Best Comfortable Shoes for Women
What to wear for ultimate all-day support.
Ask a restaurant server, medical provider or even a mom who stands on her feet all day: When women’s shoes aren’t comfortable, they feel it. “I usually work eight-hour days and am up and down on my feet all day,” says Jessi Conrad, a Family Nurse Practitioner in Amherst, Massachusetts. “When I wear a device to track my steps, I usually get close to ten thousand during the day at work. So I need shoes that really support my feet.”
Your feet are responsible for locomotion, balance, posture and supporting the entire weight of your body. The importance of comfortable shoes, especially for women, cannot be understated. Don’t believe us? Read on for the best and worst things you can do for your feet.
What’s At Stake?
In order to emphasize the importance of wearing the best comfortable shoes, it helps to look at what happens when we don’t. “Wearing unsupportive, uncomfortable shoes can alter the normal mechanics and distribution of pressure and weight across your foot, leading to a tremendous amount of stress being placed not only on your feet but also the rest of your body,” explains Dr. Miguel Cunha, ABPM-certified surgical podiatrist and founder of New York’s Gotham Footcare. “This imbalance can increase the progression of underlying foot deformities like bunions and hammertoes, and ultimately lead to overuse injuries like plantar fasciitis, shin splints and Achilles tendonitis. This can also translate upward, affecting other parts of the body like knees and back.”
But we didn’t have to tell you that. Any woman who’s suffered through a day on her feet wearing high heels knows what we’re talking about. But even in flats, unsupportive shoes can wreak havoc on our bodies and minds. “If I wear the wrong shoes all day, my feet and back definitely ache,” says Conrad. “Plus the last thing you want your medical provider doing is thinking about how her feet hurt when she should be thinking about the task at hand.”
“There’s a lot of truth to the saying, ‘if your feet hurt, everything hurts,’” says Dr. Cunha. “Your feet are the gateway to the rest of your body. Wearing comfortable shoes can help reduce overall generalized fatigue, pain and injuries to other areas of the body. Taking good care of your feet also helps reduce stress, which improves immunity and contributes to an overall sense of well-being.”
Finding The Tech
So what should we be looking for in the best comfortable shoes for women? First and foremost, supportive technology. Cunha recommends specifically-engineered footbeds and molded EVA midsoles to help mitigate foot, heel and arch support for superior comfort (especially for people with flat feet). When it comes to women’s shoes, he also stresses the importance of rigid heels and flexible toe boxes, as well as a wide forefoot. “Particularly for women and often for runners, you want a wide enough forefoot in your shoes,” he says. “Bunions, hammertoes, neuromas and ingrown toenails are all caused by narrow forefoots. In order to determine whether yours is wide enough, trace your foot onto a piece of paper at the end of the day when your feet are most swollen. Then, place the shoe over the tracing of your foot. If the tracing is external to the periphery of the shoe, you know your shoes are too narrow.”
The best comfortable shoes for women have structure. You shouldn’t be able to bend your shoe in half like a flip-flop. Those rubber sandals have their place from the pool to the lounge chair, but offer nothing much in terms of support. In order to get maximum comfort out of women’s shoes, you’ve got to have more than just rubber or leather. These days, technology like MemoryTech foam and DMX cushioning (which moves air from the heel to the forefoot and back as you move) give the best comfortable shoes a major leg up. Responsive FuelFoam midsoles have the power to return energy to your stride, propelling you forward. And flex grooves in rubber outsoles can provide flexibility, whether you’re weight training or just waiting for the subway.
Make It Easy
You know that pair of comfortable shoes you always go to? Chances are, they don’t have complicated laces or lots of bells and whistles that make them difficult to put on. The best comfortable shoes for women not only cushion your stride and cradle your arch, but they’re also easy to slip-on. Check out comfortable shoes with laceless designs for convenience and style.
And don’t forget about socks(!) The shape, construction and material of your socks plays a vital role in ensuring the health of your feet. Look for socks shaped like a foot, with a designated toe, heel and arch (this makes them less likely to bunch). Invisible toe seams minimize friction, while moisture-wicking properties prevent bacteria growth and odors.
Investing in comfortable shoes (and socks) is one of the best things you can do for your feet. Cunha recommends replacing women’s shoes every 300 to 400 miles, which usually amounts to anywhere from six to ten months. “Take note of the date each time you buy a pair of comfortable shoes,” he says. “This will help you keep track when you’re due for a new pair.”