When it comes to footwear for standing on hours on end, chances are sandals don't come to mind. Between the lack of arch support, open, flexible design, and minimal cushioning, sandals are better left for, say, a quick trip to the beach or a brisk stroll around the block... right?
Not necessarily. Turns out, there are sandals you can wear that are supportive enough for long-lasting comfort. To find them, you just need to be a discerning shopper.
Think about it: Your feet are these small-but-mighty powerhouses that have to hold up your entire body weight. Those cheap rubber flip flops you found at the bottom of your beach bag ain't gonna cut it on long strolls and arduous hikes. "Standing is very hard on the feet and body," says Emily Splichal, DPM, a functional podiatrist and CEO of orthotic and footwear company, Naboso. "We were designed to move, so I consider prolonged standing just as stressful to the body as prolonged sitting. Movement is what keeps our feet, muscles, and tissue hydrated and continuously shifting stress."
- Emily Splichal, DPM, board-certified podiatrist and human movement specialist, and global leader in barefoot science and rehabilitation at the Center for Functional and Regenerative Podiatric Medicine
This doesn't mean you need to strap yourself into an unbreathable pair of boots or heavy, clunky sneakers. But it also doesn't mean you should expect your flat-as-a-board pool slides to do the trick, either. "Someone who is on their feet a lot will need the same arch support as someone with flat feet," Dr. Splichal explains. "Sandals with arch support can be used to allow the foot muscles to take a break and relax while in the arch support sandals."
Buckles, straps, and toe-loops should be considered, too. The more adjustable, the better, especially if you can't fit into standard medium shoe sizes. "Look for adjustable tops and straps that are designed to accommodate bunions and wide forefeet," says Dr. Splichal.
And of course, don't be afraid to accessorize. Depending on the sandal, Dr. Splichal recommends using insoles, like the Naboso Activation Sensory Insole ($55), or sensory socks to reduce foot fatigue and joint paint. Combined, these can make a significant improvement on your posture, balance, and overall feel.
So, yes, you can wear sandals for long periods of time—just do it one of the picks below.
Stand for hours in these supportive sandals
Next time you venture out on the long, summer hike over hill-and-dale, do it with Chacos. They’ve got Dr. Splichal’s seal of approval, thanks to their arch-loving midsole that gives you support over long periods of time. They also feature adjustable straps, making it easy to customize to wide or narrow feet, and a toe-loop for added control.
Sizes: 5-12, medium and wide
Colors: 11 different colors and prints
Surprise, surprise—Birkenstock is also on Dr. Splichal’s list of stand-worthy sandals. That’s because of that legendary cork footbed which literally molds to the foot, giving you custom support step after step. Like the Chacos, these sandals are also adjustable, so if you need some extra room for bunions or hammer toes, they’ve got you covered.
Sizes: 4-11, medium and wide
Colors: taupe, green, fuchsia, orange, light grey, dark grey, beige
Aetrex shoes are renowned for their uncompromising comfort and podiatrist-approved support. The Mimi sandals are designed to alleviate pressure in the forefront, using a high arch to stabilize and balance your joints while you walk. Layer on the cloud-like midsole that absorbs shock and the buckle ankle strap, and you’ll never want to take ’em off.
Sizes: 5-11, medium
Colors: black, bronze, navy, red, and tan leather
FitFlop may not market their footwear as orthopedic, but their styles are all biomechanically engineered for comfort and support (not to mention every style they’ve launched has earned an American Podiatric Medical Association Seal of Acceptance). They may not officially get this label because they really don’t look like ortho shoes. These stylish leather sandals give you an ultra supportive footbed (thanks to the Dynamicush™ cushioning) and feature an adjustable back strap. Bonus: a slip-resistant outsole to keep you from slipping and sliding on slick surfaces.
Colors: light tan, black, platino, warm rose
Need a lot of extra room on your feet? Check out Orthofeet. Not only are their shoes ridiculously supportive, but they come in wide and extra wide sizes that make them even comfier to wear for hours on end. These happen to be lined with orthotic insoles for premium shock absorption, antimicrobial protection, and heel support. They’re also made from a vegan leather.
Sizes: 5-12, medium, wide, and extra-wide
Colors: black, bronze, bone, and pewter
Brunch with buddies, a stroll through the park, a 20 block walk up to your grocery store—these sandals can handle it all. They’re soled in a rugged rubber outsole that’s great for traction, while the EVA footbed is sweet on feet. The best part by far is the upper, though, which is made from a recycled plastic stretch fabric for unparalleled support no matter what size or shape your feet are.
Sizes: 5-11, medium
Colors: 7 different colors and patterns
Ask any podiatrist or chiropractor for a footwear recommendation and Vionic is sure to be on their list. That’s all thanks to their orthotic comfort crafted in each and every pair of shoes. These funky sandals don’t skimp on the cushion and are so trendy, you won’t even realize you’re wearing orthotics. Layer on the velcro heel strap you can tighten or widen to your liking, and you’ll want to wear them all summer long.
Sizes: 5-11, medium
Colors: black, green, and white
W+G editors simply won’t shut up about Oofos recovery sandals (Oprah and Jennifer Lawrence feel the same way) because they’re practically trampolines for your feet. The shock absorption is unlike anything you’ll ever feel on almost every surface, literally giving you pep in your step mile after mile. These platforms are new for 2022 and double down on the brand’s iconic footbed, designed with a whopping 15 mm of cushy comfort. Slip ’em on and see what the fuss is about.
Sizes: 5-10, medium
Colors: black and white
Replace your worn out hiking boots with something more comfortable and water-friendly. These strappy sandals from Dr. Scholl’s tick all the boxes you want in a durable sandal you can wear on long treks. Each pair features supportive insoles that adapt to your feet, adjustable straps, and a lightweight body that won’t weight you down.
Sizes: 6-11, medium
Colors: coral, light blue, taupe, and navy
Summer wedding season is upon us, and if you plan on spending hours mingling at cocktail or breaking it down on the dance floor, Naot can help. The brand is approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association because of its signature cork/latex footbed that molds to your feet. Its got tons of styles to shop, like these elegant sandals that feel as good as they look.
Sizes: 4-13, medium
Colors: 20+ different color combos
Wearing slides all day can be strenuous on your feet. That’s why we love APL’s dreamy recovery slides, which treat feet to luxury no matter how long you wear them. They’re so good, they were dubbed one of Oprah’s Favorite Things for 2021. If they’re good enough for Oprah’s feet, you know you won’t be disappointed.
Sizes: 5-11, medium
Colors: 30+ different colors and combos
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