Best Shoes for Retail Workers on Feet All Day

Retail workers are in the public eye, and often expected to be fashionable. But many shoe styles and fashions don’t provide the comfort, support, and stability that retail workers need to be on their feet all day. Many styles of the shoe are often bad for your long-term health when worn all day in a retail environment.

We’re taking a look at the latest shoe styles and trends, and what the experts say about what to wear for your best foot health. Then we go on to find out what features are crucial in the best shoes for retail workers and find the styles that are a perfect fit.

Retail involves long periods of standing, mixed with walking, lifting, and it all adds up to being on your feet all day. Retail workers are also in the public eye at work, so their shoes need to be fashionable as well as functional. However, many shoes that are fashionable and look great when dressing for style are unhealthy for your feet. While it’s certainly expected to wear certain shoes for a special occasion or event, there are certain shoes that should not be worn by retail workers all day.

Best Shoes for Female Retail Workers

Why Not Wear High Heels?

While nearly half of women under 24 wear high heels every day, and a third of women wear high heels to work, they have long-term negative effects on the body.

Elevating the heel over 2 inches changes the weight distribution of the body and throws the spine out of alignment. They increase the downward pressure on the balls of the foot, instead of evenly distributing it throughout the whole foot; this places additional pressure on the knees. The lower back arches more deeply backward to compensate, and the chest arches forward in turn to restore vertical balance. This poor alignment forces the spine to curve more dramatically than is natural or healthy.

Daily wearing of high heeled shoes can cause the calf muscles to shorten and lower leg tendons to thicken from the prolonged strain. Increased pressure on the spine can cause spinal vertebrae to slip and cause lower back pain, or even nerve conditions in the back. In addition, the increased pressure in the ball of the foot can erode our natural cushioning over time, cause heel pain and heel spurs, and even nerve conditions in the toes.

Why Not Wear Flat Shoes?

For women who habitually wear high heels, flat shoes can feel uncomfortable, because high heels shorten the muscles and tendons in the back of the leg, so natural, full extension starts to feel like an uncomfortable stretch. And while flat shoes may seem like a healthier alternative than high heels, they present their own set of problems when worn all day every day by retail workers.

Most flat shoes have no arch support and no cushioning, which can have long-term negative consequences for foot health. In the short term, they can cause pain and blisters. Over time and long-term wear, flat shoes are a primary cause of plantar fasciitis, and even fallen arches. When the arches “fall,” it means that the tendons in the foot are damaged and overstrained, and can no longer provide the springy support the foot needs, so the foot becomes flatter and longer.

Why Not Wear Stilettos?

Believe it or not, it’s not just the height of the heels that matters, but the shape as well. Even a low-heeled stiletto, like a kitten heel, can have long-term damaging effects on your feet.

The reason is that our weight naturally rolls through the foot with each stride, causing a shift in pressure distribution, not just forward from heel to toe, but also laterally, shifting slightly from outside to inside. A narrow, pointy heel prevents this natural lateral movement by forcing your heel to remain balanced in only a single pressure point. This reduces stability in the foot and increases lateral pressure in the ankle and outside of the lower leg to provide the needed stability.

Narrow, pointy heels, even low ones, increase the risk of ankle strain and sprain.

Why Not Wear Platform Shoes?

While platforms are convenient for getting the look of a high heel without exaggerating or distorting the shape of the foot as much, platforms aren’t without their risks and consequences either.

Platforms and wedges tend to have extremely rigid soles, with no cushioning. This forces the foot to absorb all the shock of every step and resisting the natural range of motion of the foot as you walk. If a platform is combined with a very high heel, it also increases pressure on the ball of the foot without providing any additional protection or shock absorption.

Why Not Wear Pointy-toed Shoes?

Pointy toes come in and out of fashion and are particularly challenging for those with wide feet. But pointy-toed shoes cause long-term problems for feet of any width, particularly if the shoe is made of a rigid material with no flexibility.

As you walk, the ball of your foot naturally expands and spreads a bit when it is under pressure. Narrow toe boxes in shoes constrict this natural expansion, causing a range of foot and toe problems. Pointy shoes can cause nerve inflammation, along with a number of other problems.

Bunion

A bunion form when the bones and tissues of the toes are compressed for long periods, actually displacing the bones of the feet, causing a painful bump at the base of the big toe.

Hammer’s Toes

Hammer’s toes are another result of unnatural bends in the toes for prolonged periods, as the joints of the toes are compressed and lose their flexibility, becoming inflamed and painful.

Corns

Corn is a type of callus that can form on top of or in between toes, caused by the pressure of the toes rubbing against each other or rubbing against the shoe.

Crossover Toe

Over time, compressed toes can actually overlap each other, causing a condition called “crossover toe” where the toe remains crossed even when you aren’t wearing the shoe. Severe cases need to be corrected with surgery.

Ingrown Toenail

Abnormal pressure on the toes can cause ingrown toenails. This painful condition is caused when the toenail grows abnormally into the skin, causing inflammation and sometimes even infection.

These conditions can be caused by pointy-toed shoes in men and women, and can also be a result of simply wearing shoes that don’t fit properly and don’t provide adequate room for toe flexion and movement.

Why Not Wear Flip-flops and Sandals?

While “sandals” is a broad term that encompasses a range of shoe features, flip-flops, and many sandals have an unusual design that requires you to grip with your toes to keep the shoe in place. This unusual foot position causes excess strain on the feet, altering your gait in a way that can cause strain in the lower legs.

Not only do flip-flops alter your gait in an unhealthy way, but these shoes often have no support at all for the structures of the feet, and have the potential to prematurely stress and wear the vital tendons and ligaments in the foot.

What to Look For in a Shoe for Retail

These are all the styles of shoes that foot and health experts advise retail workers not to wear. With such a long list, it may seem like there are too many limitations and not enough options. But there is actually a wide range of shoes that are fashionable, comfortable, and healthy for a retail worker to wear all day. Here is what to look for in a shoe for retail.

Support

  • What it is

The bottom of the foot is not a flat plane; it’s a sophisticated series of slopes and curves. These curves perform a variety of functions; they provide elasticity, shock absorption and impact protection, and aid in the smooth transfer of motion and energy into the body. A shoe that is made to conform to the inner structures of the feet and aid in these functions is supportive.

  • Why it matters

Most retail jobs involve being on your feet all day, whether standing or moving. This prolonged use of the feet, as they bear weight, provide cushioning, absorb shock, and stabilize balance can stress and strain the feet. Supportive shoes do some of that work, taking pressure off the feet themselves and reducing pain and stress.

Support in the arches is important when you’re spending prolonged periods of time on your feet. Therefore, it is essential that you invest in the right pair of shoes that are constructed with enough arch support. Otherwise, the effect of every step you take will apply a lot of strain in the heels as well as the front of the foot.

Fit

  • What it is

It may seem obvious that a shoe should fit properly, and yet millions of people wear ill-fitting shoes every day. Shoes should cradle the feet without pinching or binding, providing enough room for some movement of the toes inside the shoe, but without so much room that the heel slides within the shoe. Have your feet measured properly, try shoes on for the right fit, and don’t try to wear work shoes through a painful “break-in” period.

  • Why it matters

Shoes that are too small can pinch and bind the feet, causing pain and cramping, corns and calluses, and eventually distorting the proper shape of the shoe. Shoes that are too big can cause blisters and uncomfortable rubbing, and you may have to alter your natural gait in order to keep the shoe on. Either way, it’s uncomfortable and unhealthy to sustain all day at a retail job.

Breathability

  • What it is

Breathable shoes allow the air inside the shoe to be exchanged with air outside the shoe, even while you are wearing them. Breathable shoes don’t necessarily need to be open or ventilated; natural materials are breathable, and some artificial fibers are breathable as well.

  • Why it matters

Breathable shoes allow heat and moisture to escape from inside the shoe, keeping your foot cooler and drier throughout the day. This makes the shoes more comfortable to wear, prevents unpleasant odors, and can even prevent moisture-related problems like athlete’s foot. If you are on your feet all day working retail, breathable shoes help keep you comfortable.

Comfort

  • What it is

Comfort is simple. It’s wearing shoes that don’t cause pain, discomfort, or awkwardness in your feet or gait. When you are wearing comfortable shoes, you barely notice them.

  • Why it matters

Not only are comfortable shoes healthier for your feet when you’re wearing them all day at work, but they are better for your mind as well. When your feet hurt, it can be difficult to concentrate, or you can have a shorter temper than you might otherwise. When you are working in retail and dealing with the public, you don’t need any additional irritations or distractions. Comfortable shoes let you focus where you need to.

Nature of Your Feet

Before you select the ideal shoes, it’s important that you know your walking style and feet. Namely, the comfortability features of the shoes will mean nothing if your feet have certain features. If you have flat feet, for example, you would need to think about picking shoes that have a higher arch. Also, picking a pair of shoes based on the nature of your feet will help you make the best possible choice.

Conclusion

Retail workers need shoes that are comfortable, supportive, durable, and stylish. At first glance, that may seem to be an impossible standard to meet, but more and more shoe designers are adapting to meet this need, creating a variety of options.

A retail worker can look great, work hard, maintain a smile, and look after their body at the same time. It just requires the right pair of shoes.

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