Standing is the opposite of running; the latter is an athletic activity involving dynamic movement, and the other is about being confined to a small area. But it is much harder than it seems – especially when you’re on your feet for the entire day.
People working in retail know this, and so do others employed in hospitals and restaurants. Jobs that involve standing and walking put an enormous amount of stress on your feet. Just take a moment to think of it; the entire body weight rests on the feet over a period that could last anywhere between 6 – 14 hours.
Many ER personnel/doctors/nurses regularly work 12-hour shifts. If this is done wearing regular shoes, the experience can quickly turn unpleasant. The sole feels tired and strained; you can’t wait to get home and take your shoes off.
Even shorter shifts of 6 – 8 hours are tiresome. Solereview frequently receives footwear questions from readers employed in the medical and retail industry.
When choosing a pair of shoes for being on your feet all day, there are a few design attributes to look for. If this sounds somewhat similar to our walking shoe guide, then that’s because both walking and standing have shared design needs.
1) The outsole design should preferably be wide and flat: An outsole with full ground contact is important as it helps spread the pressure in an even manner. Over a prolonged period of standing, protruding outsole lugs can eventually end up becoming a source of discomfort.
2) The midsole should be cushioned: You need a comfortable shoe if you’re going to be standing all day. Also, both the forefoot and heel should have ample cushioning because you will constantly transfer weight between the heel and the ball of the foot.
3) A spacious upper for foot splay: A narrow-fitting shoe can be torturous during long hours of standing, so you need a shoe with an accommodating interior.
4) Good grip for smooth artificial floors: Most jobs that involve standing are located indoors with artificial floors. So the outsole needs to have good traction. Shoes like the Brooks Addiction Walker 2 (featured here) have certified slip-resistant.
Do running shoes check all the boxes for standing all day? It depends.
In our opinion, most running shoes do OK for standing – only if it is for 6-8 hours. People working in sporting goods stores fall under this category, where the shifts are relatively shorter. In some cases, sporting goods store employees get to choose a product to be a part of their uniform, so it makes sense to get a running shoe.
Anything longer than 6-8 hour shifts, and you’d want to adopt a different footwear strategy. We say this for a couple of reasons.
Most running shoe outsoles have rubber lugs and grooved separations that apply pressure from underneath. This isn’t an issue for a few hours but tends to manifest itself over a longer period.
The narrow waist of a running shoe is also a limiting factor. The midsole is slim around the middle, and that translates into a conforming upper fit. Running shoes are built this way for a reason, because the foot needs to be locked down during runs. But the same snugness that benefits running may become detrimental to comfort during 12+ hours shifts.
Also, there may be other footwear requirements based on the place of employment. For example:
1) Plain colors: If the workplace atmosphere is formal, then conspicuously colorful running shoes may not be acceptable.
Many running shoes nowadays have more hues than a sprinkled donut, making them unsuitable for formal settings. Hence, plainer colors like all-white or all-black are desirable. The second part of this guide addresses such aesthetic needs.
But this is merely a suggestion rather than a non-negotiable. In more informal workplace settings, the color of the shoe is the last thing anyone cares about.
2) Maintenance-friendly design: Some jobs that require standing all day happen to be in the restaurant business, and the shoe is likely to come in contact with spilled liquids and such. So a mesh upper won’t cut it, but rather fully covered leather uppers that are easier to wipe clean. Most running shoes do not fit this description.
3) Non-marking outsoles: Certain workplaces require footwear to be non-marking. This is the property of outsoles that leave no black skid/scuff marks on the floor. If the shoes that are a part of your uniform possess non-marking outsoles, then you must find an appropriate replacement. Most running shoes do not have non-marking outsoles.
As you can see, finding a shoe that is comfortable for all-day standing isn’t as straightforward as it sounds.
Considering the number of variables involved, we’ve compiled two recommendation lists. The shoes are arranged in alphabetical order, with our top two picks being the adidas UltraBoost 21 and Nike ZoomX Invincible.
Best running shoes for standing all day: Running shoes
1) adidas UltraBoost 21
The full-length Boost midsole made the Ultraboost a great standing-friendly shoe in the past. For 2021, it gets even better.
The Ultraboost 21 has a wider and higher-volume Boost than the 19 and 20, so that translates into a higher level of underfoot comfort. The wide base makes it supportive; the stability is also helped by the plastic heel clip and the redesigned Torsion shank that makes the midsole stiffer.
If you’re wide-footed, you might want to first try before buying. The upper is stiffer than the Ultraboost 20 due to the plastic midfoot panels, and the forefoot/toe-box has a snug fit.
The Boost is made of expanded Polyurethane, so it is resistant to temperature changes (in freezing winters, for example) and lasts a long time.
2) Asics Gel-Kayano Lite
Unlike the adidas Ultraboost, the Asics Kayano Lite isn’t an overly soft shoe. In lieu, the wide midsole provides a cushioned yet very supportive foundation to spend many hours on. If you’re interested, read our full review.
The full-length Flytefoam midsole and the soft insole work together to deliver a soft top layer and a comfortable base for the foot to rest on. And if you’re wondering how it compares to the standard Kayano 27, here’s the answer: the Lite version is a softer shoe with a smoother ride.
The upper is spacious and plush. The plump heel and tongue grip the foot in comfort, and the roomy forefoot allows the toes to splay while standing.
3) Asics Gel-Cumulus 22
Often seen as the toned-down version of the Asics Gel Nimbus, the Cumulus is a popular shoe with runners and walkers.
Version 22 in particular, is one of the nicest Cumulus models. The midsole has a soft and cushy feel that results in excellent under-the-foot comfort. That’s useful when being on the feet for prolonged periods.
The upper isn’t full of bells and whistles, but it is comfortable with a true-to-size fit. The Cumulus relies on a classic formula that works. Which is: take a comfortable midsole with a neutral character, and then glue it to a smooth-fitting upper with an accommodating fit.
4) Nike ZoomX Invincible Run
Are you looking for a shoe that’s even softer than the adidas Ultraboost 21, lighter, and with more room inside the upper?
We recommend the Nike ZoomX Invincible Run. Nike’s lightweight ZoomX foam is molded into an extremely high-volume midsole for maximum comfort. The midsole is also very wide through the heel and forefoot, so the softness doesn’t come at the cost of stability.
The cushioned and supportive platform makes the Invincible an excellent shoe for spending long hours on. The fully-sleeved upper is also comfortable; the padded heel and tongue keep the foot locked in.
A single piece of rubber makes up the outsole, and the surface has a dense colony of lugs for grip.
5) Mizuno Wave Sky Waveknit 4
Several design features make the Wave Sky Waveknit 4 the ideal standing shoe. Though the midsole no longer has the rigid ‘Wave’ plate, the ride is still very supportive. And cushioned too.
Instead of the stiff insert, the Wave Sky 4 has a dual-density midsole with a PU layer. With this set-up, one gets a cushy layer that makes all-day wearing a pleasant experience.
The knit upper fits smooth on the inside while keeping the foot securely locked down. If you already own a pair of the previous generation Waveknit 3, there’s little need to upgrade to the V4. Both the models share the same midsole.
7) New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 V11
Over the last couple of years, the New Balance 1080 started delivering what it had originally advertised – an ultra-cushioned and smooth ride. Not to say that the versions before the V9 were bad, but they lacked the oh-so-cushy experience that Fresh Foam promised.
The V10 was a plush shoe, and so is the Fresh Foam 1080V11. The high-volume midsole is soft and deeply cushioned – traits that make standing on the feet less punishing. The outsole uses blown rubber under the forefoot, so it blends with the midsole instead of acting as a hard, resistant layer.
The knit upper is very comfortable. The toe-box mesh is soft, and so are the semi-stretchy laces. The sleeved tongue helps achieve a secure midfoot fit.
Just in case the standard width doesn’t fit, the 1080V11 runs in three additional widths, ranging from a narrow to an extra-wide.
8) Saucony Triumph 18
One of the things that we didn’t like about the Triumph 17 was its ultra-snug forefoot. That was due to the toe-box construction and the overly plush heel that nudged the foot forward.
The 18th version makes amends, and updates the upper with a (more) accommodating toe-box and toned-down collar. In short, the interiors are plush and secure-fitting.
The Pwrrun+ midsole made the Triumph 17 a great standing shoe, and it’s a similar story for the 2020 model.
The expanded Polyurethane foam makes the midsole ideal for extended periods of weight-bearing. There’s softness and responsiveness in equal measures, all without compromising durability. The PU compound is highly resistant to fatigue, so this shoe will last for a very long time.
9) Brooks Glycerin 19
The same qualities that put the Glycerin 18 on this buyer’s guide last year earn the Glycerin 19 a spot too.
Brooks uses DNA Loft for its midsole, an EVA-blend foam that hits the sweet spot between all-day comfort and ride stability. The removable insole and the foam lasting serve as layers of step-in softness.
Unlike the others on this list – say, the adidas UltraBoost or New Balance 1080V11 for example – the Glycerin 19’s cushioning isn’t very soft. However, multi-hour comfort is available in spades, and there’s even a plush upper to match.
Outsole rubber is used liberally to cover the bottom, a design choice that results in great traction over most artificial surfaces.
10) Hoka Clifton 7
It was about time a Hoka shoe made it to this list. That product is the Clifton 7. Over the years, this popular model has managed to work out its small flaws, and what we have today is a polished Clifton. Nearly perfect, even. (Related read: Our detailed take on this shoe)
In the context of this guide, that means that the shoe has lots of supportive cushioning under the foot. The tall foam stack gives it an almost ‘endless cushioning’ feel; one that doesn’t ‘bottom’ out after many hours of weight-loading.
Simultaneously, the wide midsole creates a stable platform for the foot to rest on. The entire cushioning experience is made better by the roomy, breathable, and smooth upper fit. The broad toe-box and forefoot are generously proportioned in case the foot swells after many hours of standing.
Other comfortable shoes for standing on your feet all day: (Non-running, ‘safe’ colors)
1) Nike Monarch IV
1) Nike Monarch IV
The Monarch IV is one of Nike’s best-selling shoes and it’s easy to see why. A full-length Air bag offers ample cushioning while the outer midsole is firm and supportive. The rubber outsole is durable and grips well without leaving marks.
The upper is robustly build and is offered in either an all-leather or mesh-leather combination. And let’s not forget the Monarch’s phenomenal value-for-money proposition.
The workplace-safe color(s) is another thing that the Monarch has going for it.
2) Brooks Addiction Walker 2
Though we preferred the original Addiction Walker due to its ‘Hydroflow’ cushioning system, the V2 is also a safe and dependable choice of footwear for standing all day.
Unlike the (more) colorful shoes on this guide, the Brooks Addiction Walker 2 is available in muted and solid colors that make it workplace space. You have the choice of either a black or white – that’s as conservative as it gets.
The smooth leather upper makes it easy to wipe down the shoe while keeping the foot warm in colder weather or air-conditioned confines.
The firm ride makes the shoe very stable; the evidence in the shoe’s 14.5-ounces (411 gram) weight. Making the shoe heavy is also the thick outsole that completely covers the sole.
The outsole is also certified slip-resistant, so the Addiction Walker 2 is a good pick for those who work in sectors like retail, hospitality, or healthcare.
3) Saucony Omni Walker 3
Just like the Brooks Addiction Walker, the Saucony Omni Walker 2 is offered in a plethora of color choices; that’s a black and white fact.
The all-white and all-black leather upper makes wipe-downs easy. Underneath is a supportive midsole that runs softer than the Brooks shoe. At 13-ounces, the Omni is also ‘lighter’ than Brooks and has a lower retail price that makes it excellent value for money.
The V3 may not have the original ‘Grid’ cassette cushioning system, but it’s comfortable enough for standing all day.
The mostly-leather upper fits securely and has decent levels of plushness. The Omni Walker 3 sells in a wide too.