Physical therapists spend long hours on their feet assisting patients through rehabilitation exercises and therapies. Having proper footwear is crucial for providing the necessary support, comfort, and stability throughout the workday.
This article explores the key features to look for when selecting shoes as a physical therapist along with specific recommendations for various needs and foot types.
What to Look for in Physical Therapist Shoes
When shopping for shoes as a physical therapist, there are certain features you should prioritize:
Ample cushioning in areas like the heel, arch and ball of the foot will absorb shock and reduce strain when you’re on your feet all day. Memory foam is an excellent cushioning material.
Shoes need to help maintain proper foot alignment with features like arch reinforcement, heel counters and medial posts. Supportive components will vary based on your foot type.
Slip-resistant outsoles provide essential traction on slick hospital and clinic floors, especially if you work with patients on unsteady feet. Rubber outsoles tend to offer the best grip.
Mesh materials allow airflow to keep feet cool and dry since you can’t always stop to change sweaty socks. This helps prevent blisters or fungal infections.
Heavy shoes can cause fatigue over 10+ hours of wear. Lightweight materials ensure energy isn’t wasted dragging around heavy footwear.
Easy to Clean
Working in healthcare means keeping shoes sanitary is a must. Non-porous leather or synthetic uppers can handle frequent wiping downs. Some are even machine washable.
Details like padded tongues/collars, seamless linings and removable sock liners maximize comfort when worn for long periods.
Also Read: Can Nurses Wear Crocs?
Top 8 Shoes Recommended for Physical Therapists
Brooks Adrenaline GTS
Features: Guide Rails support frame, cushioned DNA LOFT heel, flexible forefoot grooves
Pros: Excellent stability, good for overpronators, comfortable fit
Cons: Heavier than comparable shoes, snug toe box
New Balance X 880v13
Features: Dual density medial post helps prevent overpronation, flexible outsole
Pros: Lightweight cushioning via Fuel Cell midsole, good forefoot flexibility
Cons: Runs narrow, less stable than other support options
Saucony Echelon LE2
Features: Flexible FORMFIT upper, Ever run top sole for lively cushioned feel
Pros: Comfortable fit, accommodates orthotics well, durable outsole
Cons: Heel collar can irritate Achilles area, expensive
Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit
Features: Wide forefoot platform for stability, lightweight Flyknit upper
Pros: Ultra-comfortable, responsive Nike React foam midsole absorbs shock
Cons: Less structure than traditional stability shoes, runs small
Asics Gel-Kayano 28
Features: Exoskeletal heel counter improves fit and support, rear and forefoot GEL
Pros: Good cushioning from Flight Foam midsole, ideal support for overpronators
Cons: Toe box runs narrow, expensive
Features: Ergonomic cushioning sole, seam-free interior lining, extra depth design
Pros: Roomy toe box, great for bunions and hammer toes, easy hook-and-loop closure
Cons: Limited style and color options, may run large and wide
Reebok Energen Plus
Features: Integrated forefoot flex grooves for natural motion, shock absorbing midsole
Pros: Designed for all-day wear, durable carbon rubber outsole areas
Cons: Limited color options, runs narrow especially in toe box
HOKA Bondi 8
Features: Broad forefoot platform for stability, compression-molded midsole foam
Pros: Maximum cushioning and shock absorption, smooth ride
Cons: Very bulky looking, break-in period, expensive
Also Read: Are Crocs Good for Bunions?
Best Shoes Based on Foot Type
Beyond those overall top recommendations which supply ample comfort and support for the general demands of physical therapy settings, you may need shoes catered to specifics foot conditions.
Here are top picks for various foot types and common foot ailments:
For Flat Feet & Overpronation
Those with flat feet/overpronation require stability shoes providing motion control, reinforcement along the arches and midfoot support. Great options include:
Brooks Adrenaline GTS
Features GuideRails support frame technology integrated into the midsole which limits excess movement and ankle rotation inwards/outwards.
ASICS GT-2000 10
Dual-density midsole termed DuoMax adds a firmer wedge down the arch/midfoot area preventing the foot from collapsing inward excessively (overpronation). Gel cushioning pads impact zones.
New Balance Vongo v5
Features a medial post running through the arch segment of the midsole to prevent overpronation. Plus fresh foam cushioning supplies soft yet responsive padding.
Best for Plantar Fasciitis & Heel Pain Relief
For plantar fasciitis, select cushioned shoes providing ample padding around inflamed areas like the heel and arch with features such as:
HOKA Arahi 5
Meta-rocker sole design facilitates heel-to-toe transitions while full-compression midsoles absorb shock preventing further micro-tears and plantar fascia inflammation.
Brooks Ghost 14
Segmented crash pads underneath the heel soften landings while BioMoGo DNA responsively adapts to your stride. The internal stretch bootie celebrates the foot for a secure yet non-restrictive sensation.
Features air cushioning and anatomical arch support to alleviate pressure on heel spurs plus has seam-free interior lining eliminating friction and irritation on painful inflammation spots.
For Wide Feet & Bunions
If finding shoes suiting wide feet is a challenge, brands like New Balance, Saucony and Orthofeet offer wider size ranges and toe box dimensions allowing natural toe spread without painful scrunching. Recommended styles include:
New Balance 680v6
With an accommodating fit and wide widths available, reviewers love the 860v10 for extra foot real estate even during post-pregnancy swelling stages.
Saucony Echelon Walker
Featuring a stretchable upper with wide toe box perfect for toe spread while walking plus forefoot flex grooves facilitate natural stride movement rather than rigid confinement.
Designed specifically to alleviate pressure on bunions, hammer toes and sensitive spots with extra depth toe boxes and seam-free forefoot. Plus has anatomical arch support and cushioning.
For High Arches Requiring Cushioned Neutral Shoes
Look for options with full ground contact, cushioning extending heel to toe and flexibility allowing natural foot mechanics rather than rigid confinement. Our top picks include:
ASICS Gel-Nimbus 24
Rearfoot and forefoot gel pads target the areas needing shock absorption most for high arches while FlyteFoam Propel adaptively responds to individual footstrike tendencies.
Brooks Glycerin GTS 19
Specifically designed for medium to high arches, guide rails limit excess motion leading to injury down the road while plush DNA LOFT extends throughout the midsole for consistent responsive softness.
Selecting proper footwear is essential for physical therapists spending long shifts walking, standing, bending, stretching and moving actively throughout clinics and hospitals. Prioritize cushioning, support, traction and breathability when shopping.
Those with foot conditions should choose options catering to their specific needs. With numerous brands and technologies available, take time finding high quality shoes promoting resilience and preventing injury so you can provide your best patient care day after day.
Investing in proper footwear pays dividends keeping you comfortably on your feet across long workdays guiding patients’ healing journeys.