Comfortable Kitchen Shoes

November 5, 2019

I have tile floors (on concrete) in the kitchen. If I spend too much time baking, my lower back starts to hurt. I would like to find a pair of shoes that provides a comfortable cushion under my feet for my time in the kitchen. I have removed all rugs from my kitchen except the mat at the entrance to the garage because I find they are a tripping hazard.

Comments (45)

  • dan1888

    Adidas UltraBoost. The Boost BASF white midsole will not wear out or compress over time.

    Winter sale will be the beginning of January.

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    Many professional kitchens use nonslip, cushioned "anti-fatigue" mats intended just for this purpose. You can find similar but more decorative ones for home kitchens if you look online.

    And chefs tend to use clogs or mules in the kitchen - Crocs, Dansko and Birkenstock all make suitable styles intended for this usage.

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  • LoneJack Zn 6a, KC

    I'd recommend Sketchers. They are the most comfortable shoe I've ever worn. Very light weight as well. I have 3 pair now.

  • T B

    If a gel-mat really isn't an option (they are fabulous), I think you need to wear good tennis shoes (I like Hoka One One Clayton 2 with superfeet green insoles, but I have high rigid arches and high instep). You also need to strongly consider your core strength-- that's the most typical reason for lower back pain. If you aren't already taking care of your core with some kind of pilates or similar routine, you may be very happily surprised at the difference you feel after a month or two. Apologies if you are a gym rat who also bakes a lot ;) I'm just sharing what's worked for me personally! Best wishes.

  • LoneJack Zn 6a, KC

    dan1888 - Addidas sure are proud of those Ultraboosts! They do look like comfy shoes though.

  • carolb_w_fl_coastal_9b

    We have terazzo, so I can relate. IMO, anything with a springy, cushy sole is helpful. A shoe that has a thin sole is like being barefoot, and hard floors are not kind to bare feet standing on them for hours.

    You can also buy gel/memory foam insoles to put into your shoes.

  • bpath Oh Sophie

    I always wear slip-on sneakers in the house, and add a cushioned gel insole to them. Saves my back and knees especially on the tile kitchen floor at the holidays. My Clark’s clogs are pretty comfortable, too, for the hard floor.

  • jerzeegirl

    TB, You are right about core strength. I take yoga twice a week and the one area I know needs improvement is core strength (I am a pretzel when it comes to stretching poses, but those core strength poses like Cobra and Superman are incredibly challenging for me!).

    For those of you with gel mats, wouldn't you need a few of them to cover the places where you tend to stand when working in the kitchen. I have three places where I tend to work (kitchen, counter near stove, peninsula).

  • T B

    Before this renovation (which isn't finished yet), I had three 3' gel mats in my kitchen: in front of the cooktop, sink, and primary prep counter. They come in different lengths and colors now, so you might be able to find a good match.

  • T B

    Oh, and the core strength issue hits the vast majority of us, I think-- I really notice it when I have to hand wash a ton of dishes. The best I ever felt was several years ago when I was going to an inexpensive mat pilates class at my gym twice a week; back pain from picking up my kids completely disappeared. I need to get back to it myself!

  • eam44

    GelPro mats are great. I first learned about them on this forum and I bought them for cooking in my sister's kitchen (tile). They definitely reduce fatigue, so I'm grateful for them, but I find that even with one in front of the sink and another in front of the cooktop, they're never really where I need them. If you go this route buy long mats!

  • CA Kate z9

    Are the mats a tripping hazard or are they pretty firm to the ground?

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    There is no way these mats would be used in a commercial kitchen if there was any chance of slippage or tripping! IME, you have to physically pick them up to get any kind movement.

  • eam44

    They are firm to the ground and the material they are made from "clings" sort of - they can be positioned and re-positioned, but they tend to sit still. Also there's a bit of a gradient from floor level to mat level - easily seen on the mat below.

  • jerzeegirl

    I once had an anti-fatigue mat that I bought at Costco and I found that once it got a little sandy underneath, it slipped and slid like all the other kitchen rugs I ever had. And I live in FL where sand is a way of life. And my kitchen tile is really smooth. I was trying to avoid tile with nooks and crannies and so went too far overboard the other way.

    I have actually contemplated ripping up the floor and replacing with wood (like the rest of the house except bathrooms) but that would be a huge hassle since the tiles go under the cabinets and they are stuck down on concrete.

    I checked out the (expensive) Adidas - love the Stella McCartneys - but waiting until January???

    I was ready to order the Crocs last month (in white) but then I remembered how totally uncomfortable my pair of gardening Crocs are and decided that was not a smart move. I will check out Birkenstock and Dansko.

    I have a pair of GogaMat Skechers and in fact they are the BEST shoes for wearing in the kitchen because of the memory foam insoles. However, they are a closed shoe and sweat happens. I really think a clog makes more sense.

    I really like the Hoka One One shoes - they make one called ORA Recovery that would work - I want a slip on so I can keep it near the kitchen and just slip into it when I have to.

    This all has been very helpful. Thanks all.

  • plllog

    I love my GelPro mats. They're easy to clean, heavy, hard to move and cushy. It depends on fatigue level. While the mats (sink, stove and prep) keep the aches and pains away, if I'm really tired and already ache from overdoing (like when dozens are coming and I'm short of help), I find the wiggle too much, too tiring, and would rather stand on the tile. At that point, Tamrac sheepskin slippers with the wool on all surfaces inside and traction rubber bottoms are good.

    The clever bits are what they used to call Plllog's Clllogs. I have some nice wood and leather traditional clogs, but they're too high to walk safely in outside, where there are uneven sidewalks, tree detritus, and similar bits to roll an ankle on--wood is so much less forgiving than the soles on a normal pair of heels. OTOH, my kitchen design issues resolved themselves when I figured out my optimal rolling height was only about 3.5" lower than my baking counter. Rather than dedicating a whole area to rolling dough, and the myriad flour difficulties with the transformers designs, why not just keep the clogs and raise my shoulders rather than lowering the counter? So I have my not very comfortable kitchen shoes too.

    Most days? Just my regular, everyday bare hobbit feet.

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    That's me as well!! Bare feet or if really chilly, my Ugg slip-on slippers. No shoes are worn in the house.

  • Shannon_WI

    We too are a no-shoes house. When I was house-shopping, one of my top-3 requirements was wood floors in kitchen. Had tile floor in a kitchen before, so that’s why the kitchen wood floor was so important to me - only after location and good light in my list of requirements.

    I am very impressed with the suggestions here. I would also suggest, for the sink, that you have a faucet with a long reach. One contributor to back strain at the sink is having to make a long reach with your arms (and unconsciously the shoulders hunch) to the faucet spout, even if just an inch or so longer than it needs to be, when the faucet spout is very close to the back of the sink. This is often seen in high-arch faucets.

  • plllog

    Another factor in hand washing is the depth of the sink bowl. Even with a rack, mine is too low for heavy work. My prep sink is in a higher counter and very shallow, which is great for small veg cleaning. The cleanup sink, however is deep. When my back gets fatigued and I have a lot of must hand wash things, I unroll my draining rack sink cover. That gives me a counter height platform to set that which is being washed upon, and the wide draining spaces control the water (keeps it off the counter) and makes it easy to rinse without having to lift it. SO worth the $25, even though I don't use it daily.

  • dan1888

    LoneJack Zn 6a, KC After Adidas introduced Boost their stock has tripled in value. Lots of sales. I'm on their email list and get my pairs during the seasonal sales. They work and they last. I gave a sale pair to a friend who works on concrete all day(and night sometimes) in his shop. He was showing signs of plantar fasciitis. He's happy now.

  • WalnutCreek Zone 7b/8a

    This is a very good, informative message thread.

    @plllog: I have the same draining rack and it is great. Love that you can roll it up and roll it out.

    @Lone Jack: I had never heard of the Adidas Ultraboost. It is expensive, but with the promotion that is going on right nows, they would make very nice Christmas presents. Have two granddaughters who are runners and they are always trying to find shoes that will be kind to their feet. My daughter has very high arches and they would really be good for her feet. Thanks for mentioning them.

    Concerning the GelPro Mats: They do have some gorgeous mats. Since they are hard to move, would moving them not put a strain on the back when mopping the kitchen floor? Also, much of the time, I have to use a walker, would you think they be easy or difficult for walkers (a rolling one with wheels) to go over? Thanks for any responses to my questions.

  • plllog

    With authentic GelPros, i think you'd be fine with a walker, in crossing the angled edge, especially if you have glides or balls on the feet. Or wheels. Flat feet might want to be lifted a tad, just not to push into the mat. I'd worry more about getting into uneven positions, in the confined area of the mat where one of the walker feet is hanging off and you get a wobbly table effect. I'm not sure how the greater surface are of a wheel would play in that situation.

    They aren't hard to move, on purpose. They're hard to kick. Which is the point. You bump into one with your foot and it grips the floor instead of tripping you. To move them, I bend over and grab and lift an edge. I don't know if a grabber stick would work. The mats are significantly heavy. We drag and scoot them, rather than lifting more than an edge. I only trip on them when someone has stacked all three for floor cleaning and left them there. But I can't say how moving them for cleaning would do for someone with limited strength and mobility.

  • WalnutCreek Zone 7b/8a

    Thank you so much, plllog, for the information. I may try one and see how it works for me.

  • jerzeegirl

    Is there an internal difference between the Gel-Pro mats and Anti-Fatigue mats?

  • foodonastump

    i just bought my son a pair of ultra boost the other day. Didn’t think anything from the name, hadn’t heard of it. We wear a similar size, I’ll have to borrow them tomorrow and try them out.

  • plllog

    Jerzeegirl, "Anti-fatigue" is a generic term, like "silicon mat" is for Silpat. GelPro is a particular mat made by a particular company. Many anti-fatigue mats have foam interiors, rather than gel. I don't know if there are others who make gel mats, or whether the knockoffs are any good. Many also have a hard vinyl or other plastic exterior. I don't know what variations there are for GelPro, but mine are covered with a very durable microfiber cloth. They are noticeably squishier than other kinds of anti-fatigue mats I've stood on. Kind of "active standing" in that one must use micro-corrections as one adjusts one's feet and stance. That's a good thing for preventing injury and some of the effects of bad positioning. As I said, however, when I'm already beyond my limit exhausted, those micro-corrections are enough to send me around the bend and I prefer shearling slippers on the tile. I did that with my old foam mats too. The GelPros are vastly superior. I also lucked out that one of the closeout fabrics when I bought mine was my favorite of all.

  • Feathers11

    I highly recommend Dansko clogs. They were worn by chefs at an English restaurant in which I worked. When I was pregnant, we had a tiled kitchen floor, and I wore them to save my back. I'd wear them walking around urban centers, etc. They're heavenly.

  • pippabean_5


    I slip into them when I get home and don't take them off unless I leave. They are by far the most comfortable indoor shoes around. Cool in summer and with a pair of socks, warm in winter. No bending to get into and out of them. No tying of shoes. Easy on, easy off. What's not to like?

    And best of all: No need for those ugly gel mats!

  • plllog

    My gel mats are pretty! But I agree that Crocs can be pretty comfy. Especially the old ones with the shearling inserts. :)

  • jerzeegirl

    To me, Crocs are the most uncomfortable shoes on the planet. I use them for gardening (because they are easy to hose off when dirty) and my dogs are barking after an hour or so. Maybe I just have a bad style of Croc - they look like open back clogs but have a strap that goes behind the heel. It could also be the substance they are made of that bothers my feet.

  • plllog

    When they changed the design of basic Crocs clogs, I stopped being a fan. The new kind are uncomfortable for me. The upper is too flat.

    The heel straps can be rotated forward, over the front part, like a decorative strap sits on a traditional clog, giving you an open heel style. In the old design, I liked the ones with a low brim around the base of the heel, rather than the strap. I also have Crocs skimmers, which are great for wearing to the pool.

  • noodlesportland

    Ditto clogs. Surgeons and hospital nurses all wear clogs. They distribute your weight evenly. Bare feet is a complete NO from all podiatrist. If I am not in clogs I am in a Clarks flip flop. (all from Zappos or Amazon).

  • jerzeegirl

    I just bought a pair of these in white. They are really comfortable and look like chef shoes. So far they feel really comfortable but I have to spend more time in them to see if they will work. Fitflip Superloafter

  • Em Dash

    we don't do shows in the house, but I have the same problem with an uncomfortable floor. I like LL Bean daybreak scuffs. they have nonslip soles and memory foam.

  • sleevendog (5a NY 6aNYC NL CA)

    Are you sure you have the correct crocs? The basic original. We have at least 6 pairs each. Spares in our cars. A pair each outside the back door. Clean pairs inside to easily switch into. I never use the back strap. Almost always wear with sox. Don't care for the rubbery feel with bare feet. Twice or more a year I pile them all into the washing machine. They are like a gel mat for your feet.

    I have hokas for work and a few other go-to's to trade out. I might have to try the Adidas...the web site has a Black Friday preview. (about 70$ off) but that would be another lace up.

    hoka has a slip-on but open toe. I like the croc with the sold top/side vents. I don't spill much in the kitchen but sometimes a bit of water from the dishwasher or doing a quick mop.

    A neighbor friend has a no-shoe rule indoors. Just sox or barefoot. I find Gell mats pretty ugly but she has a nice one. Narrow and about 6 ft long. (Costco)

  • shivece

    My sister wears the Dansko nurses clogs working on the concrete floors of an industrial dye house and says they are totally amazing.

  • sleevendog (5a NY 6aNYC NL CA)

    I do have a first ever pair of birks. I got the closed clog. Super comfortable without and with sox. (expensive). Will last forever though. I know the dansko clog is used in hospitals and kitchens but I can barely walk in mine. never got used to them so back to crocs.

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    " I know the dansko clog is used in hospitals and kitchens but I can barely walk in mine. "

    I can't walk in mine! The last time I tried, I wound up with with a broken ankle.........I mean really broken....... to the point where there are spikes in one side and a plate with more spikes on the other!! The clog 'lift' is just too tall and makes one's stride unstable (I've broken my foot or ankle in the kitchen twice!).

    Now I am either barefoot or in my shearling lined Birk mules.

  • chedanemi

    I agree with the Crocs! It's absolutely all I wear in the house, and most of the time, out of the house too. I live in the Crocs flip flops. I know people will say there's no support, etc., but for me, they are the most comfortable shoes I own. I can (and have several times) walk for miles in them.

  • jerzeegirl

    Well maybe my foot is funny, but Crocs hurt my toes. I know they are the right size but because of the way they are designed my toes hurt. Whatever they are made of is very unforgiving and my big toe starts to hurt. I do have longish toes so it's partially me.

  • raee_gw zone 5b-6a Ohio

    I actually have seen very few of my co-workers in the hospital wearing clogs, although I keep hearing that we do! Most have a favorite athletic shoe, like Hokas or Asics that they wear. In fact, that is how I learned about Hoka which I now use for running. Perhaps the clogs work well in departments that require less active movement and more standing in a limited area.

    PS way back at the beginning of my career I was reprimanded by my head nurse for wearing (white) running shoes and white sweat socks instead of traditional "nurse" shoes (which had hurt my feet) and white hose with my pantsuit uniform. Running shoes were a fairly new "thing" back then.

    Walnut Creek, I would suggest that you not buy an expensive pair of running shoes for your daughters on line -- although that is a good gift -- they really need to go to a good running specialty store so they can get fitted with a shoe best for their gait, foot shape, and use. There is more to it than the arches and cushioning.

  • Shannon_WI

    I agree with @raee_gw zone 5b-6a Ohio. A good gift would be instead to buy your daughters gift certificates to one of those good athletic-shoe specialty stores, so that they can get fitted there with the shoe best for them. As seen by this thread, shoes/sneakers affect different people differently, and fit different people differently.

  • sleevendog (5a NY 6aNYC NL CA)

    I can empathize with a bad fit. Not all shoe makers/brands suit everyone. I have at least a dozen pairs of hiking and winter boots that each have their quirks. I just need to not wear the same two days in a row and have a change-out pair half way through my work day. (most days). I have orthotics in a pair of keens that I needed to cut off the toe area to make it a 3/4 insert to make toe room.

    Hoka does make a 'recovery' slide and a flip-flop style. I would have a pair in a second but don't care for an open toe style. (if I slip into a croc or my birks at work it isn't noticed towards the end of a work open toe would be a sandal)...not cool at work.

  • Barb

    I agree with the anti-fatigue mate. I have two, one in front of the sink, one in front of the counter where I do most of my work.

    They really work.

    You can get wood-grain mats.

    I also slip on my cooking Crocs if I'm gong to be doing a lot in the kitchen. Red ones. They work well, though I suspect any color will do!

  • jerzeegirl

    I measured, and unfortunately, my kitchen is too small for anti-fatigue mats. I would need three. If I put one near the sink, then I would not be able to put two others in front of the counters where I tend to do the most work. I checked to see if they made 90 degree angle gel mat but I couldn't find any.

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