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.
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 it 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 no particular order.
Best running shoes for standing all day: Running shoes
1) adidas UltraBoost 20
A few things make the UltraBoost 20 an excellent shoe for spending time on your feet.
The high-volume Boost foam midsole is supported by a large, unbroken outsole of Continental rubber outsole. This design results in a cushioned platform that is comfortable through long hours and doesn’t bottom out. The full-coverage outsole geometry helps spread the body-weight evenly without pressure points.
The UltraBoost 20’s upper is the most comfortable to date. The stretch upper fits securely without feeling overly narrow, while the soft heel lining keeps the foot locked in.
Out of all the UltraBoost versions we’ve seen so far, we like this midfoot panel design the best. Instead of firm Urethane, the midfoot uses soft rubber-like overlays that provide support without any hot-spots. If you liked the UltraBoost 19, then you’ll love the 20.
2) Asics Gel-Nimbus 23
The Nimbus 23’s just-right softness is ideal for spending long hours on. Most of the midsole is single-density Flytefoam, so the foam underneath feels smooth and consistent when loaded.
The flared sidewalls and the plastic shank also gives the Nimbus a supportive character – something that becomes necessary for multi-hour use. The outsole is generously articulated, so it allows the soft midsole to splay without getting in its way.
And what’s a comfortable midsole without an equally comfortable upper? Since this is a Nimbus we’re talking about, there’s plenty of interior comfort. The padded heel and tongue add plushness while securing the foot, whereas the single piece mesh eliminates any potential pressure spots.
3) Asics Gel-Cumulus 22
Often seen as the toned-down version of the Asics Gel Nimbus (above), 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 Air Zoom Vomero 5 SE
The Nike Vomero 5 is back again on this list after being omitted in the March update of this article. Admittedly, the Crimson color is a bit wacky. But if you can look past that, this is a solid pick as a standing shoe.
This ‘vintage’ Vomero’s credentials were re-affirmed when Nike re-released a 2008 model more than a decade later. When Solereview reviewed the Vomero 3, it was the standard-bearer for upper and ride comfort. The Vomero 5 is very similar to the V3; traditional upper materials such as the spongy spacer mesh, plush heel lining, and soft-touch laces make the Vomero 5 a delightful shoe for everyday use.
The midsole has a very old-school construction. Nike combines its soft EVA foam (Cushlon) with Zoom Air and other elements like a plastic shank and heel crash pad.
The result is a shoe that feels very comfortable when loaded. The Zoom Air bag produces an engaging responsive feel whereas the dual-density foam adds lots of all-day cushioning and stability.
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.
6) New Balance FuelCell Propel 2
While we prefer the original FuelCell Propel due to its abundance of forefoot room and hyper-breezy upper, the updated Propel V2 is also a good substitute.
With its new engineered mesh upper, the fit ends being more secure – in a good way. The upper still breathes well and the lack of inner seams means that one doesn’t have to worry about annoying bumps. An optional ‘wide’ sizing is available for more interior space.
Underneath, the foam midsole (named the Fuelcell) has a similar softness to the Propel V1. Thus, the comfort levels are comparable and co-exist with a supportive base – courtesy of the flared midsole.
The outsole is generously covered with rubber, so there’s plenty of grip and support over most surfaces.
7) New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 V10
Often, a thick stack of soft and responsive foam under your foot is all that one needs – particularly when you’re standing in one spot for many hours.
From a comfort standpoint, the 1080V10 is an improvement over the V9. The new Fresh Foam X midsole is softer than before; the split outsole helps too. So no matter where (or how) you shift your body weight, the deep cushioning is effective at combating fatigue.
The toe-box is extremely comfortable. The mesh is soft, and there’s plenty of interior space; just the perfect thing when your feet are spending a lot of time inside the 1080.
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 18
If you already have the Glycerin 17, then upgrading seems unnecessary. The 18 gets a new brand midsole and a redesigned upper but under all the cosmetic changes, it’s the same shoe.
Just like the 17, the full-length DNA Loft midsole produces a comfortable base for the feet to rest on. The softness levels are right where they need to be – neither too soft nor too firm.
This cushioning balance gives the midsole enough structure to support the body-weight over longer periods. The molded insole adds the obligatory layer of step-in comfort.
And just like the 17, the Glycerin 18’s upper is plush and smooth on the inside with a true-to-size fit profile.
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.
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
The Brooks Addiction works great for a lot of jobs where you’re on your feet. There’s a choice of either a brown Nubuck upper or all-white and black milled-leather versions with midsoles to match.
The ultra-wide outsole has a full-contact geometry. The Addiction is the only Brooks shoe (we know of) that still uses ‘Hydroflow’ – an 80’s cushioning technology that uses fluid-filled pouches inside the midsole.
It is available in four optional widths and three colors. And just in case you’re interested, the Addiction Walker 2 is also out in the market.
3) Saucony Omni Walker
The Omni Walker uses the original Saucony Grid system together with a dual-density foam midsole for cushioning. The upper uses 100% old-school materials and construction techniques, and the results are good.
The garment leather upper and padded lining creates a cozy interior. The Omni Walker sells only in plain colors should your work environment require that.
The rubber outsole is a non-marking kind and is safe for streak-prone floors.