can put pressure on the foot and especially the plantar fascia - the ligament that supports the muscles and arch, and runs under the arch, connecting the heel bone with the base of the toes - causing it to swell, which can cause heel pain.
Throw in the painful effects of prolonged standing and you have the perfect recipe for significant foot and leg pain.
The problem with your current shoes
There can be several reasons why your current shoes aren’t providing the comfort you need for long days on your feet.
- They flex too much, or not in the right places. A shoe that flexes where the foot won't, or a foot that needs to flex where the shoe doesn’t, is a recipe for disaster in terms of both immediate and future foot problems. You need a shoe that flexes with your foot in all the right places, but not too much. If you can twist the shoe or do a 90-degree bend, then it probably doesn’t have enough support. A shoe that flexes in the right place supports the natural movement of the foot, making it easier to walk while providing adequate motion control.
- They are too rigid. Support is important, but a shoe that is too rigid in the sole or upper can lead to blisters, excessive swelling, bursitis and pain in the achilles tendon. A shoe that is rigid will make walking more difficult and overwork the joints and muscles, and that can ultimately lead to injuries. Flexibility and support are crucial.
- No orthotic footbed. Shoes with just a flat insert are not going to provide the necessary support and cushioning needed for long days on your feet. Only an orthopedic insole will support the arch and relieve potentially painful stress on the foot. Orthotic inserts will also align the body and help you stand (and walk) without your ankles and feet rolling inwards.
- Upper materials. Shoe uppers made from inadequate materials that don’t hold the foot in place, and ones that aren’t able to stretch with your foot, will only add more pressure to the feet and cause discomfort, pain, and potential foot problems. You need a shoe that is designed with materials that will provide stability but will also be flexible enough to accommodate swelling after long hours on your feet. Opt for flexible materials such as fabrics or soft leathers that will conform to your foot shape.
- The wrong width. A narrow width and pointy shape will cram your foot and especially your toes into a space that is just too small for them, meaning increased pressure on the feet. This can lead to bunions, hammertoes, corns, and calluses, and also aggravate existing foot conditions. When your toes don't sit in the proper position, they also don't function as they should, which translates to issues with gait (the way you walk). Shoes with a wide toe box that is also round in shape provide the most comfortable fit.
- Materials that don't promote breathability. If your shoes aren’t constructed from the right materials they won’t provide the adequate airflow your feet need and without that cooling effect, sweating becomes an issue. Sweaty feet can lead to odor, bacteria, and fungus, which can aggravate and contribute to future foot issues. Shoes that breathe are critical for long hours spent on your feet, both for foot health and comfort at the moment.
What are the best shoes for standing on your feet all day?
Here are the design features you should look for in shoes that are recommended for people who stand all day.
- Orthotic support is crucial for protecting your feet from long hours spent standing. Orthotic insoles support the arch, cradle the heel and provide the best chances for keeping your feet in line with the rest of the body. Basically, with the right orthotic support, you will feel like you’re standing on a cloud, even when the surface under your feet is concrete. They also guarantee a comfortable fit, but most importantly will prevent injuries and new foot conditions from developing.
- Superior cushioning made from unique materials that provide the very best shock absorption and comfort. This includes insoles made from foam that conforms to your foot shape for a truly customized fit and comfort. The placement of the materials is also important, with more cushioning needed in the heel and around the metatarsal heads.
- Upper materials that stretch are an important feature because they provide the necessary give when your feet swell while relieving any further pressure on the foot. Supple leather is also a good material to look for in a shoe, as it provides more stability and durability.
- Shoes with soles designed to facilitate foot motion. A minimal heel-to-toe drop and mild rocker soles are the best, as they prevent the transfer of weight to the forefoot area, which can cause pressure on the foot.
- Adjustability. Why? A truly comfortable fit depends on finding the right shoe for your foot size, width, and shape. No two feet are the same! Shoes with adjustable features from hook and loop straps, to laces, bungee cords, and zippers allow the wearer to adjust the fit of the shoe to their particular needs, while also ensuring a secure fit and stability.
- Wide widths are geared for people with feet that are not the standard medium (B), which is what most footwear companies manufacture. Having a choice in width availability ensures the wearer finds a shoe that fits their foot shape the best. Only shoes that come in varying widths can do this. Wide widths are also helpful when it comes to preventing swelling in the feet.
With that in mind, here is our list of the best 7 shoes for prolonged standing. They are all designed with the features listed above, yet each shoe has its own unique qualities.
Best Sneakers for Standing All day
Their highlight stretch uppers are perfect for long days on your feet, as both shoes stretch and really take the shape of your foot, accommodating potential foot swelling, as well as large bunions and hammertoes.
The fabric uppers coupled with the soft, ultra-padded interiors, which are also seam free, make them comfortable for a long day spent standing and perfect for sensitive feet.
These shoes can fit almost any size and foot shape, as they are available from a medium to extra extra wide width (6E for men, 4E for women).
If you need to free up even more room to insert a custom orthotic or braces, the insole can be removed easily.
They are available in plenty of colors to suit any season and outfit.
Best Working Boots
The upper is designed with waterproof leather , sealed seams and a gusseted tongue to prevent any liquids from seeping in, while the rubber outsole is slip resistant even on oily surfaces. There is even a neat ladder grab feature on the sole with notches that help catch ladder steps for greater stability.
These shoes are also impact, compression and electrical hazard resistant.
Available in widths ranging from Standard (D) to Extra Wide.
Best shoes for standing all day on concrete
The waterproof uppers of the Moravia women’s shoes make sure your feet are dry, while the extra roomy toe box will allow your toes to spread out comfortably.
The men’s Cobalt work shoes are also constructed with a durable upper, made from non-abrasive high density fabric to take you through the toughest and messiest days on your feet
Similar to Moravia, the Cobalt boots also have a roomy toe box, with the added feature of composite safety toe to protect your feet.
Although they have increased safety features, they are super lightweight compared to others, thanks to the unique materials and ergonomic rocker bottom sole. The rubber outsole of the Cobalt work boots is slip resistant, while the outsole of the Moravia shoe offers advanced grip and superior stability.
Both shoes are designed with a cushioning insole that works wonders to reduce fatigue and alleviate stress on your feet and legs. In addition, the soft, seam free padded interiors in both styles will eliminate any irritation and feel comfortable against the skin.
The shoes are available in widths ranging from Medium to Extra Wide.
Best Shoes for Nurses
For a healthcare professional that stands all day, the right shoes can make all the difference between a good shift and an unbearable one.
To start, the no-tie bungee lace closure of the men’s Lava and women’s Francis sneakers is both fully adjustable and allows you to slip in and out of them easily and quickly.
Both shoes are constructed with a special rubber sole and tread design that provides increased traction and grip on any surface, which is extremely important for settings that deal with spilling liquids.
Thanks to their unique materials, both shoes are breathable and allow air flow to circulate and keep your feet healthy, while the removable orthotic insole is made with a breathable, soft top cover that wicks away moisture.
The air pocket under the heel and foam cushioning under the foot will make you feel like you're walking (or standing) on a cloud.
And finally, both shoes are designed with a lightweight ergonomic sole that makes them super light on your feet.
Available in extended widths ranging from narrow up to extra extra wide.