Runners VS “Nursing” Shoes

(RealNewNurse) If there is one thing that I have noticed nurses are highly opinionated about it’s what they wear in their feet. Talk to any nurse and eventually the conversation will inevitably turn to what shoes they are wearing and how fabulous they are, guaranteed. Don’t believe me? Go ask a nurse to recommend you a brand of shoes in front of the nursing station and then step back and watch the debate rage.
Personally I have always worn runners, not because I particularly like them, I don’t think anyone with any fashion sense can say they really like runners, but because it was always easy to find cheap, white runners that could pass dress code in school. I had briefly looked at a pair of white leather clogs but the price was a huge deterrent for a starving student. I have continued wearing my white runners only because I really haven’t had the time to indulge in a proper shoe shopping trip to a store that carried a variety of “nursing shoes”.
Saturday ended that excuse. I made a trip to my local scrub store for the first time since being hired. I have been living off two sets of scrubs and finally got tired of waking up to bad dreams that my scrubs were not dry in the evening. I picked up another set of the same navy blue scrubs that have become my staple, a couple pairs of socks and then I spied it, the clearance table! I saw a sweet pair of mary jane styled Dansko clogs in brown, on sale, in my size. I hummed and hawed until Mr. took a look at the price $30.00, he silently picked them up and added them to my pile. When I began to protest he simply said, “You make a living off being on your feet, may as well be good to them.” Have I ever mentioned that when shopping with Mr I tend to leave with WAY more stuff then intended?
So now I own both a pair of runners and a pair of “nursing shoes” having worn both, let me be true to nursing nature and tell you all about what I wear on my feet.
Let’s start with the caveat that all runners are not…well runners. Call them what you will sneakers, running shoes, athletic shoes, whatever we all have a pair in our wardrobe and most of wish there was some way to incorporate they comfort they afford into a much more stylish appearance. Back to my point. Not all runners are made the same, if you go for a walk down your local shoe department you will note that there are a number of different categories, cross trainers, walking shoes and running shoes. So whats the difference?
  • Running shoes are made for, well running. This means the shoes are designed to cushion the shock of feet pounding as you run. What this means for you is that a running shoe will have more cushioning in the heels then other styles of athletic shoes, you may also notice that many brands of running shoes have extra cushioning in the soles as well. Some people find the built up heel to impede the roll through of the natural walking motion.
  • Cross Trainers are kind of your multi-purpose athletic shoe. The ankles come up higher to provide more support around the ankle, which can tend to roll. You can run for short distances in these, but don’t make a habit out of it as your heels may start to notice it as there may be some cushioning there but not the amount needed to take the force produced from running. These are your jack of all trade kind of shoe that you often see at the gym.
  • Walking shoes have the most flexible soles of the three types. This is to promote the natural roll through motion of your foot. This also means that they have the thinnest soles and the least cushioning, also making them the lightest and often the most breathable.
If you haven’t found a pair of runners that work for you don’t despair! Try on a number of different styles and types of runners you may find that while Cross Trainers don’t work walking shoes do. I have found that true running shoes work the best for me as I have a tenancy to walk very heel to toe and need the cushioning.
Nursing shoes have in the past had a bad rap as being ugly, thick, unwieldy looking clod hoppers of shoes, but lately companies have been trying to move away from that stereotype. There are a huge number of manufacturers now making “nursing shoes” Dansko, Crocs, Allegria, and Nurse Mates just to name a few.
What most of these shoes have in common is a solid construction in the sole of the shoe and a firm built up arch support. My Dansko’s are no exception to this rule, the arch support is quite firm and the foot bed has very little give to it, very unlike my runners. Nursing shoes have thick soles for support, they are there to provide as barrier between your feet and the hard, hard floors, creating a thick layer to absorb the pressure of standing on your feet all day and redistribute it.
Nursing shoes are also designed with the thought that you are NOT going to running a marathon in them, but instead putting lots of time in standing or walking and give your arches the support needed to put up with that for 12 hours a day.
While there is more and more though going into the look of nursing shoes you will notice that all of them save for Crocs are solid design. This is mainly due to the thought that nurses deal with a number of hazards in a shift including bodily fluids and falling sharp objects. The thick, solid leather is designed to save your feet from all such hazards, where many runners have mesh insets to allow feet to breath.
In the end there is no one who can really help you make a decision as to what is “best” to wear to work. That depends on you and your feet, but here are a few tips that can help.
  • Try on a number of different styles including the ones that you don’t think will work. Experimentation can often lead to the best shoes you ever met
  • Keep in mind that the weight of the shoe can affect your feet, knees and hips.
  • Think about where you work, if you are running, literally, all night then perhaps backless shoes are not the best idea.
  • You know you best. If a pair of shoes just feels bad, don’t convince yourself they will feel better after 12 hours on your feet.
  • Don’t be afraid to take your time, let the sales person huff and look pointedly at the clock all they want. Make it all about you for once!

The best piece of advice I got was from a former instructor, she told me that she never wears the same pair of shoes two nights in a row. She often swaps between runners, nursing shoes and Cros depending on how she felt and what her night looked like. She even kept a second pair of shoes in her bag at work in case things changed.

I guess Mr is right, we make a living on our feet, it’s best we take care of them. Call it protecting an investment!