In a hurry? If so, I’d recommend the Hoka One One Bondi 6 Running Shoe as the best shoes for walking on concrete.
Walking on concrete is killer. There’s no flexibility to it. I’ve known many a coworker relying on painkillers to get through the day. But that’s a temporary fix. To solve the problem you need better footwear – shoes designed to melt away the impact of hard surfaces.
In this article I’ve reviewed the following shoes to help get through those 8-10 hour days:
- Brooks Men’s Addiction Walker Walking Shoes
- New Balance Men’s 608v5 Casual Comfort Cross Trainer Shoe
- Skechers for Work Men’s Flex Advantage Slip Resistant Mcallen Slip On
- KEEN Men’s Austin Shoe
- Hoka One One Men’s Bondi 6 Running Shoe
Why You Need Better Shoes for Concrete
Walking on asphalt or on a trail road is different. There’s a natural give and these surfaces absorb some of the impact when you’re walking.
With concrete, it’s almost the polar opposite. There’s little to no give at all. This forces your body to absorb the full blow of the impact.
If it’s only a few hours, you might not notice a big difference. But for those working 8-10 hours Monday through Friday, your joints & muscles will ache more.
Smooth hard surfaces aren’t technically the problem. It’s those small pieces of debris (rock, glass, etc) that accumulate on top that’s the real issue. Since it can’t be pushed into the ground, it sits atop and continues to build up.
Have you ever wiped out and ended up with road rash? Nasty stuff. And that’s only with one swipe across. For a light warehouse work day of 5 miles, you’re looking at about 10,000 steps. That’s ten thousand times the outsole (trends / bottom of shoe) makes contact with the surface.
This is an absolute killer for delicate foam based treads and leather outsoles. Even that thin pieces of rubber found on many running shoes won’t cut it. Want you want is thicker outsole to withstand this daily sanding.
Ever seen oil or water on polished concrete floors? It’s no wonder that slips, trips, and falls account for the majority of general industry accidents.
For better footing, the thick outsoles should have deeper and better patterned treads.
Common Pains Associated with Walking on Concrete
Walking on concrete for prolonged periods tends to overwork problem areas. What area of pain you experience will depend on your gait, arch shape, and footwear habits. Common symptoms include:
- Plantar fasciitis
- Achilles tendinitis
- Shin splints
- Knee pain
- Back pain, etc
Experiencing some soreness & foot fatigue is normal. See a doctor or podiatrist (foot doctor) for severe pains or unusually tuckered out legs.
Should I Wear Boots or Shoes for Walking on Concrete All Day?
Whether to wear boots or tennis shoes will depend on your specific work & health needs. All else being equal, I’d recommend wearing as little weight as possible. Every extra ounce you add works your legs that much harder.
Boots have the advantage of full length ankle support and/or a warmth option. They also are the standard if you need durable leather protection or safety toes.
The advantage of shoes are that they are lighter and tend to breathe better. You won’t find many boots with a mesh upper!
Slight Differences if You’re Standing on Concrete All Day
The basic principle is the same for walking and standing on concrete all day. You want to reduce the load as much as possible. Good shock absorption and the right amount of arch support are key.
When walking on concrete, you have the full benefit of the shock absorption from the midsole. If you’re stuck standing in one place, the rebounding action of the midsole is much more limited. Your arch support will have to taper off the bulk of the load instead. For flat footed people the lack of a natural arch will compound the burden on your legs.
I’d also recommend trying to incorporate as much stretching and exercising as you can get away with. Even if it means shifting your weight side-to-side. Believe it or not, your heart will thank you. Here are a few examples of exercises you can do to help with standing at work.
What to Consider When Buying Shoes for Walking On Concrete
Our bodies were never designed to walk on a completely level and rigid surface like concrete. It’s even more unnatural to find ourselves standing in one spot for hours upon end. To compensate, it’s important to reduce the load on our legs as much as possible.
Outsole (Bottom of shoe)
Concrete is abrasive. Try to avoid footwear with foam based or leather based bottoms. Instead, look for outsoles built with a thick quality layer of rubber. This will prevent the concrete from damaging the delicate shock absorbing midsole.
For polished concrete floors your bigger concern is traction. You’ll want better designed treads that grip well why you walk with them. This will help avoid sliding around and ending up with an injury.
Midsole (between your foot and outsole)
The midsole is usually made out of a cushy EVA foam that compresses and rebounds upon impact. It’s responsible for the majority of the shock absorption that takes place.
Cheap shoes have cheap midsoles. When you buy a premium shoe, this is the part you’re paying extra for. A better midsole will not only rebound better, but tends to last longer too.
No midsole lasts forever. On hard surfaces it’ll have to work even harder. Expect a shorter shoe lifespan if only worn on concrete.
On most surfaces the natural arch in your foot works well to dissipate the bulk of the load. But on concrete, your arch tend to overwork itself. Continued overuse leads to a variety of problems. Most common is a heel pain known as plantar fasciitis.
Arch support acts as a crutch. It’ll help to take a considerable amount of the strain off your foot.
For flat-footed people it’s a bit more trickier. If you experience no pain, that’s a sign your legs adjusted fine and you don’t need arch support. But, incorporating a low arch can help reduce the load. Keep in mind that it will take time for your legs to adjust.
Always visit a podiatrist if pains feel severe or if you need more guidance.
The bulk of arch support comes from the insole. Unfortunately, the stock insoles in your walking shoes are often cheap and flimsy.
Aftermarket ones are a better choice. Make sure you’re matching your foot to the proper arch height. Wearing the wrong height will either hurt or won’t add the support you’re looking for.
For low arched or flat footed individuals you can go with or without arch support. Opt for a low arch if you do. For all others, look for aftermarket insoles with thicker cushioning.
Poorly ventilated shoes will keep your feet hot and sweaty. Quite the opposite of what you want.
Repeated enough and it’ll lead to a host of irritating problems. It’ll induce blisters and skin irritations. Your shoes will start to stink. And the lifespan of your shoes will shorten.
Properly ventilating shoes ideally have a mesh design or perforations to breathe better. Be sure you’re also wearing proper socks. A good pair of socks will wick away moisture, is breathable, and is well padded.
Ask your workplace if you need any kind of safety footwear first. From there you can determine if you need safety boots or if can get away with lightweight sneakers.
All else being equal, I’d recommend going for the lighter option. The less weight you have, the easier it’ll be on your legs.
Safety Toe & Needs
The standard issue for this type of work environment is a safety-toed boot encased in a durable leather. From there you can niche down to your specific needs:
For those working in this category, you have a bigger variety of options. Luckily, the footwear in this category will be lighter and generally more comfortable. The emphasis away from safety allows manufacturers to use more flexible materials. This improves range of motion when walking which further eases the burden on your legs.
Better Shoe Tips & Footwear Habits
A good pair of shoes aren’t cheap. But it’s better than the alternative – damaged legs. Here are a few tips for healthier legs and longer lasting footwear:
Wearing a different pair every other day helps to extend the life of both sets. Moisture is the enemy of footwear. Giving your shoes a full day to completely dry out helps the materials last longer.
You’ll also have the added benefit of a higher resilience to injuries. No two shoes work your legs the same. A slightly altered gait works different muscles building a stronger leg.
Regular Replacement of your Insoles & Shoes
Hard surface like concrete force your shoes to work doubly hard. The insoles get beat up quicker. And so does the rest of the shock absorbing defense.
Plan to regularly swap out your insoles. A dead insoles forces the rest of your shoe & body to work harder. This leads to higher risk of injury & shortened shoe lifespans.
Your shoes will need regular replacement too. You’ll be able to feel when the midsole is dead. Your shoes will feel flat and the hardness of the ground will come through.
Stretching & Warm Up Exercises
For those of us embarking on 8-10 hours shifts, treat yourself as an athlete. Warm up your muscles and get them loose. Here are some simple stretches you can do to help prepare.
Best Shoes for Walking on Concrete All Day Review:
Any one of these shoes are a good choice for those spending long stretches of time walking or standing on concrete floors. Which one you choose will come down to budget, look, and brand preference.
For best practices I’d strongly urge you to do two things. The first is upgrade to a better quality aftermarket insoles. You’ll have more control over the rigidity and arch height that you need.
I’d also recommend buying a second pair of shoes. Wearing a different pair every other day will increase the lifespan of both shoes. It’ll also help to prevent injury by strengthening different muscles in your legs.
This list does not does not cover footwear with safety toe needs. For those needing safety toed footwear, leather boots are standard. Keep in mind that a low, neutral, or high arch will impact how comfortable a pair of boots will feel.
Layers of Shock Absorption
The Addiction Walker series come loaded with shock absorbing features to combat concrete. A thick and well designed midsole. Plenty of internal inside cushioning. And a surprisingly well built stock insoles. No issues on comfort and the treads work fine too.
Low to Medium Arches
For arch types, this shoe works well for flat to medium arches. Like most Brooks shoes the regular width runs narrow. But the available wide and extra wide options are plenty roomy for any width.
There are few things to be wary about. The shoes run a bit heavy. The toebox feels narrow on the regular width. And the leather construction makes them less breathable than mesh types.
- Lots of shock absorption – feels very comfortable
- Works well for low to medium arches
- Stock insoles built surprisingly well
- Comfortable right out of the box
- Narrow toe box on regular size
- No real arch support – will need aftermarket insole if have high arches
- Regular size runs narrow, but has wide and extra wide option
- On the heavier side
- Leather makes it hotter than mesh types
Good Budget Pick
A comfortable sneaker for those on a budget. The midsole is decent and works well. There’s also plenty of cushioning and they feel comfortable straight out of the box. If you’ve worn New Balance before the comfort & feel will be inline with their other models.
No Arches and Narrow Toes
No real arch support to speak of in the 608 series. Great for flat feet but if you have high arches, you’ll need to upgrade the insoles. The toebox runs narrow even on the wide option. Avoid these if you have splayed toes. Finally, the breathability is average. Not amazing but terrible either.
- For the price hard to beat – great budget shoe for concrete
- Well cushioned – feels comfortable out of the box
- New Balance quality – designed well
- Narrow toe box
- No real arch – high arches will need aftermarket insole
- Breathability is average – feels warm after extended use
Slips-Ons that are Light & Breathable
These slip on Sketcher shoes feel comfortable right out of the box. They are built light. The entire mesh upper makes them breathable too. The memory foam is a nice thought, but feels a bit thin to me.
No Reinforced Heel
A couple of issues to note. The heel part is not reinforced and will likely collapse. This wouldn’t be a big deal for a lace-up type shoe. But these are slips. Most people shove your foot in.
Annoying Tread Design
I’m also not a fan of how the tread design. They come with narrow grooves that are perfect for small stones & debris to get lodged in. Left unattended and you’ll notice a crunchy and uneven walk.
- Lightweight and very comfortable
- Mesh upper – breathes well
- Comes with memory foam
- Slip on
- Heel part is not reinforced and likely to collapse
- Microgrooves in treads lodge debris in tightly
Well Built with Casual Look
The Austin’s may look more casual but still feel every bit like a Keen shoe. As expected they come with excellent treads that grip well. The toe box is nice and roomy. And the arch support is rigid. These do have a break in period but once you’re over that hump, they feel wonderfully comfortable.
On the spectrum of running shoes and hiking shoes, these fall in the later category. The use of an upper made from nubuck & leather makes them durable. Unfortunately, it also makes them heavier and less breathable than a mesh based upper.
- More casual looking but built tougher
- Treads works well – strong grip
- Rigid arch support
- Comfortable – once broken in
- No mesh upper makes them feel heavier & less breathable
- Long break in period
Extra Thick Midsole
This is about as much cushioning as you can possibly find in a shoe. The EVA midsole comes with an extra thick layer that absorbs enormous loads of shock. Even for heavier set people, you’ll find that these are comfortable out of the box. The toe box feels wide and roomy. No issues on the treads, they grip well.
The upper is of a reinforced mesh design. Mesh is wonderful for ventilation but typically damages easily. Hoka seems to be the exception. The mesh is woven in a durable fashion without compromising the ventilation.
I’m a bit disappointed by the stock insole it comes with. It’s surprisingly mediocre. There’s no arch support, meaning it’ll work well for flat footed people. If you have neutral or high arches you’ll need to upgrade to a rigid aftermarket insole.
- Extra thick midsole – feels comfortable for even heavier set people
- Well constructed mesh – durable but still breathes well
- Wide toe box
- Stock insole surprisingly mediocre – will need aftermarket insoles for support
- Visually not for everyone – bulky
The key to conquering concrete is about reducing as much shock as possible. You want a thick midsole, padding on the inside, and a good insole that supports your arch type. Also, make sure that it grips well and comes with plenty of ventilation.
Like I said before, all the above options are great. But, if I had to choose one I’d go with Hoka One One Bondi 6 Running Shoe as the best shoes for walking on concrete.
The Hoka’s come with a ridiculously thick EVA midsole to absorb shock. The insides are padded nicely and the outsoles come with good grip. The mesh uppers work well to vent the shoe, and are surprisingly durable. Be sure to upgrade to a better aftermarket insole. The stock one is mediocre at best with no arch support to speak of.