Good barista/server shoes?

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Good barista/server shoes?

Postby Piero Cristiani on Thu Jun 25, 2009 1:36 pm

I just started working as a barista; I've never worked in the food industry so I've never had to stand up for hours straight. I'm looking to get a good pair of shoes to minimize strain. Any suggestions?

I've heard that there are certain brands that sell shoes specially for servers...

thx
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Re: Good barista/server shoes?

Postby Jim Saborio on Thu Jun 25, 2009 6:27 pm

It will hurt for a few weeks. Maybe a couple months. Then your body gets broken-in and it doesn't hurt so much. I'm not sure that shoes will help you through that process.
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Re: Good barista/server shoes?

Postby Jeff Givens on Thu Jun 25, 2009 7:20 pm

Good support is essential, especially for us older folks. That means that Crocs are out, in spite of how comfortable they feel. This site has a nice assortment of chef shoes.
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Re: Good barista/server shoes?

Postby Deferio on Fri Jun 26, 2009 4:48 am

Dansko
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Re: Good barista/server shoes?

Postby Chris Kornman on Fri Jun 26, 2009 12:00 pm

Back in high school x-country running, my coach recommended I buy a second pair of running shoes and switch every other day to prevent shin splints. I have used this method ever since and it has significantly reduced strain on my back and feet. A good pair of insoles will save your ass, too.
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Re: Good barista/server shoes?

Postby phaelon56 on Mon Jun 29, 2009 5:16 am

I agree on the Dansko suggestion. I developed a bone spur in one heel about two years ago and needed an option with more heel cushioning and room for an orthotic insole. I switched to some Merrell's and absolutely love them.
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Re: Good barista/server shoes?

Postby scottlucey on Mon Jun 29, 2009 8:44 am

Vans
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Re: Good barista/server shoes?

Postby Matt Milletto on Mon Jun 29, 2009 2:21 pm

scottlucey wrote:Vans


ditto
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Re: Good barista/server shoes?

Postby David Kastle on Mon Jun 29, 2009 2:41 pm

Doc Marten's. Durable, comfortable, and good for dealing with unruly customers....
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Re: Good barista/server shoes?

Postby xristrettox on Mon Jun 29, 2009 8:11 pm

chucks
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Re: Good barista/server shoes?

Postby xristrettox on Mon Jun 29, 2009 8:13 pm

my barista, peter, wears sperry top-siders everyday. says they're perfect.
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Re: Good barista/server shoes?

Postby Ryan Willbur on Mon Jun 29, 2009 8:31 pm

xristrettox wrote:my barista, peter, wears sperry top-siders everyday. says they're perfect.

Oh god, did that for a few weeks and I had the worst experience. However, they keep clean!
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Re: Good barista/server shoes?

Postby phaelon56 on Tue Jun 30, 2009 5:10 am

Body weight (relative to height) and age are huge factors. The shoes or sneakers that seem to work well for you in your 20's may turn out to be not so great when you're hitting your late 30's or 40's. There is a cumulative stress factor from years spent on hard surface floors for extended periods where you're not moving constantly. Vans or Chucks may seem to be just the ticket at one point in time but that choice may appear years later, in retrospect, to have been unwise (been there done that and got the bone spur to prove it).
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Re: Good barista/server shoes?

Postby Klaus on Sat Jul 04, 2009 11:30 am

I'm shocked. :shock: I thought we all agreed years ago that Vans was the official barista shoe! :P

I like my Vans but my old Nike Airs have done good for my back, since the sole is so much softer. I cannot wear my Dunk Lows anymore - They started giving me back troubles. I'll only consider Dansko, because they are partly Danish and the guy in their introductory video still has the thickest Danish accent.

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Re: Good barista/server shoes?

Postby JakeLiefer on Tue Oct 13, 2009 4:23 pm

I've been fighting miserable back pain for the past couple of months so I can offer up a few things I've learned in that time. My situation isn't due to one single issue, but rather several small issues that combined to make it bad. First off, I have a bad genetic package for standing for long hours. I have an extra vertebrae (which isn't too uncommon), meaning my spine is tweaked a bit more than usual. Also, I have next to no arches in my feet. So unfortunately, my situation is exacerbated due to some bigger issues. However, I feel that this just brought about the symptoms faster, as just standing with bad shoes will lead up to problems as Phaelon mentioned.

The second issue that caused me problems is what you mention, shoes. For the past several years, I've worn either low soled Pumas or Adidas Sambas. While looking cool, there isn't any support or cushion. To try to fix my back, I looked into getting special server shoes. Talking to the chiropractor, the key for standing is proper foot support and cushion. The server shoes have good cushion, but a pair of running shoes can also provide the necessary cushion. So don't feel you have to get server shoes. To get proper foot support, you need to have some good insoles. Fortunately, my insurance covered a custom fitted pair of orthotics by Foot Levelers. If you have insurance, find out if you can get a pair. If not, they'll run you about $300. I can't vouch for the over-the-counter insoles, as I haven't had much success with them. But perhaps if your situation isn't as bad, they'll do a good job.

Finally, make sure your environment is set up properly. While there is always something to do behind the bar during a shift, perhaps you can have a stool behind the bar to sit when you're talking with co-workers or writing something down. Just getting off your feet for a couple minutes will be helpful for you in the long run. Secondly, there needs to be rubber padded mats behind your bar, something that looks like these. Not only do they provide more cushion for your back, feet and knees, but they'll keep you safe from slipping and save a few dropped glasses and demitasses. And last, stretch before and after work. It always sounds lame to talk about stretching before work, as I always conjure up the Sit & Be Fit people:
Image
However, stretching and all these other things are necessary to make sure we can be baristas for years to come. I hope that we can all be proactive in ensuring our bodies stay healthy to make sure we don't have to leave the industry earlier than we'd like to.
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Re: Good barista/server shoes?

Postby Rich Westerfield on Fri Oct 16, 2009 5:00 am

Looks like we've diverted to two separate issues: feet pain/fatigue and back problems.

I'll go head-to-head with anyone on reciting a litany of back problems :lol:

Being beer-gutted middle-ager, a regimen of stretching exercises each morning should keep one relatively pain-free, without need for chiropracty (for me, chiro was a bust and almost crippling - PT was the way to go). I'm the opposite of Jake's extra verterbrae - I basically have one less disk in my lower back, having lost 80% of one and 20% of another due to ruptures.

Speaking only for myself, I see the problem more of one of standing in a confined space for prolonged periods. My work week has three distinct parts - standing behind bar for six hour shifts standing at a food prep table for 2-4 hours at a time and working 8-hour shifts in a roastery/warehouse. By far, the kitchen prep is the worst because that's where there's the least amount of movement - it's almost pure standing in one spot. Bar is second - limited movement, but at least some movement. Working in the roastery, despite moving bending and lifting hundreds of pounds of coffee is actually the least harmful to my back (although overall most exhausting) as there is constant leg movement.

I've gone through two sets of clogs (Clarks and Crocs), a couple pair of sneakers (Nike Air and Reebok DMX), Topsiders and Eccos. My results seem counterintuitive. The Eccos were the worst (seem to be made for walking rather than standing), followed by the Clarks and Crocs (which, while comfortable on feet, seem to induce even more leg fatigue). The Reeboks were/are far more comfortable than the Nikes and are what I wear at the roastery. The Topsiders actually win for bar work (no idea why, but I have less pain). YMMV.
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Re: Good barista/server shoes?

Postby jason dominy on Tue Oct 20, 2009 9:45 am

For many years, I shoes that had the most cushioning in them, thinking, I'm a stout guy, and being on my feet all day, I could use the cushioning. But last year I got a pair of Onitsuka Tigers. I thought I could wear them casually, but since I bought them, I've not worn another shoe. Absolutely the most comfortable shoe I've worn, and they wash easily in the machine. I know lots of baristas that swear by them.
Image

This same topic has been posted and discussed over at Barista Exchange:
http://www.baristaexchange.com/forum/topics/what-shoes-do-you-wear-while?x=1&id=1688216%3ATopic%3A468555&page=1#comments
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Re: Good barista/server shoes?

Postby HuntSlade on Wed Oct 21, 2009 5:39 am

I really only can vouch for what I wear - Crocs. The ones with the closed toe and back of them come higher up around the heal. They also have kitchen-safe oil and slip resistant tread on the bottom. I had a heel spur a couple of years ago and went through several pair of shoes in a month trying to find something bearable. When I tried the Crocs, they were more than bearable - they were damn comfortable (and with ample support in my opinion). Believe it or not, after a few weeks, the heel spur actually went away and I can wear other shoes withour pain as well, but for everyday wear, spending hours on my feet in the roastery or behind bar, its Crocs for me. The model I wear (Bistro) is also approved as commercial kitchen wear.
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