The 7 Best Shoes for Occupational Therapists
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Looking for the best shoes for occupational therapists? Well, you’ve come to the right place! The right footwear is crucial for therapists, no matter what setting you’re in. Your job as an occupational therapist is likely to keep you on your feet for most of the day. Therapy professions can be quite physically-demanding, especially if you’re in a fast-paced environment like a large hospital or a skilled nursing facility with multiple buildings. Attire in these settings is commonly scrubs (or at least scrub bottoms with a basic long-sleeve t-shirt).
Many healthcare workers pair this outfit with sneakers since closed-toed shoes are almost always a requirement and sneakers are a simple way to get support and protect their feet at the same time. But therapists in residential care aren’t the only ones who can benefit from supportive and comfortable footwear. OTs in busy outpatient clinics need to go back and forth getting patients from the waiting room and school-based therapists may need to walk long distances to bring students to and from class for their treatment.
The point is that all therapists need supportive footwear to prevent injury, minimize fatigue, and keep their form and posture properly aligned. But, since you’re an OT, I’m not telling you anything new! While sneakers are a decent option, professional footwear is a great investment to make for both your health and comfort. With a significant difference in arch support as compared to standard shoes, the footwear we discuss below goes far beyond supporting the feet and can also prevent leg and hip pain as well as back pain.
There are many options in this category so it can be difficult to choose those that are best for you. We’ll discuss some of the basic shoe options, with the ones that are most well-known and recommended by OTs online and through our own personal experience. If you have additional shoe needs like increased arch support, be sure to do your own due diligence as well.
1. ASICS Running Shoes
ASICS are well-known and one of the top shoe brands that occupational therapists recommend for any setting. They are a personal favorite here at My OT Spot, as they’re so comfortable and supportive for days when you feel like you’re always on your feet and constantly on the move. While they are not waterproof/quick dry or as easily wipeable like some of our other options listed below, they are really stylish and can be worn with your regular outfits. They are dual-purpose as they also make a great running shoe for after work.
If you opt for the top rated GT-200 series (linked above), you also have the additional gel cushioning system that reduces shock during impact and toe-off phases, and allows foot movement in multiple planes.
2. Brooks Running Shoes
If you’re serious about your footwear and want another excellent option for a super supportive yet lightweight work shoe plus running shoe, Brooks running shoes are highly recommended and loved by OTs. They’re extremely comfortable for long days on your feet, and offer neutral foot support with “high energizing” cushioning. The Brooks Ghost 13 shoes linked above are also a certified PDAC A5500 diabetic shoe and have been granted the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) Seal of Acceptance. They also happen to be the best-rated shoe on Amazon that we’re featuring.
While originally made as rain and garden shoes, Sloggers are comfortable, lightweight, and supportive shoes to wear during the workday. Their name hints at them potentially being clogs but they have nearly a full back and offer a good arch support. These features both give the feet the cushion they need to remain strong and energetic after long hours on your feet. The soles have sufficient tread to offer you the traction you need and help navigate potential spills or slippery floors. The insole is removable for easy cleaning (or freshening up) and the material wipes off very easily in water or with a damp cloth. Sloggers come in a lot of very stylish designs, too, so you have many options to keep your footwear fun and functional at the same
4. Tiosebon Women’s Athletic/Work Shoes
As another option, Tiosebon brand slip-on shoes serve a dual purpose as either athletic shoes or work shoes, depending on your needs or preference. These shoes are attractive enough that they can be worn outside of work with some athleisure apparel or even jeans and a t-shirt. The knit material may not hold up against spills (or cleaning) as well as the rubber clogs do, but they are more breathable and some may say are more attractive than clogs. The cloth-elastic hybrid also offers some give for people with a bit larger feet that might feel cramped in shoes made of a solid material. This shoe is quite lightweight – even more than most brands of clogs – and they reportedly contain environmentally-friendly materials.
5. FeetMat Women’s Work Shoes
FeetMat shoes are similarly lightweight and stylish like the Tiosebon. They are dark so stains may be less likely to appear, and the laces can be easily hidden for a more streamlined appearance. There is a removable sock liner that allows you to maintain the interior of the shoes more easily regardless of whether or not you decide to wear socks during use. Their non-skid rubber sole has a decent amount of tread on the bottom, which is a great sign for improved arch support and traction on potentially hazardous surfaces. Traction is also crucial for keeping your balance when in precarious situations such as transferring patients that need a high level of assistance or during showers. FeetMat shoes come in a range of colors, are affordable, and can be delivered quickly via Amazon.
6. Dansko Professional Clog Mule
Anything from the Dansko brand is one of the most visually-recognizable pieces of attire for healthcare providers. They are more commonly worn by nurses, but they are truly ideal for anyone who’s on their feet all day and needs proper arch support. Their notable curve and thick sole comes with a rocker bottom, which serves the added benefit of more solid arch support along with preventing excess fatigue. This is a huge feature, since tired feet can make one hour of work seem like 5!
Inside of this shoe consists of a leather lining to prevent sweaty feet and decrease smell after long hours of use. The “chunky” style also lends itself to added wiggle room in the toe box, which allows you to move around freely without feeling cramped. Like Brooks shoes, Danskos also have the American Podiatric Medical Association Seal of Acceptance.
7. Crocs Neria Pro II LiteRide Clog
You’ve known the Crocs brand for many years now. Whether or not you’re a fan of their distinguishable style, you can’t argue that these work clogs are a really good option for therapists. Their crowning glory is being much lighter than traditional clogs (and this undoubtedly lures people in who weren’t previously a fan of clogs). With an entirely closed-toe design, they’re professional on the outside and comfortable on the inside.
In standard Crocs fashion, the insoles are bright orange but they have lots of grooves, which make this style of footwear ultra comfortable. The bottoms don’t have quite as many treads as some of these other options do, so they may not be best for therapists doing a lot of heavy lifting or speed walking down the halls. They still do offer a firm, durable sole and a good deal of arch support, which makes them a solid choice for therapists who are on-the-go and want shoes that will stand the test of time.
As you can see, there are a lot of great footwear options to choose from, and even more that we didn’t cover. This is a good starting point to get you thinking of what to look for in shoes, especially in regards to features that are crucial to therapists such as anti-fatigue soles, cushioning and durability. Shoes can vary in size between brands, so be sure you are willing to potentially ask to exchange them or get a refund if you don’t get something that’s comfortable for you. Online shopping can be difficult for this, but thankfully, it’s easy to do quick returns with established places like Amazon.
What are your picks for the best shoes for occupational therapists? Let us know your favorites in the comments!
This post was co-authored by Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L and Brittany Ferri, OTR/L.