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 standing is a lot harder than it appears – especially when you’re on your feet the whole day.
People working in the retail and service industry know this, and so do those 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 several design attributes that need to be considered. If the following section appears similar to our walking shoe guide, 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 to spread the pressure evenly. Over a prolonged period of standing, protruding outsole lugs may become 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 the bodyweight is constantly transferred across the heel and ball of the foot.
The Nike ZoomX Invincible Run takes the top spot on this list, and it’s a sign that new-age cushioning materials are replacing traditional EVA foam-based midsoles.
That being said, several EVA foam-based midsoles pass muster. The Asics Nimbus 23 delivers a superbly plush and padded ride through its multi-density Flytefoam (EVA blend) stack. The Brooks Glycerin 19 isn’t far behind, and the New Balance 1080 V11 makes an appearance as well.
So it isn’t just the midsole material, but the overall design that counts. The adidas Ultraboost 21 is another example. Even though it has a higher volume midsole than the Ultraboost 20, it is firmer due to the outsole redesign and introduction of additional stability features.
3) A spacious upper to splay the toes: A narrow-fitting shoe can be torturous during long hours of standing, so a shoe with an accommodating interior helps. The Brooks Glycerin 19 fits a bit snug due to its full inner sleeve, but a wide sizing comes optional.
4) A 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 soles.
5) A higher heel-to-toe offset: The ‘offset’ or ‘heel drop’ indicates the difference between the heel and forefoot thickness. For a standing-friendly shoe, it’s preferable to have a higher heel drop (say 8-12 mm) to alleviate pressure on the Achilles tendon and calves.
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.
If the shifts exceed 6-8 hours, then adopting a different footwear strategy will be wise. 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; the foot needs to be locked down during the runs. But the same snugness that benefits running may be detrimental to comfort during 12+ hours shifts.
That said, there are several running shoes on this list with a broad midsole. Noteworthy mentions would the adidas Ultraboost 21, Asics Nimbus 23, and Nike ZoomX Invincible Run.
Also, depending on the place of employment, other footwear requirements may need to be considered. For example:
1) Plain colors: If the workplace atmosphere is formal, then conspicuously colorful running shoes may be unacceptable.
Many modern running shoes are more colorful than a sprinkled donut, thus making them unsuitable for formal settings. Hence, plain colors like all-white or all-black are desirable. The second part of this guide contains shoes that address such styling needs.
2) Maintenance-friendly design: Some jobs that require standing all day happen to be in the food-service industry, 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. On this guide, the Saucony Omni Walker 3 has a non-marking outsole.
As you can see, finding a shoe that is suitable for all-day standing isn’t as straightforward as it sounds.
Considering the number of variables involved, we’ve compiled two recommendation lists. The first group comprises of running shoes that are comfortable enough for standing. The second section has walking shoes with workplace-safe colors and features.
Best running shoes for standing all day: Running shoes
1) Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit
The ZoomX Invincible is pricey, but it’s the last word in cushioning softness.
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. Our detailed review has everything that one needs to know about this shoe.
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. The fit is accommodating without being sloppy, so that also contributes to the overall comfort levels.
A single piece of rubber makes up the outsole, and the surface has a dense colony of lugs for grip.
2) Asics Gel-Nimbus 23
The Nimbus 23 doesn’t use fancy foams like PEBA or Polyurethane.
The midsole relies on the proven Flytefoam and visible Gel setup to achieve a level of plushness seldom experienced on a Nimbus. The forefoot is soft, and the heel is even softer due to the higher thickness.
As if the plush, 10 mm offset midsole wasn’t enough, there’s a dual layer of foam lasting and insole for added step-in cushioning.
The blown rubber outsole under the forefoot is softer than the rear, so loading the bodyweight on the ball of the foot doesn’t create a lumpy sensation.
For a shoe this plush, the ride is fairly supportive and keeps the foot centered.
The Nimbus 23 isn’t just about a plush ride; it also has an equally lux upper fit and feel.
The upper mesh is soft and smooth, and the 23’s fit is made better by the introduction of an inner sleeve that was missing on the prior versions. The luxuriously padded heel and tongue use a soft lining that elevates the fit experience.
3) adidas UltraBoost 21
The high-volume Boost midsole made the Ultraboost a great standing-friendly shoe in the past. Even though the 2021 model has been thoroughly redesigned, it remains a good pick.
Though the Ultraboost 21 has a wider and higher-volume Boost than the 19 and 20, the ride is comparatively firmer. The wide base makes it supportive; the stability is also helped by the plastic heel clip and 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.
Do you want to learn more about this shoe? Read our detailed write-up on the Ultraboost 21.
4) Asics Gel-Kayano Lite 2
The Asics Kayano Lite V2 isn’t an overly soft shoe. Regardless, the wide midsole provides a cushioned and supportive foundation to spend many hours on. The Kayano Lite 2 uses the same midsole and outsole as the V1 – so if you’re interested, here’s our in-depth review of the Kayano Lite.
The full-length Flytefoam midsole and soft insole work together to deliver a cushioned top layer and comfortable base for the foot to rest on. And if you’re wondering how it compares to the standard Kayano, 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 just-right forefoot fit allows the toes to splay when standing.
5) Asics Gel-Cumulus 23
Often seen as the toned-down version of the Asics Gel Nimbus, the Cumulus is a popular shoe with runners and walkers.
The version 23 in particular, is one of the nicest Cumulus models. While it’s not as plush as the Nimbus 23, the midsole has a soft and cushy feel that results in excellent under-the-foot comfort. That’s a nice thing to have when being on the feet for many hours.
The upper isn’t full of bells and whistles, but it provides interior comfort 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 a secure fit.
6) Mizuno Wave Sky Waveknit 4
Several design features make the Wave Sky Waveknit 4 a good standing shoe. Though the midsole no longer has the rigid ‘Wave’ plate, the cushioning is still supportive.
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 offering the fit security that the foot needs. 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
The newer versions of the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 live up to the original promise of a soft cushioning 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 advertised.
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 resistant layer.
Though the knit upper has a snug fit, the elastic mesh makes it accommodating. 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) 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 foam lasting add the obligatory step-in softness.
Unlike the others on this list – say, like the Asics Nimbus 23 or Nike Invincible for instance – the Glycerin 19’s cushioning isn’t very soft.
However, multi-hour ride comfort is available in spades, and there’s even a plush upper to match. The fit runs snug due to the presence of a full internal sleeve. For more space, a wide 2E sizing is available as an option.
Outsole rubber is used liberally to cover the bottom, a design choice that results in excellent traction over most artificial surfaces.
Other comfortable shoes for standing on your feet all day: (Non-running, ‘safe’ colors)
1) Nike Monarch IV
1) Nike Monarch IV
The under-stated 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 within the firm and supportive midsole. The single-piece rubber outsole grips well and adds durability.
The upper is robustly built and is offered in an all-leather or mesh-leather combination. And let’s not forget the Monarch’s phenomenal value-for-money proposition; all these features are offered at a princely $75 retail price.
The workplace-safe color(s) is another thing that the Monarch has going for it.
2) Brooks Addiction Walker 2
While 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 duties.
Unlike the (more) colorful shoes on this guide, the Brooks Addiction Walker 2 is available in muted and solid colors that make it workplace safe. 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 during colder weather or within air-conditioned confines.
The firm ride makes the shoe very stable; after all, this is a 14.5-ounces (411 gram) shoe. Making the shoe heavy is also the thick outsole that completely covers the sole.
The outsole is certified slip-resistant, so the Addiction Walker 2 is a safe and dependable pick for those who work in the retail, hospitality, and healthcare industry.
3) Saucony Omni Walker 3
Like the Brooks Addiction Walker 2, the Saucony Omni Walker 3 is offered in just two colors. And that’s a ‘black and white’ fact.
The all-white and all-black leather upper makes the wipe-downs easy; the folded edges of the upper overlays prevent the edges from catching dirt.
Under the upper is a supportive midsole that runs softer than the Brooks Addiction Walker. At 13-ounces, the Omni is also ‘lighter’ than Brooks and has a lower retail price that makes it excellent value for money.
Mind you, the Omni Walker 3 has a firmer wedge to make the medial (inner) more supportive, but that doesn’t get in the way of all-day comfort.
If your workplace requires the shoe to have a non-marking outsole, then the Omni Walker 3 is your shoe. Its special rubber formulation does not leave rubber marks or streaks on the floor.
The mostly leather upper fits securely and has decent levels of plushness, thanks to the foam-quilted tongue and heel. The Omni Walker 3 retails in a wide as well.