The best shoes for surgeons isn’t a one-size-fits-all. Different people have different footwear needs, so your choice of surgical shoes largely depends on your personal preference. We’ve put together a list of some of the best shoes for surgeons, along with a buying guide to help you make your decision.
Our top overall pick is the Merrell Encore Gust shoe. The slip-on design is comfortable and stylish, and the shoe has good support for surgeons who stand for hours.
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The 12 Best Shoes for Surgeons
Merrell Men’s Encore Gust Slip-On Shoe
These are the top surgeon shoes overall because of their ease and versatility. Each pair is made of high-quality leather, and special attention is given to the shoe supports. They help to keep the feet dry. The slip-on design is ideal for easy use, and the padded collar ensures that your feet stay properly grounded.
The Encore Gust combines all the features you want in a surgical shoe.
The leather uppers are moisture-resistant and durable. Genuine leather lasts much longer than synthetic leather, capable of working for years without wearing out. Unlike some stuffy leather shoes, these feature breathable mesh to keep your feet cool.
The rubber outsole is “stickier” than traditional rubber, allowing for more durable traction. This prevents you from sliding in slick flooring conditions. The enclosed heel and padded interior also keep you from “stepping out” of the shoe by accident.
Despite the rubber and leather construction, these clogs weigh only a pound. That can be attributed to the lightweight midsole and air cushion in the heel. These materials absorb shock and prevent fatigue without weighing down your feet.
The insole has also been contoured, which allows the shoe to conform to the unique shape of your foot. The product runs true-to-size and is designed for long-term wear in professional settings.
It’s also easy to clean. Just use a disinfecting wipe on the leather and the rubber.
- Crafted entirely from full-grain, imported leather
- Shock absorbing cushioning in the heel with a molded EVA foam sole
- Padded collar that supports the foot
- Waterproof construction
- Ortholite footbed allows for long periods of standing
Merrell Women’s Encore Nova 2 Slip-On Shoe
This pair of shoes is very similar in construction to the men’s Encore Gust, but designed for women instead. They’re one of the best picks for women with high arches, as the nylon arch shank provides extra support.
The contoured footbed and air cushion combine to provide stability over long periods of wear. In addition, the full grain leather upper is easily cleaned and moisture-resistant.
For more details about the design, you can look at the review for the Men’s Encore Gust, which is first on this list.
- Available in two colors
- Breathable lining wicks moisture away, helping with odor control
- Made from genuine full grain leather
- Shock absorbing air cushion in the heel for greater stability
- Contoured footbed has extra support for high arches
Crocs Work Medical Professional Shoe
Crocs are a perennial favorite of medical professionals, retail workers, and others who work long hours on their feet. This particular shoe is designed specifically for surgeons, doctors, and nurses.
The slip-on design is comfortable and professional, providing support during long shifts and operations. All shoes are designed and manufactured in the US. In addition to supporting a US company, you also don’t need to do any complicated size conversions.
The slip-on design doesn’t require any laces or customized fitting. At the same time, it covers and protects the entire foot. The enclosed heel and padded collar help to secure the foot so it doesn’t slip around.
Unlike traditional Crocs, these have no heel strap or perforations. They meet workplace standards for protection, and they’re stiff enough that they provide some protection against heavy impacts.
The tapered fit allows for a relaxed feel while keeping the foot secure. There’s ample room for your toes to move around, and properly-sized shoes shouldn’t pinch or chafe.
The slip-resistant treads are built for workplace environments that may be slippery, like hospital settings and restaurant kitchens. These shoes are also recommended for individuals who have a high risk of falling, whether that’s due to age, environment, or medical conditions.
Another upgrade from traditional Crocs is the footbed. There’s a combination of deep cushioning and Croslite foam that provides support along the entire foot. It prevents fatigue during long shifts and keeps your feet from getting sore.
Crocs are also highly affordable shoes, so they’re ideal for those who are shopping on a budget.
- Manmade material with a synthetic sole
- Smooth surface can be easily cleaned with soap and water
- Slip-resistant sole with an enclosed toe and heel, creating a secure fit
- Designed specifically for medical professionals working long shifts
- Cushioned footbeds with Croslite foam to provide support while standing
A popular choice among medical workers, these Crocs are easy to clean and built for long shifts.
Best Surgical Clogs
Birkenstock Unisex Clogs Super-Birki
These are the best surgical shoes if you’re looking for an option that’s easy to care for. Since the shoes can be wiped down with a cloth or machine washed, you shouldn’t have any trouble sterilizing them for the OR. The comfort and versatility of these shoes makes them a popular choice for nurses as well.
Unlike many clogs, these Birkenstocks are designed for both indoor and outdoor use. The Super Birki clogs can be easily cleaned and maintained.
The synthetic material is resistant to dirt, water, and oil. Like all Birkenstocks, these shoes include a comfortable cork footbed. However, you can remove the cork to wash it more easily, or to replace it with an orthotic insert.
The latex and cork footbed provides support for everything from flat feet to high arches. It’s made to mirror a healthy foot and promote a safe walking gait.
The toebox is wide and roomy, which prevents pinching and allows for better foot alignment and posture. Widened toeboxes also promote balance while standing.
A raised toe bar allows your toes to “grip” the shoes as you walk. This helps to stimulate circulation and exercise the legs while maintaining a comfortable, natural feel.
The deepened heel cup stabilizes and cushions the heel, absorbing shock below the heel bone. This makes it much easier to walk long distances without suffering fatigue.
As with the majority of Birkenstock designs, these shoes have a replaceable and repairable sole. Even if it wears down with constant use, you can replace it to lengthen the lifespan of the shoe.
- Unisex and available in ten unique colors
- One piece molding made from Alpro-Foam
- Slip-resistant textured sole is good for slippery floors
- Resistant to water, dirt, and oil
- Easily cleaned with a replaceable footbed made from cork
Slip resistant and washable up to 80 degrees celsius.
CALZURO Autoclavable Clog with Upper Ventilation
These unisex surgical clogs are among the most ventilated on the list. The perforated upper ensures that air keeps flowing, preventing feet from becoming sweaty even with long-term use. Even with the perforation, the shoes are waterproof. Air can enter, but moisture can’t.
The company that manufactures the shoes is Italian. Because of this, UK sizing is listed on the shoe. Since the US and UK have different shoe sizes, it’s important to double-check a sizing chart before you purchase. Calzuro provides Italian-American conversion charts for sizes.
The surgical clogs comply with the company’s high ethical standards. They’re made from environmentally friendly materials, free of metals, and sourced through cruelty-free means.
Another positive point is the anti-static aspect. These shoes don’t generate static electricity when dragged along the ground. They’re also free of latex, which is important if you have latex allergies.
The 1.5-inch heel raises the foot slightly to reduce overall fatigue. These shoes are specifically designed for surgeons and other medical professionals, so they’re comfortable to wear even if you have plantar fasciitis.
This Amazon review by Margarete highlights just how popular Calzuro clogs are among those in surgical rotation:
The sole is slip-resistant, with the entire shoe being molded from rubber.
Not only can you machine wash the shoe, you can also use bleach to disinfect it, place it in a hospital setting’s commercial dishwasher, or sterilize it using an autoclave. This makes it especially easy to maintain for surgeons who do several operations per day.
In addition to healthcare professionals, the shoes also suit veterinarians, chefs, and retail workers.
- Available in 16 different colors and patterns
- Environmentally-friendly and latex-free
- Fits those with feet of average width
- Can be sterilized using an autoclave
- Machine washable and capable of being disinfected with bleach
- 1.5 inch heel reduces overall fatigue
Dansko Women’s Professional Clog
These professional surgical clogs have a stunning variety in color choices. There are dozens of options to choose from, ranging from solid colors to patterns to unique metallic paint splatters. The reinforced toe box offers an additional level of protection for those who work with heavy equipment.
The Dansko Professional is the main offering from Dansko. It has a classic, sleek silhouette that looks great in any professional setting. This Amazon review by Elissa, an RN in NYC, says she receives tons of compliments on her Dansko Professional Clogs in the color Honey.
The toebox has been given special attention. It’s roomier than many other shoes, allowing the toes to spread out and breathe. Reinforced padding protects your toes from sharp objects, heavy impacts, and other mishaps.
The contoured midsole conforms to the shape of the average foot. Inside the shoe is a frame that provides support and stability, along with a padded instep collar to prevent friction.
The heel counter holds the heel stably in place while allowing it to move up and down. This prevents the foot from rolling inward or outward, protecting your ankles from injury.
One more unique aspect of the shoes is the rocker bottom. This feature helps to prevent fatigue by making it easier to stride forward. The springy design helps conserve your energy.
- Imported patent leather with a synthetic sole
- Your choice of fabric or leather uppers
- Dozens of different colors and patterns
- Padded collar prevents heel chafing and increases comfort
- Roomy and protective toe box ideal for those with wider feet
Related: Shop These 9 Best Shoes for Doctors
OOFOS Unisex Active Recovery Footwear
This is a return to the more typical clog style seen in many surgical settings. But this particular design is built with a more specific user in mind. These shoes for surgeons are made for those with foot conditions like plantar fasciitis, which can make standing for long periods of time difficult.
If you’re looking for a shoe that absorbs heel pain and provides exceptional cushioning, this is your best bet.
You can pick from your choice of black, latte, or black with a matte finish. The “latte” color is a glossy, creamy white with black speckles.
OOFOS designs their active recovery footwear using scientific principles. The goal is to create a shoe that reduces the painful effects of exercise. By using different methods of support, the shoes reduce joint fatigue, muscle tightness, and overall soreness after a workout or long shift.
One of the important aspects of the shoe is the arch support. When you walk without adequate arch support, you increase the pressure on your ankles and knees. You also force your muscles to overcompensate for the lack of cushioning.
For people who work on their feet, like surgeons and other healthcare professionals, supportive footwear can prevent long-term injuries. It can reduce joint pain and stop conditions like plantar fasciitis and shortened muscles from occurring.
Lab tests have proven that the OOFOS active recovery shoes relieve plantar fasciitis. They also help athletes and professionals to recover from lower leg injuries or ongoing lower leg pain.
Even if you don’t have a foot condition, the superior support of these shoes is ideal. It can make a huge difference in terms of keeping your feet healthy.
- Unisex design available in three stylish, professional colors
- Crafted from leather and synthetic material with a rubber sole
- Impact recovery technology helps to absorb the impact of your stride
- Strong arch support and heel support for those with high arches and plantar fasciitis
- Machine washable and easily sanitized
A clog designed specifically to combat Plantar Fasciitis - impact absorbing orthopedic foot & heel pain relief.
Best Sneakers for Surgery
Many surgeons prefer to wear their favorite running shoes throughout the whole day, including in the operating room. For those who expect lots of spills, it is recommended to cover your feet with a pair of disposable shoe covers. Even surgeons who work in cystoscopy have found this to be their #1 strategy for standing all day and keeping their feet clean and dry.
Allbirds Tree Dashers
The performance has been tested over a yearlong period with more than 50 athletes from all walks of life. Testers walked and ran thousands of miles before the shoes hit the market.
These sneakers are a great choice if you’re looking for surgical shoes that don’t resemble traditional clogs. The design is easy to slip into and machine washable, but the shoes are much more attractive than many orthopedic options on the market. With your choice of sixteen different colors and patterns, it’s easy to find one that matches your personal style.
The Tree Dashers are technically proficient sneakers with a unique design. According to the manufacturer, the goal was to reimagine running shoes by creating a high-performance shoe out of natural materials.
The one-piece upper is knitted using eucalyptus trees. The result is a shoe that’s more lightweight than the competition, flexible enough to conform to your stride, and breathable enough to keep your feet cool during long shifts.
The foam midsole uses dual-density technology to provide targeted support. It’s crafted from sugarcane, making it the first carbon-negative EVA foam in the world.
The heel has additional support from merino wool. This tough material supports and centers the heel, “locking” the foot so it doesn’t slide around.
The soles combine the SweetFoam materials with natural rubber, helping to stabilize your stride without adding to the weight.
Rather than being mounted on the outside, the eyelets are embroidered into the internal portion of the shoe. This allows you to customize your internal fit with the laces, so the shoe is anchored regardless of your foot shape.
- Men’s shoes available in sixteen different color combinations
- Attractive sneakers that are easy to slip on
- Breathable, durable, environmentally friendly materials
- Springy sole conforms to your movements and reduces fatigue
- Machine washable, with odor minimizing properties
Adidas Ultraboost can be a bit of a splurge compared to the other sneakers for surgeons on our list. That said, these sneakers are among the top choice for medical workers in the operating room. They have phenomenal cushioning and look great both at work as well as out on a run.
Their all-white color option even made our list of the best white nursing shoes for 2022.
According to this Amazon Review, you can also rest assured that there is no break-in period and you can hit the ground running on your next shift!
- Sleek design
- Top performance sneaker design
- Highly recommended by OR doctors
- Rubber sole
Skechers Work Felton
For those who want a more traditional sneaker design, this offering from Skechers is a great choice. Traditional sneakers are often difficult to clean, however, since this shoe is made of faux leather and designed for working environments, it’s easy to maintain. There’s also a slip-resistant outsole that’s been tested ASTM F1677-2005, meaning it provides traction even on oily and wet surfaces.
These shoes are specifically designed for surgeons on-the-go. Thanks to the easy cleaning, they’re great for healthcare professionals like nurses and surgeons. The design offers support, comfort, and ideal slip resistance.
These shoes are best described as a cross between athletic gear and professional work wear. They have the same support and shock absorption that athletes usually seek, but they also have the durability associated with professional footwear.
Skechers designs shoes with different “fit” levels. These are in the Relaxed Fit category. Rather than conforming tightly to the foot, the interior is roomy and comfortable. There’s space to spread your toes, and you’re less likely to overheat.
The shoes feature a traditional lacing system for stability and security. Because of this, if you want the ease of a slip-on, these might not be the best choice for you.
The tongue and collar are both padded to prevent chafing and blisters against the ankle, even if you don’t wear socks. Also included is a synthetic toe bumper that protects against harsh impacts.
The insole can be removed and replaced with orthotics. It’s cushioned and includes memory foam. The midsole has shock-absorbing properties, while the outsole is slip-resistant and high-traction.
- Easily-cleaned faux leather construction with a rubber sole
- Professional sneaker available in black or white
- Memory foam cushioning with a roomy, comfortable fit
- Padded tongue and collar to reduce friction and discomfort
- Safety rated and tested to meet important non-slip standards, even on slick surfaces
Budget-friendly sneakers designed for superior slip resistance.
ASICS Women’s Gel-Venture 6 Running Shoe
Despite being marketed as a running shoe, this offering from ASICS makes a great shoe for surgeons. The sneaker style can be easily slipped on and off. As a sporty shoe, it has a high-traction sole that provides stability on wet surfaces. It’s also available in a wide variety of colors, and it’s an affordable option for those who can’t buy a more expensive design.
The shoes are built for runners who often run on mountains, gravel, and rugged trails. As such, they have high-abrasion rubber outsoles that can stand up to wear-and-tear. The outsoles also have reversed lugs to allow uphill and downhill traction.
The gel cushioning system, while designed for runners, is also ideal for surgeons. It absorbs the shock as your foot hits the ground, preventing painful sensations from traveling to your joints.
The sockliner allows you to wear the shoes without socks. It’s removable and can be replaced with customized orthotics if need be.
As with most running shoes, these are manufactured with a focus on performance. They weigh only nine ounces, significantly less than most professional-grade clogs.
They may not have the same level of protection, though. If you’re concerned about dropping sharp or heavy objects on your feet, you’ll want to focus on a shoe with more protection.
Ultimately, these are the ideal shoes for surgeons who prefer the feel of a lightweight running shoe to a professional pair of clogs. They’re also ideal for any medical professional who spends a lot of time walking and running from place to place.
Nurses, for example, can walk several miles in just one shift. It makes sense to have cushioned and shock-absorbing shoes, especially ones light enough to prevent your feet from tiring.
- Available in a whopping 27 color combinations
- Synthetic upper with a high-traction rubber sole
- Gel cushioning system cushions shock while moving and allows a smooth transition through your stride
- Sock liner can be removed and replaced with a customized orthotic
- High-abrasion rubber outsole prevents degradation and improves durability
Skechers Afterburn Sneakers
This sneaker design slips on easily and is available in eleven neutral color combinations.
The 2-inch heel helps to reduce strain in the calves. For those with plantar fasciitis or shortened calf muscles, the heel can provide relief from pain and inflammation. It may also assist with posture, reducing fatigue on the knees and hips.
The upper is crafted from a combination of synthetic and leather materials. It may be difficult for surgeons to wash by hand, so keep in mind how often you’ll need to sanitize your footwear.
The fabric lining is soft enough that the shoes can be worn without socks. A padded tongue and collar also prevent chafing against exposed skin.
The insole uses Skechers memory foam. Though the sole is designed using durable rubber, it’s also flexible enough to offer a comfortable fit. This shoe is ideal for people who don’t like the stiff feeling of clogs and tougher professional sneakers.
The upper has been perforated for maximum breathability. There’s also additional stitching to prevent wear-and-tear over time.
The built-in heel isn’t visible from the outside, but it can offer significant relief for those who need extra heel support. The angle keeps the heel from rolling fully downward, so it’s good for people with shortened muscles and calf contractures.
The heel cushioning also allows for maximum shock absorption when walking and running. If you typically stand with your weight on your heels in the operating room, the cushioning can prevent pain and fatigue.
- Stylish sneaker available in eleven neutral combinations
- 2-inch heel provides extra support and reduces strain on the joints
- Manmade upper with a rubber sole and soft interior lining
- Memory foam cushioning lines the insole
- Lace-up closure allows the shoes to be easily slipped on and off
New Balance Men’s MW928 Walking Shoe
This walking shoe is available in four different brown, black, and white configurations. It’s designed with genuine leather and a rubber sole, both of which are easy to clean. Though the shoe isn’t made specifically for medical professionals, it provides ideal support and cushioning when you’re walking and standing for long periods of time.
The design incorporates New Balance’s patented ABZORB cushioning. This midsole combines cushioning with compression resistance, so it doesn’t wear down over time. The goal is to create a shoe that’s just as comfortable eight hours into a shift as it was during the first hour.
The shoe also incorporates New Balance’s ROLLBAR technology. This specialized arch support stabilizes the foot and corrects your gait, preventing your foot from rolling outward.
If you’re prone to ankle injuries, the stability of this shoe is extremely helpful. The same is true for people who struggle with other gait abnormalities. The design naturally corrects your stride to help you conserve energy and promote joint health.
The rubber outsole has been reinforced in heavy-wear places so it will last longer. By reinforcing only high-wear areas, New Balance has kept the shoe lightweight.
Included with the design is a synthetic foam footbed that can be removed if you want to use custom orthotics. The cushioning helps extend the length of time that you can stand or walk without soreness.
The inside uses a soft liner with very few seams. This prevents irritation when you wear the shoes barefoot. In addition, the interior has been given an odor-resistant treatment to keep your feet feeling comfortable.
- Men’s sneaker designed for stability when walking
- Crafted from genuine leather, with significant cushioning inside
- Available in four neutral color combinations
- ROLLBAR technology helps stabilize gait issues to keep your foot from turning outward or inward
- Reinforcements on high-wear portions of the outsole to increase shoe life
K-Swiss Men’s ST329 CMF Training Shoe
This sporty shoe is easy to slip on and off. More importantly, the molded EVA foam midsole reduces pressure on the feet and provides extra stability during long shifts. In addition, the design is available in 22 different colors. A combination of leather and synthetic leather makes the shoes easy to clean between shifts.
The shoe originally reached the market as a piece of tennis training gear. Since then, it’s been marketed toward athletes and active professionals across many industries.
The full leather upper can be easily wiped down with sanitizing cloths. A traditional lacing system provides a flexible fit. If you want slip-ons, though, this isn’t the shoe for you.
The outsole is made out of gum rubber, with a sturdy tread that increases stability. The shoes perform well in rainy and slippery conditions thanks to the traction.
The midsole uses EVA foam cushioning to conform to the unique shape of your foot. Underneath, the footbed is made of firm memory foam, which acts as a shock absorber and support layer.
The support is the biggest selling point and why it made our list of the best shoes for surgeons. By combining EVA foam and memory foam, K-Swiss has created an athletic shoe that prevents fatigue. It’s easier to engage in high-impact exercises like running, and standing is much easier thanks to the reduced pressure on the feet.
These shoes are also an affordable option for those on a budget. And thanks to the many colors, you can find a pair to match any aesthetic.
- Men’s shoe made from a combination of genuine leather and synthetic leather
- High-traction rubber sole with extra rubber padding on high-wear places
- Textile lining on the collar reduces chafing
- Memory foam liner and molded EVA midsole provide excellent comfort and stability
- Available in 22 different colors and styles
Helpful Buying Guide to the Best Surgeon Shoes
As a surgeon, you have different footwear needs than the average shoe buyer. Surgeons need to make sure their footwear can be easily sanitized. They also need comfortable support when standing for long periods of time during an operation.
We’ve broken down some of the key features to consider when looking for the best shoes for your practice. How do you decide which shoe best suits your needs?
Clog or Sneaker Design
Surgical clogs and sneakers are the two most popular types of shoe on the market. Either one can be an asset in a surgical setting.
The Benefits of Clogs for Surgeons
Some medical professionals prefer clogs for their slip resistance and ease of use.
The outsoles of a surgical clog are often slip-resistant and tested to provide traction on slippery surfaces. They’re ideal for professional settings that may have wet and oily floors. Clogs are also more likely to have high heels.
Clogs are often built using denser materials. Though they may be heavier, they also tend to have firmer support. Nearly every pair of clogs on the market is built with arch support, and the shoes tend to have a longer lifespan. This makes clogs ideal for people who stand in one place for long periods of time.
Clogs tend to be easier to step into than sneakers. They don’t have laces, instead conforming to the shape of the foot.
One big reason that clogs are preferred by medical professionals is because of the cleaning. Clogs are usually made from one smooth material. Suede, leather, and polyurethane are all moisture-resistant and easy to sanitize.
The Drawbacks of Clogs for Surgeons
Surgical clogs tend to serve fewer functions and they are mostly made for indoor use. You would not hit the gym in your clogs after your last work shift.
Clogs also tend to not have a closed heel. Because of this, you risk injuring your ankle.
The Benefits of Sneakers for Surgeons
Some surgeons prefer sneakers for their stability and support. They tend to be sporty, athletic shoes that are designed to be worn both indoors and outdoors.
The outsoles of a sneaker tend to have strong treads and a low heel. Some may be reinforced with heavy-duty rubber for extra stability.
Sneakers are often designed with removable insoles, which you can replace with customized orthotics. In addition, sneaker manufacturers tend to prioritize lightweight materials so that athletes don’t tire as easily.
Because sneakers have the lace up design, they can sometimes give you a firmer, more customized fit than you’d get with a clog. The shoe’s stability is also increased by the lacing system, making it ideal for those who need extra gait support.
The Drawbacks of Sneakers for Surgeons
Because most sneakers are not of the slip-on variety (assuming you are properly untying your shoes when you take them off each time), they can be a bit more difficult to put on. Tying and untying your shoes may not seem like a burden, but depending on what liquids splash on your shoes on a given shift, you may not want to have to be touching them any more than necessary!
Speaking of yucky messes, sneakers can also be more difficult to clean than clogs. Most sneakers are made up of different pieces of fabric that can be more difficult to clean than leather.
Slip resistance is a must for surgeon shoes as well as for other medical professional footwear. The floor of the operating room, hospital, or doctor’s office will often be slick. It’s vital that your shoes provide stability even in slippery conditions.
What many people don’t realize is that slip resistance can actually be measured. There are standardized tests done to quantify the resistance of a pair of shoes.
By understanding these measurements, you can look for shoes that meet the most stringent testing qualifications.
“Slip resistance” is a scientific term that refers to how much resistance a shoe exerts against the ground when you walk. This is measured as a coefficient of friction, or COF. A shoe’s COF tells you how much traction the sole gets on the floor.
Rather than being deemed “slip resistant” or “not slip resistant,” shoes are given a slip resistance rating by measuring on a scale. This is good because it allows you to look for especially high-traction shoes in the workplace, rather than settling for a middling pair.
The bottom of the scale is 0.00, which refers to icy and extremely slippery conditions. The top is 1.00, which refers to dry and rough terrain like carpeting. A higher number indicates that the shoe has better slip resistance.
The US does not have any national standards regarding the slip resistance measurement that professional footwear must meet. That’s why it’s important to research slip resistance yourself and stay informed as a consumer.
Some of the factors that affect a shoe’s slip resistance include:
- The tread pattern
- How much contact the outsole has with the floor
- What material the outsole is made out of
Many manufacturers publish the slip resistance rating of their shoes. You may be able to see their full test results as well.
A pair of shoes with an NFSI product certification has been tested and certified as high-traction shoes. The NFSI is an organization that independently tests slip resistance of shoes and other products.
The design of the upper parts of the shoe also makes a big difference. The upper part of a shoe, usually called “the upper,” is the portion of the shoe over the sole. It includes every part of the shoe that covers your foot.
Medical professionals like surgeons will generally want an upper that covers the entire foot. Not only does this provide insulation against the cold, but it also provides protection.
Workplace protection is important when working with heavy machinery and sharp tools. If you drop a scalpel on your foot, you want shoes that are durable enough to protect your toes.
Some uppers have a reinforced toebox, which provides extra protection against heavy objects and sharp impacts. The Dansko Professional Clogs are designed with a protective toebox. A roomy toebox is preferable to a narrow one. Narrow toeboxes can constrict the foot and lead to pinching, discomfort, and even bunions.
Many materials can comprise an upper. Sneakers and other athletic shoes often have lightweight, breathable mesh. This keeps the feet cool during tough workouts, but it’s not always the strongest option.
Leather and synthetic materials are often favored by surgeons. These are easy to clean, and they’re also durable enough to withstand the wear-and-tear of long shifts.
Flip flops and sandals may have uppers made of straps. Since these shoes leave parts of the foot exposed, they aren’t ideal for a professional environment.
Waterproof materials are preferable in surgical settings. A waterproof shoe won’t leak fluid onto your skin, and it’s less likely to absorb potentially hazardous material.
Waterproof shoes are also easier to wear in rainy and wet conditions.
There is an important difference between waterproof and water-resistant materials.
A waterproof pair of shoes will not absorb water even if fully submerged. Some of the most common waterproof shoe materials are polyurethane, neoprene, other synthetics, and rubber.
You can wear waterproof shoes in wet conditions for long periods of time, and your feet will remain completely dry. The outside of the shoe will also typically repel water, so the design dries quickly.
Many waterproof materials are smooth and stiff. They may not be the most comfortable options on the market. Some shoe manufacturers are making an effort to create more flexible waterproof coatings.
There are also ways to put waterproof coatings on your non-waterproofed shoes at home. But it’s often easier and more foolproof to simply buy shoes that are already waterproofed.
Waterproofing, like slip resistance, is measured on a scale of 0 to 8. Shoes with a rating of IPX-0 have no water resistance. Shoes with a rating of IPX-8 are totally waterproofed.
The Merrel Men’s Encore Gust have the best waterproofing on our list.
Water-resistant shoes are not necessarily waterproof. They have some protection against moisture, but water can get into the shoes when they’re submerged.
For most surgical and hospital settings, water-resistant shoes will be fine. They may also be made from more comfortable and flexible fabrics. But if you’re often working in wet conditions, true waterproofing is the best option.
Ease of Cleaning
Everything in a surgical setting needs to be sanitized. Because of this, it’s vital that you purchase shoes that are easy to clean.
Some factors that influence the ease of cleaning are:
- The smoothness of the outside and the soles
- The materials used in construction
- Whether the shoes are machine-washable
- How easy the design is to disinfect
Shoe manufacturers will typically provide guidance on how to clean the shoes. Shoes designed for medical professionals are often built with a focus on easy cleaning.
Some shoes will be made of synthetic or leather materials that can’t be washed in a machine. These can usually be wiped down with disinfecting wipes or sprays.
Many surgeons have multiple pairs of shoes that they rotate between long stints in the operating room. This ensures that you always have clean shoes on hand and don’t have to constantly go through the same disinfecting rituals. When looking at the ease of cleaning, the best shoes for surgeons should be shoes that do not take too much of your time to clean or keep presentable.
Specific Foot Needs
It’s common for certain conditions to affect your ability to walk.
For example, plantar fasciitis causes pain in the heel when standing and walking. High arches can cause fatigue if you don’t have proper support. Bunions can cause pain and make shoes fit poorly.
Some people may also have conditions that affect their endurance. Arthritis can cause joint pain, especially when you’re on your feet constantly. Shortened calf muscles can cause your legs to tire easily. General lack of muscle tone can make it difficult to walk long distances without getting winded.
And still other conditions can affect your stride itself. Some people have feet that roll outward or inward, which predisposes them to twisted ankles.
These are a few guidelines for different foot needs:
- High arches – heavy arch support and/or ROLLBAR technology
- Plantar fasciitis – shock absorbing cushioning in the heel
- Bunions – roomy and reinforced toebox
- Rolling ankles – extra ankle support and gait correcting technology
- Shortened calf muscles – high, padded heels
- Sensitive skin – padded, frictionless tongue and collar with a soft interior lining
- Excess sweating – moisture-wicking lining
- Arthritis – cushioned, posture-supporting footwear
- Muscle fatigue – lightweight shoes with even weight distribution
You’ll want to prioritize shoes that allow you to be comfortable when you’re on your feet for long periods of time. Since everyone’s feet are different, you have to be aware of your specific needs.
The best surgeon shoes in the world won’t serve you well if they’re exacerbating a condition that makes standing difficult. These shoes by OOFOS are perfect for plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis.
A clog designed specifically to combat Plantar Fasciitis - impact absorbing orthopedic foot & heel pain relief.
Best Shoes for Surgeons FAQ
What shoes do most surgeons wear?
Most surgeons prefer waterproof clogs, boots, or sneakers (with disposable foot coverings) in the operating room to shield their feet from fluids.
Do surgeons wear Crocs?
Some hospitals ban Crocs, but for those that allow Crocs, many surgeons choose to wear them (as long as they are without the ventilation holes).
Why do surgeons wear Dansko Clogs?
Dansko Professional Clogs offer a stable, waterproof clog with a reinforced toe box that keeps feet dry all day. They are among the most professional-looking clogs for healthcare workers.
When it comes to the best shoes for surgeons, our top pick is the Merrell’s Encore. These genuine leather shoes are available in designs for both women and men. They have a comfortable fit, padding, and enough support to cushion your feet. In addition, the leather construction makes them easy to clean, and they slip on and off with no trouble.
For those with foot conditions like plantar fasciitis or high arches, we recommend the OOFOS Active Recovery footwear. The extra heel cushioning helps reduce shock and pain, and there’s extra arch support in the middle. Shoes with elevated heels can help with shock absorption for those with shortened calf muscles.
Even running and sporting shoes can be good for surgical use, as long as they’re easy to clean. Many of these shoes are designed to provide maximum support and to correct your stride. You’re unlikely to injure your ankles, and the lining of a running shoe will often wick away sweat.
We hope with this guide of the best shoes for surgeons, you can make an informed decision on your next pair of kicks! Happy shopping.