Ask The Experts

I have a new job where I stand most of my ten hour shift. What type of shoes are best for standing?

Thank you for contacting IPFH. We do not provide medical diagnoses or treatment recommendations on line. We can provide some information that can help you choose the footwear that will be best for you, but for the best end result we would suggest that your selection of footwear be done in consultation with your physician or a foot health professional. Many occupations require extended time standing or moving around on the feet. What we know is that standing still is harder on the lower limbs than moving around, because when you stand your legs and feet must provide constant support. The muscles must make very small, continuous adjustments for you to keep your balance. This tires the legs. In addition, when you stand still for extended periods, the heart has more difficulty pumping blood efficiently from your feet back up the length of your body, which often leads to swelling in the feet and lower legs. This is in contrast to walking or moving around, in which the muscle activity helps the heart work more effectively.

IPFH recommends the use of padded socks, or clinically tested padded socks, which have been shown to reduce pressure, blisters and pain, and to help manage moisture generated when the feet sweat. Many people who work on their feet for extended periods of time also may choose support or compression hosiery. Such hosiery helps move the blood back up the legs. For reference, here is a very informative article from the Canadian Medical Association Journal about compression and support hosiery: There are some good references for patients/consumers at the end of the article.

As far as the best shoes are concerned, there is much discussion among experts, and we are not aware that there is a consensus among them as to which type or brand is best. What they do tend to agree on is that the best is what provides you comfort. For some people this may be a minimalist shoe, and for others it might be something with more padding. The best advice we can provide, as we mentioned, is for you to consult your physician or a foot health specialist, who can help you get started in the right direction based on your foot anatomy and knowledge of your overall physical condition. You might experiment with different types or brands to see which provides the most comfort for you. You should also check with your employer to find out if there are any requirements for safety footwear (for example, safety toes or other protective features). We do know that proper fit is always important, and there are some general characteristics of footwear that we recommend. You can find these in our article “Integrated Approach to Selecting Padded Socks and Shoes that Fit.” One last recommendation – when you are on the job, although your work may require you to be stationary, take advantage of every opportunity to move around, and to sit and rest for short periods as the job allows. We hope this information is helpful, and we wish you the best in your new job.

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