I am most definitely not gelling.
August 2, 2012 12:07 AM   Subscribe

I work eight hour days where I'm doing a lot of walking and heavy lifting. I need some comfortable but affordable ($70) shoes that provide good support. Any suggestions? More inside.

My feet have become pretty fucked up from not wearing shoes meant for the kind of work I'm doing. Both of my big toes are swollen and hurt and are callused to hell (I do plan on seeing a doctor), so I'm thinking it's time I try to find some shoes that won't further exacerbate the problem. I don't expect any kind of shoe to reverse the problem, but I am looking for a pair of shoes that won't make my issues worse. I do a lot of walking at work (in addition to also walking to and from work), as well as heavy lifting and pulling. I've been wearing Nikes and Onitsuka Tigers, but they're already falling apart, and weren't really the best shoes to be wearing, anyway, but they're indicative of the style of shoes I prefer. Very little of my time is spent sitting down, unfortunately, so the majority of my work day is spent on my feet.

I don't need anything steel-toed, and would prefer a pair of shoes that aren't flashy. A lot of shoes I see that are meant to provide good support look like something the Silver Surfer shat out. I like "plain" shoes, something that won't startle me when I look down. Aesthetics are ultimately secondary to the overall health of my feet, I'm just hoping somebody will have something to suggest that look very "basic".

The caveat is I can't really afford to spend more than about $70. It'd be great if they last a bit longer than my Nikes/Onitsuka Tigers, but I'm not expecting anything indestructible within that price range. Unfortunately, I just don't make enough to be able to spend a lot, and I need to be able to buy these shoes soon.

I'm a male, and my shoe size differs depending on the brand. I'm a 13 in Nikes, but a 12 in Onitsuka Tigers. I don't have a clue what I am in Adidas, but I'm pretty sure it's probably around a 12.
posted by Redfield to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe something like this?
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:44 AM on August 2, 2012

I'm going to suggest that you up your shoe budget if at all possible. Eight hours on your feet with heavy lifting says to me that you want a really well constructed shoe - great support and comfort - and in my experience there's a significant improvement when you go from $70 (list) to around $130 (list) in materials and build quality.

I have a pair of Onitsuka Tigers and, while I love them, I agree with you they're sub-par for hours and hours of walking. I'd try to hit up a Nordstrom and see if they have anything on sale that strikes your fancy. Or an REI, if boots are acceptable, to see if they have any sale items. They also sometimes have customer returns at excellent prices.
posted by zippy at 12:58 AM on August 2, 2012

You can get running shoes on sale for like $40 and that's already a couple notches above the flat-soled shoes you've posted as an example. I wear cheap Saucony's when I work on my feet.

You usually find deals at sporting good stores. Alternatively, REI is nice as zippy said because you can return anything after any period if you just say the words "I'm not satisfied with this." So then you can be sure the shoe you're getting A) fits YOUR foot, and B) doesn't break down in an unreasonable amount of time.
posted by victory_laser at 1:05 AM on August 2, 2012

These are the ones recommended by my husband's foot doctor. he has owned several pairs of them, the newest bought in July. The price listed on the site right now is a good 50 dollars more than we paid for them, from Amazon, so they can be found much cheaper.
posted by SuzySmith at 2:49 AM on August 2, 2012

After dealing with some foot problems that seemed to be the result of a combination of a lot of walking and poor shoes, my podiatrist recommended New Balance shoes as well. I'm wearing a pair of MR860NS . These shoes made a world of difference.
posted by HuronBob at 3:01 AM on August 2, 2012

I do the same work and would advise not skimping on work boots. I have Redwings that have upgraded insoles. Sure, you're looking at almost $200 but mine usually last two years or longer. At the minimum I hope you're upgrading insoles every six months or so. Walking on concrete is hard on the body I think.
posted by princelyfox at 3:26 AM on August 2, 2012

I agree with those suggesting REI or another outdoors store--you just need more support than flat sneakers are going to provide and 'hiking shoe' styles are more likely to give you that. I adore Keen's, so here are a couple on sale styles at Zappos that might meet your needs (but still also your fashion sense):
Briggs II (I had the original women's style Briggs and they lasted more than 2 years with near daily wear)
posted by hydropsyche at 3:49 AM on August 2, 2012

I work on my feet as well (as a server). The solution I have found is to get cheap shoes, expensive insoles. Shoes that you work in are bound to fall apart noatter the quality,whereas insoles can last almost forever! The shoes just have to be roomy and supple enough not to cause blisters. I usually spend 10-20 dollars on shoes, then 40-50 on a good pair of insoles. Bonus: the insoles can be stuck in different shoes, so if one pair isn't working for you, you try another!

Insoles that I like include Birkenstock's 'Das Blue Footbed' and Orthaheel's 'Slimfit'. These fit in boots/sneakers and dressy shoes, respectively, but both those companies make some other fantastic insoles so you could browse their products.
posted by whalebreath at 5:02 AM on August 2, 2012

If you really have to stick to a tight budget, you may want to check out Shoes for Crews and pay close attention to the customer reviews. These guys specialize in footwear for people who spend all day on their feet, but some of their cheaper shoes are crap.
posted by thatdawnperson at 5:14 AM on August 2, 2012

I work much longer days that involve lots of walking and heavy lifting. I'm going to suggest Keens if your feet are wider, Merrels if your feet are narrower. This is what pretty much everyone I work with wears. I tend to go for something hiking/trail running related.
posted by mollymayhem at 7:37 AM on August 2, 2012

After years working retail and spending 8+ hours on my feet every day, I landed on Redwings as the best, most durable (you should get at least 2 years out of them), most comfortable work shoe I could find. In fact I still wear them now that I have an office job. Yes, they're a bit more expensive than $80, but there's no need to go all the way up to $200. I usually spend between $120-150. If they last more than two years, and you were planning on spending $80 every year, you'll come out ahead financially.

Oh, and pay attention to your width size as well as length. That can make a big difference.
posted by postel's law at 7:50 AM on August 2, 2012

I see that you have linked to a pair of running shoes, but you say that you are doing a lot of walking. You may have just picked that link at random, but just in case, I wanted to emphasize: do not get running shoes for walking.

I know it sounds like silly marketing BS, but there really is a HUGE difference between running shoes and walking shoes. Running shoes are designed to cushion your heel from a running strike, which means that the padding is much thicker. This pushes you forward onto your toes if you wear them exclusively for walking.

Walking shoes, on the other hand, are designed for a natural stride while walking.

I learned this lesson the hard way. After a month where each walking session was more painful than the last, I switched from running shoes to walking shoes. Bingo!

I personally prefer New Balance walking shoes. They seem to last me pretty well, they are affordable, they come in a good range of sizes, and I personally like the style.

This model looks like it might be up your alley, style-wise?
posted by ErikaB at 5:16 PM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

My job also involves a lot of walking, heavy lifting, and pulling, so this kind of thing gets discussed a lot in real life & around the internet water cooler.

I agree with other posters that suggest you look into hiking/work boots - the ankle support of a 6" or higher boot can really help. I also agree that you probably ought to up your budget.

I've got a pair of Merrell Moab that I like for a low shoe.

Lots of people in my industry swear by various New Balance shoes. I believe they make a few "Postal Worker/Service Industry" models, as do some other companies.

I've had good results with various Timberland products.

Doc Martens & RedWings get a lot of love, but they've never really worked out great for me, YMMV.

On the high end, Ecco shoes & boots are great.

All of my shoes get some kind of aftermarket insole. I haven't really ever settled on one as "best", but they can help a lot. If you're already heading to the doctor, lots of people in my business with really screwed-up feet swear that custom orthotic insoles make a HUGE difference.
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