As physical therapists guide patients through rehabilitation and recovery, the right footwear is instrumental in providing the necessary support and comfort for these dedicated professionals.
In an environment where stability, agility, and endurance are key, choosing the best shoes can significantly impact a physical therapist’s ability to perform their job effectively.
This article explores the best footwear options for physical therapists, focusing on the ideal blend of comfort, support, and style that enables them to perform their duties with ease and confidence.
Our Top Picks
Best Running Shoes
Best Types of Shoes for Physical Therapists
- On Cloud
- New Balance
Hoka One One has built a reputation for crafting high-quality footwear that provides exceptional cushioning and support, making them an excellent choice for physical therapists.
With their signature oversized midsole, Hokas deliver superior shock absorption and stability, reducing the strain on feet and joints during long shifts.
These lightweight shoes also feature breathable materials and a comfortable, roomy fit, ensuring that physical therapists can focus on their patients without being distracted by aching feet.
These are ideal for medical professionals due to their exceptional cushioning and support, which help alleviate foot fatigue during long shifts.
Clogs have long been a favorite among healthcare professionals, and it’s easy to see why. Known for their simple, slip-on design and wide toe box, clogs provide ample space for the feet to breathe and spread out comfortably during extended periods of standing and walking.
Many clogs are made with easy-to-clean materials, such as leather or synthetic uppers, and slip-resistant outsoles for added safety on slick hospital floors.
Brands like Dansko and Crocs offer a variety of clogs tailored specifically to the needs of physical therapists, ensuring both comfort and durability.
These are a popular choice for medical professionals due to their exceptional arch support and all-day comfort provided by the contoured footbed. The slip-resistant outsole and easy-to-clean leather upper also make them ideal for navigating the fast-paced hospital setting.
Brooks is a well-known brand in the running community, but their shoes are also an excellent choice for medical professionals who spend hours on their feet.
With a focus on cushioning and support, Brooks shoes feature innovative technologies like the DNA LOFT and BioMoGo DNA midsoles, which adapt to the wearer’s stride and provide personalized comfort.
These shoes also have breathable mesh uppers and a secure fit, ensuring that physical therapists can move with confidence and ease throughout their shifts.
These are an excellent option for medical professionals, thanks to their responsive cushioning and smooth ride, which help reduce foot fatigue during long shifts.
4. On Cloud
On Cloud is a Swiss-engineered brand that combines cutting-edge technology with sleek, modern design, making them an attractive option for style-conscious healthcare workers.
Their patented CloudTec® sole technology provides a unique blend of softness and responsiveness, cushioning each step while still allowing for natural foot movement.
The lightweight and breathable construction, coupled with a supportive midsole and slip-resistant outsole, make On Cloud shoes an excellent choice for those seeking both comfort and performance in their footwear.
These are a great choice for medical professionals, as they provide superior cushioning and support through the innovative Helion™ superfoam, which helps reduce foot fatigue.
Asics is a renowned brand in the world of athletic footwear, and their shoes have garnered a loyal following among medical professionals as well.
Known for their innovative GEL cushioning technology, Asics shoes provide excellent shock absorption and support, which is essential for long hours of standing and walking on hard hospital floors.
Additionally, their breathable mesh uppers and structured heel support contribute to an overall comfortable and secure fit. Asics offers a wide range of styles to suit the preferences of physical therapists, making them a popular choice in the healthcare industry.
These are well-suited for medical professionals, as they offer excellent stability and cushioning with their GEL™ technology and FlyteFoam™ midsole. These features help reduce foot fatigue during long shifts, while the breathable mesh upper ensures lasting comfort in demanding healthcare environments.
OOFOS is a brand that specializes in recovery footwear, which translates well to the demands of the physical therapy profession.
Their shoes feature proprietary OOfoam technology, which provides outstanding impact absorption and arch support, making them perfect for professionals who need relief during and after a long day on their feet.
OOFOS shoes also boast a soft, comfortable footbed that cradles the feet, promoting natural motion and reducing stress on joints.
With their slip-resistant soles and easy-to-clean materials, OOFOS footwear is a practical and comfortable choice for physical therapists.
These sneakers are a solid choice for medical professionals because of their patented OOfoam™ technology, which provides superior shock absorption and arch support, reducing foot fatigue during long shifts.
Skechers is a popular footwear brand known for its wide range of comfortable and stylish shoes that cater to various professions, including physical therapists.
With their focus on comfort, Skechers shoes often feature memory foam insoles, providing professionals with a cushioned and supportive base for their long shifts.
The brand’s breathable and lightweight materials, combined with their flexible and slip-resistant outsoles, make them an excellent choice for healthcare workers seeking a balance of comfort, support, and durability.
These are a great option for medical professionals because they provide exceptional comfort and support through their Air-Cooled Memory Foam insole and lightweight midsole.
Nike, a household name in athletic footwear, offers a variety of shoes suitable for physical therapists who prioritize comfort, performance, and style.
Many of their models feature advanced cushioning technologies that provide responsive support and shock absorption, making them ideal for extended periods of standing and walking.
Furthermore, their lightweight and breathable designs help keep feet comfortable and dry during long shifts. With a wide range of styles and colors available, Nike shoes can cater to the diverse tastes of medical professionals.
These are lightweight and breathable but still provide excellent cushioning and support thanks to their responsive midsoles, helping to reduce foot fatigue while in the hospital.
Adidas is another prominent athletic footwear brand that has made its mark in the world of healthcare shoes. Known for their innovative BOOST and BOUNCE midsole technologies, Adidas shoes deliver exceptional energy return and cushioning, reducing fatigue during long shifts.
The brand’s breathable and lightweight materials, combined with a supportive and snug fit, ensure that physical therapists can move with ease and comfort throughout their workday.
Adidas offers a variety of styles, from sleek running shoes to more casual options, providing medical professionals with footwear choices that cater to their preferences and needs.
These shoes not only look great but they are also constructed with responsive Boost cushioning and a supportive Primeknit upper, which help reduce foot fatigue during long shifts.
Crocs have become a staple in the healthcare industry, providing physical therapists with practical and comfortable footwear options.
Known for their signature clog style, Crocs are made from a soft, lightweight Croslite material that molds to the foot, offering both cushioning and support.
The easy-to-clean, waterproof design makes them ideal for the demands of a hospital environment, while the slip-resistant soles ensure safety on wet or slippery floors.
With a variety of styles and colors available, Crocs cater to the diverse needs and preferences of healthcare workers.
These are an excellent choice for medical professionals because they feature a comfortable and lightweight Croslite™ foam construction with a slip-resistant outsole, ensuring both comfort and safety in the workplace.
11. New Balance
New Balance is a well-established athletic footwear brand that offers a range of shoes suitable for physical therapists and medical professionals.
Their shoes are designed with comfort and support in mind, featuring technologies such as the ABZORB and Fresh Foam cushioning systems, which provide excellent shock absorption and stability.
Additionally, New Balance shoes often have breathable mesh uppers and a roomy toe box, ensuring that feet remain comfortable and cool during long shifts.
With a variety of styles and widths available, New Balance caters to physical therapists with varying foot shapes and preferences.
These sneakers are an ideal choice for healthcare workers due to their Fresh Foam midsole, which offers plush cushioning and support to help keep your feet feeling fresh while on the job.
Reebok, a reputable brand in the athletic footwear industry, offers a selection of shoes that meet the unique demands of medical professionals.
Many of their models, such as the Reebok Floatride and Reebok Work series, boast advanced cushioning and support technologies, providing physical therapists with the comfort they need for extended periods of standing and walking.
Reebok shoes also feature slip-resistant outsoles and durable materials, ensuring safety and longevity in the challenging hospital environment.
With a range of styles to choose from, Reebok can meet the needs of those who value both performance and style in their footwear.
The Reebok Women's Zig Dynamica Sneakers are well-suited for medical workers, as they feature a responsive ZigTech midsole for exceptional cushioning and energy return to protect your feet.
Best for Women
- Cushioned midsole
- Breathable upper
- Meta-rocker technology
- Slip-resistant outsole
- Padded tongue and collar
- Stapled construction
- Leather upper
- Contoured footbed
- Slip-resistant outsole
- Roomy toe box
When it comes to the best shoes for female physical therapists, it’s important to consider factors such as the unique shape of women’s feet, specific support needs, and personal style preferences.
Shoes in this category cater to these considerations, offering a balance of comfort, support, and aesthetics tailored to the needs of women in the physical therapy profession.
Brands that excel in this category often provide a range of styles, sizes, and widths, ensuring that female physical therapists can find the perfect fit to keep them comfortable and confident throughout their shifts.
Best for Men
- Segmented crash pad
- BioMoGo DNA and DNA LOFT cushioning
- Engineered mesh upper
- 3D fit print overlays
- Flex grooves in outsole
- Primeknit upper
- Boost cushioning
- Torsion system
- Stretchweb outsole
- Continental™ rubber traction
For male physical therapists, finding the best footwear means considering factors such as larger foot sizes, the need for more substantial support, and preferences in style and design.
The best shoes for men in medical settings combine durability, cushioning, and stability, catering to the specific demands of the male foot.
Brands that excel in this category offer a wide range of options in terms of size, width, and style, allowing male PTs to find the ideal shoe that accommodates their unique needs and keeps them comfortable during long shifts.
Best for Support
Support is crucial for physical therapists who spend long hours on their feet, as it helps prevent foot fatigue, discomfort, and potential injury.
These shoes provide unparalleled support for medical workers with their VersoShock® technology, which not only absorbs shock but also helps promote proper foot alignment.
The best shoes for support provide features such as a well-cushioned insole, adequate arch support, and a stable midsole, ensuring that feet are properly aligned and protected from strain.
In addition, these shoes often incorporate slip-resistant outsoles and durable materials, making them ideal for the demanding conditions of a hospital environment.
Footwear in this category is designed to prioritize support and stability, allowing physical therapists to focus on their patients without being hindered by foot discomfort.
Best for Standing All Day
For physical therapists who spend the majority of their shifts standing, it’s essential to find shoes that offer superior cushioning, shock absorption, and overall comfort.
The shoes are an excellent choice for healthcare workers who stand all day, as they offer superior cushioning and support with their compression-molded EVA midsole and early-stage Meta-Rocker geometry.
The best shoes for standing all day are designed to minimize the impact on the feet and joints, helping to reduce fatigue and discomfort over long periods of time.
These shoes often feature extra cushioning, breathable materials, and a comfortable fit that prevents pressure points and friction.
By prioritizing comfort and support, these shoes enable medical professionals to remain focused and comfortable throughout their demanding shifts.
Best for Plantar Fasciitis
Physical therapists who suffer from plantar fasciitis require shoes that provide targeted support and cushioning to alleviate heel pain and discomfort.
These shoes are an excellent choice for medical workers with plantar fasciitis, as their patented VersoShock® technology offers outstanding shock absorption and cushioning, which can help alleviate heel pain.
The best shoes for plantar fasciitis typically feature a well-cushioned heel, strong arch support, and a shock-absorbing midsole to minimize the strain on the plantar fascia.
Shoes in this category often incorporate orthotic insoles or contoured footbeds that help distribute pressure evenly across the foot, ensuring maximum comfort and pain relief for those coping with this common foot condition.
Best for Wide Feet
For medical professionals with wide feet, finding shoes that accommodate their foot shape is crucial for comfort and support during long shifts.
These clogs are ideal for healthcare workers with wide feet, as they feature a roomy toe box and are available in wide-width options, ensuring a comfortable fit for those with broader feet.
The best shoes for wide feet offer a spacious toe box and a range of width options, allowing for a more customized fit that prevents pressure points and friction.
These shoes often prioritize flexibility and breathability, ensuring that feet remain comfortable and well-ventilated throughout the day. Brands that excel in this category cater to the unique needs of physical therapists with wide feet, providing an optimal balance of comfort and support.
Best for Flat Feet
Physical therapists with flat feet require shoes that address their specific support needs, such as providing proper arch support and stability.
These running shoes are beneficial for medical professionals with flat feet, as they feature a supportive design with ample cushioning, including the rearfoot GEL™ technology, which helps absorb shock and promote proper foot alignment.
The best shoes for flat feet feature structured midsoles, firm heel counters, and ample cushioning to help correct foot alignment and prevent overpronation.
In addition, these shoes often come with removable insoles, allowing for the use of custom orthotics for added support.
Footwear in this category is designed to cater to the unique demands of flat-footed individuals, ensuring maximum comfort and support during long work shifts.
Best for Back Pain
For physical therapists experiencing back pain, it’s crucial to find shoes that help alleviate discomfort by providing proper support, cushioning, and shock absorption.
These slip-on sneakers are beneficial for medical professionals with back pain, as their patented OOfoam™ technology provides exceptional shock absorption and arch support, helping to reduce stress on the joints and spine.
The best shoes for back pain focus on maintaining proper body alignment and distributing pressure evenly across the foot, which can help reduce strain on the lower back.
These shoes often feature ergonomic designs, ample arch support, and cushioned midsoles to minimize the impact on joints and the spine during long hours of standing and walking.
By prioritizing features that address the unique needs of those with back pain, these shoes can help PTs maintain their comfort and well-being throughout their demanding shifts, enabling them to focus on providing exceptional patient care.
Best for Physical Therapy Students
Physical therapy students need shoes that provide comfort and support while also being budget-friendly and versatile enough for various clinical settings.
These shoes are a budget-friendly option for students, as they offer comfortability and a slip-resistant design that meets the demands of clinical rotations.
The best shoes for physical therapy students prioritize features such as slip-resistant outsoles, easy-to-clean materials, and a balance of cushioning and support that can withstand long hours of standing and walking.
In addition, these shoes often come in neutral and professional colors, ensuring that students can adhere to dress code requirements while still maintaining a sense of personal style.
Best for Pregnant Professionals
High-quality shoes are essential for pregnant medical professionals because, during pregnancy, the body undergoes significant changes.
These sneakers are a great option for healthcare workers who are pregnant because they feature an insole with extra cushioning and support that helps reduce foot fatigue and discomfort.
This includes the following:
- Increased weight
- Shifts in the center of gravity
These factors can lead to discomfort, fatigue, and even pain in the feet, legs, and back.
Therefore, shoes in this category provide additional support, cushioning, and stability tailored to the unique needs of pregnant individuals, helping to alleviate discomfort and ensure safety during long shifts in healthcare settings.
FAQs About Physical Therapy Shoes
What Features Should Shoes for Physical Therapists Have?
Shoes for physical therapists should have the following features:
- Comfort: A cushioned insole and a well-padded interior to provide all-day comfort during long shifts.
- Support: Adequate arch support and a stable midsole to help maintain proper foot alignment and reduce strain on the feet and legs.
- Slip-resistant outsoles: To ensure safety on wet or slippery hospital floors.
- Breathability: Lightweight, breathable materials to keep feet dry and comfortable throughout the day.
- Durability: High-quality construction and materials to withstand the rigors of daily use in a healthcare setting.
- Easy to clean: Shoes should be made of materials that can be easily wiped down or washed to maintain cleanliness and hygiene.
How Often Should Physical Therapists Replace Their Work Shoes?
Physical therapists should replace their work shoes every six months to a year or when signs of wear and tear become evident, such as the breakdown of cushioning, loss of support, or damaged outsoles.
The frequency of replacement may vary depending on individual usage and the quality of the shoes.
Are Running Shoes Okay for Physical Therapists?
Running shoes can be suitable for physical therapists, as they often provide good cushioning, support, and breathability.
However, it’s essential to ensure that the running shoes also have slip-resistant outsoles and are made of easy-to-clean materials, both of which are crucial features for medical footwear.
Why do High-Quality Shoes Matter for Physical Therapists?
High-quality shoes matter for physical therapists because they provide the necessary comfort, support, and durability required to withstand the demands of the profession.
Comfortable and supportive shoes can help prevent foot fatigue, discomfort, and potential injuries, enabling PTs to focus on their patients and provide the best care possible.
Are Clogs Better Than Tennis Shoes for Physical Therapists?
Both clogs and tennis shoes have their advantages for physical therapists, and the choice between them depends on personal preference and specific needs.
Clogs offer a simple, slip-on design, easy-to-clean materials, and a wide-toe box, making them a practical and comfortable choice. Tennis shoes, on the other hand, provide more structure and support, often featuring advanced cushioning technologies and a secure fit.
It’s essential for healthcare workers to choose footwear that meets their unique comfort and support requirements, regardless of the type.
Where to Buy the Best Shoes for Physical Therapists?
To find the best shoes for physical therapists, consider exploring various sources, such as specialty medical uniform stores, which typically carry a wide range of shoes and workwear tailored to the demands of the profession.
Online retailers like Amazon, Zappos, or the official websites of shoe brands offer a vast selection of styles and sizes, often accompanied by customer reviews.
Additionally, brick-and-mortar shoe stores and department stores provide the opportunity to try on different styles and sizes for the perfect fit. Don’t forget to check discount stores and outlets, which might have high-quality shoes at lower prices.
Choosing the ideal footwear is essential for medical professionals who spend countless hours on their feet, providing compassionate care to their patients. Our top choice for physical therapists is HOKA ONE ONE Bondi 8 Women’s Running Shoes for all the reasons discussed throughout this article.
However, with various categories tailored to different needs, such as plantar fasciitis, wide feet, or flat feet and options that cater to both men and women, there is a perfect shoe out there for every physical therapist.
The brands and models highlighted in this article prioritize comfort, support, durability, and style, ensuring that physical therapists can confidently navigate their demanding work environment without being hindered by foot discomfort.
By investing in the best shoes for your individual needs, you can focus on your critical role in patient care, knowing that your feet are well-supported and protected.
John Landry is a registered respiratory therapist from Memphis, TN, and has a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. He enjoys using evidence-based research to help others breathe easier and live a healthier life.
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