Why we've designed work shoes and what makes a "good" work shoe!

October 30 2021

women's work shoes

Why we've designed our new work and everyday shoe range

We've been designing and manufacturing women's work boots now for 8 years (wow time flies!) and we often receive comments and feedback from women working in health services, retail, hospitality or education who are wearing our she wear safety boots for comfort and support, even though they don't require the safety toe protection.  So that got us thinking .. why not re-engineer our women's work boots and take that every day comfort and support, and turn into a stylish all day kick?!  Sounds easy right .. but it took us a while to perfect?!?! 

So we've spent 18 months tweaking the look, feel and support of our new sneaker to ensure comfort for all day wear.  We knew women would love the stylish and fashionable aesthetics of the new work shoe but we wanted to ensure the support and comfort was as good as our renowned work boots.  

 

 

Work shoes vs running/athletic shoes - what's the difference?

Work shoes are constructed very differently to an athletic or running shoe.  Work shoes are specifically fit-for-purpose for all day wear for a long day, or a long shift and must be manufactured using quality materials known for durability and longevity. 

Work shoes should have a more rigid heel counter for stability and to keep you balanced while you're on your feet all day.  It is a common misconception that the soft "goo-ey" comfort underfoot that a running shoe offers is good for all day wear .. it's actually the opposite!  Work shoes should have firm underfoot comfort and support in all the right places, particularly to suit a woman's foot shape - like arch support and a cradled heel cup to alleviate heel roll.

It is important to wear shoes that are designed for the desired and intended use.  Running or athletic shoes traditionally made with an EVA or foam sole (a foam material made from thousands of bubbles of air which will condense and flatten over time) are perfect for short stints of exercise or when you're on your feet for a short period of time.  A quality, well constructed and designed women's work shoe should be made with a more condensed material (such as PU or rubber) which will not flatten over time and is naturally shock absorbing.  Insoles or footbeds should help align your feet and back for correct posture, and be designed to suit the shape and contours of a woman's foot (which is anatomically different to a man's foot).

It is extremely important to wear the right shoe for you.  Look for quality materials, look for thoughtful and considered design and look for fit and function.  Our certified women's work shoes will get you through your longest day in comfort and will also keep you safe from slips and falls!

And if you just love a good looking kick and know you'll be on your feet running around town, running after your kids, or just running from 1 thing to the next .. our work shoes really are the perfect women's fashion sneaker!

 

Roadtest and advice from a podiatrist

Kristen Stone podiatrist

 

We asked podiatrist Kristen from Hunter Podiatry Services to road test our She Supports all day sneakers.  Here's what she said ...

"3 days of road testing she wear’s everyday work and play shoe, the She Supports!!! And the only thing that has changed in 3 days is my socks. I have not taken these babies off my feet! Not only are they SUPER comfortable but they look pretty smart with my work pants (not to mention my flash socks!) I’ve been in them for 9 hours a day for the last 3 days and the only issue I’ve had is I’ve scuffed them up a bit (this is why I can’t have nice things!) Lots of my patients have commented on them as well. Everyone from nurses to courthouse workers to day care workers.

They have a really nice balance between being supportive where it’s needed and being soft and comfortable where they should be. Plus they have leather uppers so are safe to wear in most workplaces. And the other night it was raining when I came home and it’s the first time in ages that I haven’t done a weird spider-in-roller-skates dance when I hit the slippery tiles in my foyer so the tread is nice and stable."

 

We also asked Kristen to answer a few questions about what makes a "good" all day shoe a "good" all day shoe! 

  • What are the best general design features to look for in a sneaker for all day wear?
    Firm heel cup (it shouldn’t bend flat at the rearfoot), firm and stable last (shouldn’t be able to twist the shoe through the midfoot), bend under the toes in the forefoot, a fixation of some kind (laces, velcro, buckles) and cushioning.

  • What are some features that can often be lacking in sneakers?
    Depth in the heel cup, depth and width in the toe box (especially in women’s joggers), too soft through the midfoot, porous uppers.

  • In your experience, do many women know that a lot of shoes/sneakers are still designed on a male last? How do you think this impacts on women’s choice of work/all day footwear?
    No it’s not widely known. In terms of the impact on their choice, I think it depends on what they’re doing. Most of the women I see who need to wear safety work boots buy boots that are designed for men. And they often have issues with the fit. For these women, I think it can make a huge difference as most of their jobs require them to be on their feet for long periods of time and often on uneven surfaces (mining, construction etc).

  • In your opinion, how important is it that women wear shoes specifically designed on a female last?
    When you’re on your feet for long periods of time, I think it’s very important to be in the right shoe. And a shoe that is well-fitting is a big part of that.

  • What are some of the general myths you’d like to bust about appropriate vs inappropriate footwear?
    There are so many! I guess firstly, comfort doesn’t always mean it’s an appropriate shoe. Some of the comfiest shoes have very little supportive features.  There aren't really ‘bad shoes’. There are inappropriate shoes based on what they are used for and how people are put together and/or how they function.  Good shoes are not cheap. But they’re an investment in your health; especially long term health.  There is no one size fits all when it comes to shoes.

  • What are the common conditions you see from patients not wearing the right footwear? Are you happy to share any examples of how you may have helped alleviate a patient's foot issues by moving to better footwear?
    I’ve seen a lot of issues during COVID due to people wearing inappropriate footwear or no footwear at all while they work from home. Common conditions and how they relate to shoes…

    Plantar heel pain (often referred to as plantar fasciitis). This was once considered an inflammatory issue but is now more commonly associated with degeneration and an imbalance between load and capacity. I’ve seen this one A LOT this year due to people not wearing shoes or wearing ugg boots while they’re working from home.

    Intermetatarsal bursitis or Morton’s neuroma - both of these are issues in the forefoot that are usually caused by overload and compression. Wearing a shoe that is too narrow or shallow in the toe box can either cause this or make it worse. Really flat shoes and also high heel shoes can contribute to the problem as well

    Medial knee osteoarthritis - people just blame old age but shoes can play a big role in either helping or making things worse. Lots of these people love to wear their <brand> because they’re comfy but in a lot of cases they are making things worse.

    Lots of people (especially women!) get quite attached to their shoes and it can be hard to convince them to change. But when I do talk them into change, it can make a MASSIVE impact.

    One patient who I remember in particular was super attached to her <brand> joggers (mainly because they looked nice) even though they were doing absolutely nothing for her feet. She had a cranky big toe joint and heel pain because she had started running. Previously she had been a walker (in the same shoes) and had experienced no real issues so didn’t believe that the shoes were the issue. After trying everything else she finally listened and got herself some <brand> (despite the fact that she was initially horrified by their appearance!) and her foot pain was almost instantly a thing of the past. It wasn’t that the <brand> was a bad shoe, it was just inadequate for what she wanted to do with it.

  • Does the She Supports tick all the boxes from a podiatrist's point of view? It ticks most boxes for everyday comfort.  It’s a little more flexible in the heel cup than a true jogger but it is also not designed as a running shoe so it’s adequate for its purpose. It has a fairly wide and deep toe box which is good for the toes and forefoot. It has laces (a fixation) which is super important. It has some cushioning and the contoured innersole adds to this. It has a removable innersole and good depth and structure to the heel cup which makes it suitable for custom orthotics. The leather upper makes them a good candidate for jobs such as nursing where this is important. Overall, they’re a great shoe and I’ve recommended them to some of my patients already.  In terms of occupations, I can see it being good for health workers, people in hospitality, admin workers, storeroom/warehouse workers, supermarket employees, health workers.

  • Do you think the She Supports will help with particular foot/lower limb health issues?
    They could help with plantar heel pain as they have a good amount of shoe between the foot and the ground + a moderate amount of support and structure.

  • Do you think the She Supports would provide a solid start for the foot health of adolescent girls, for use as school shoes or weekend work etc?
    I actually think they would make a great school shoe. They look very similar to the <brand> shoes that kids all love but they have a lot more features that make them a more suitable shoe. And for the girls who find themselves working their first job on hard floors in supermarkets or fast food places, these would be great. They have leather uppers (which most of those places demand) plus the comfort for all day wear. With the added benefit of looking nice!

Tagged: From our Founder, She Values, Shoe School