Healthcare professionals don’t just think fast on their feet—they’re on them most of the day, too! R.N.s and therapists are an active bunch, and naturally need a good pair of shoes—if not for the travel nursing job than for the site seeing and physical activities, like fitness walking, that come with the travel nurse lifestyle. Because the average size adult will encounter between 900,000 and 1,350,00 pounds of impact over a three-mile walk, a great fitting and well-made walking shoe makes all the difference. Welcome to the second installment of Healthy Careers series on walking tips. If you missed the first part of this series, read the first blog at Expert Walking Tips.
Walking Tip 1: Learn the Parts of a Shoe and What They Are Meant to Do
Healthcare professionals are well advised to familiarize themselves with different parts of the shoe to avoid discomfort and injury. Here are the isolated parts of your walking shoes and what they should be doing for your foot.
- Achilles notch: the back part of the shoe that reduces stress on the Achilles tendon.
- Ankle collar: cushions the ankle and ensures proper fit
- Midsole: is in the heel and forefoot and provides most of the shock absorption in walking shoes. A cushioned heel with a flexible forefoot helps accommodate your natural stride.
- Insole: cushions and supports your foot and arch. Removable insoles are ideal because you can wash them and pop them right back in.
- Outsole: makes contact with the ground; grooves and treads can help maintain traction. If the outsole is worn through, it’s time for a new pair.
- Toebox: This part of the show should be roomy and round. If it’s not high enough and doesn't provide enough room for your toes, the toebox may cause calluses.
- Upper: holds the shoe on your foot and is usually made of leather; however look for mesh instead. It ventilates better and is lighter weight.
Ensuring the Best Fit Based on Your Arch
Walking shoes should provide stability and cushioning and have the proper “last”. In shoe terminology last means: the mold or template for creating the shoe, or shape of a shoe. Here’s a list of different types of arches and how to choose a shoe that accommodates your arch.
- Normal arch: Any last will work; just make sure you find shoes with firm midsoles.
- Low-arch or “flat feet”: Look for a straight last to help stabilize your feet. A straight last shoe is symmetrical relative to a line drawn on the bottom of the shoe, from the middle of the heel to the middle of the toe.
- High-arch: Look for cushioning to compensate for your lack of natural shock absorption, and a curved last.
Walk the Healthy Career Path with Happier Feet: A Few Things to Remember When You’re Shoe Shopping
Whether you’re walking for fitness or just going about your business in busy healthcare jobs, you want a light weight shoe that provides cushioning and shock absorption. When you go shoe shopping, try to wear the same socks you'll wear when walking, or take them with you to the store. Shop for shoes after you've been walking for a while, or later in the day when your feet are at their largest. Of course, you’ll want to try on both shoes and wiggle your toes, with the idea that if you don't have at least a half-inch between your longest toe and the end of the shoe, it’s time to go a size up. Remember that healthy careers are a matter of being happy and healthy from head to toe, so happy shoe shopping!
Footnote: Facts presented in this article came from Paul Langer, DPM’s book: Great Feet for Life, a sneaker guide featured in the Huffington Post and diagram and walking shoe tips from the Mayo Clinic.