(This list has been updated for 2018.)
Here’s an oxymoron if ever there was one.
Standing is the opposite of running; the latter involves movement, and the other is all about staying still in one spot. But it is much harder than it appears, especially when you’re on your feet the entire day.
People working in retail know this, and so do others employed in hospitals and hotels. Jobs which involves 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 which could be anywhere between 6 – 14 hours a day.
Many ER personnel/doctors/nurses regularly work 12-hour shifts, and if this is done wearing regular shoes, the experience can quickly become unpleasant. The sole feels tired and strained, and you can’t wait to get home and take your shoes off.
Even shorter shifts of 6 – 8 hours are tiresome. In the past, solereview has received numerous footwear recommendation questions from readers employed in the medical and retail industry.
When choosing a pair of shoe for being on your feet all day, there are a few desirable 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 possess adequate cushioning: 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 ball of the foot and the heel.
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 enough splay room for your feet.
4) Good grip for smooth artificial floors: Most jobs which involve standing are located indoors with artificial floors. So it is important for the shoe to meet the bare minimum requirements for grip.
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 (under a certain value) to be a part of their uniform, (or receive employee discounts) 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 which apply pressure from underneath. This isn’t an issue for a few hours but tends to manifest itself over a longer period.
The other limitation is the narrow waist of the running shoe. The midsole is slim around the middle, which translates into a conforming upper fit. Running shoes are built this way for a good reason, because the foot needs to be locked down during runs. But the same snugness which benefits running might be detrimental to the shoe’s comfort during 12+ hours shifts.
And there might be additional footwear requirements based on the place of employment. For instance:
1) Plain colors: If the workplace atmosphere is formal (hospitals and hotels) then conspicuously colorful running shoes could be a problem.
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 might be desirable.
2) Maintenance friendly design: Some jobs which require standing all day happen to be in the restaurant business, and the shoe is likely to come in contact with spilled liquids and the like. So a mesh upper won’t cut it, but rather fully covered leather uppers which are easier to wipe clean. Most running shoes do not fit this description.
3) Non-marking outsoles: Certain workplaces require a footwear to be non-marking; this is the property of certain outsoles which leave no black skid/scuff marks on smooth flooring. If the original footwear which you got as the part of your workplace uniform (if applicable) had non-marking outsoles, then it is important that you find an appropriate replacement. Most running shoes do not have non-marking outsoles.
As you can see, finding a shoe which is comfortable for all-day standing isn’t as simple as it sounds.
Considering the number of variables involved, we’ve compiled two recommendation lists. One is a list of running shoes, and another has a couple of walking shoes.
Best running shoes for standing all day: (6-8 hours)
1) adidas Ultra Boost ST
In a deviation from the regular Ultra Boost, the ST version has plenty of interior upper room for splay. Below, the large volume Boost midsole makes standing for long hours comfortable.
2) Nike Epic React Flyknit
The Epic React has an SEBS (synthetic rubber) based foam instead of EVA. This new midsole material provides plenty of all-day cushioning without bottoming out and has an excellent grip on synthetic floors.
The outsole is mostly foam in a full-contact set-up which evenly disperses the body weight. The Flyknit upper isn’t for everyone, so a fit trial is recommended before you purchase.
3) Nike Vomero 13 (Preferably in wide)
The Vomero 13’s upper fits narrow, so you should consider getting either the wide (2E) or extra wide (4E).
The midsole relies on dual Zoom Air bags to deliver cushioning, and the soft blown rubber outsole provides all-day comfort.
4) Saucony Echelon LE2
This isn’t a pure-performance running shoe, but rather a running-walking hybrid.
It’s basically an Echelon 4 midsole and outsole retrofitted with an all leather upper. Available in all black and white-grey.
5) Skechers GoRun MaxRoad Ultra 3
The Max Road Ultra 3 packs bottomless midsole cushioning under a comfortable knit upper at a reasonable price.
This Skechers shoe is the only one on the list with a perforated (vented) insole placed over a midsole with drainage holes. So if you’re standing all day in hot and humid conditions, then the Ultra 3 should definitely be on your list.
Other comfortable shoes for standing on your feet all day: (8-14 hours)
1) Brooks Addiction Walker
1) Brooks Addiction Walker
The Brooks Addiction works great for a lot of jobs which involve being on your feet. There’s a choice of either a brown Nubuck leather upper, or all-white and black milled leather versions with midsoles to match.
The ultra-wide outsole is a full contact kind, and the Addiction is the only Brooks shoe we know of which still uses ‘Hydroflow’ – an 80’s cushioning technology which uses fluid-filled pouches inside the midsole.
Available in four optional widths and three colors.
2) New Balance 928 V3
The 928 V3 is a heavy shoe. At over 15 ounces, it is nearly the twice the weight of many running shoes. In return, you get a full leather upper, a stable yet cushioned ride, and a non-marking rubber outsole in a full-contact layout.
Comes in full-white and all-black colors, and one of the rare shoes to be offered in five optional widths.