8 Best Running Shoes for Bad Knees
Proper training and accessories like knee braces can help of course, but investing in a cushioned and shock-absorbing pair of running shoes will both prevent and help diminish knee pain.
In this guide, we have compiled a comprehensive list of the best running shoes for bad knees. Take your time to review all the factors to consider when shopping for your next pair of knee saving running shoes.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 4 hrs of research
Grippy rubber outsole
Lightweight and breathable upper
Full-length EVA midsole
Top 8 Running Shoes for Bad Knees
1. Hoka One One Clifton 7
Grippy rubber outsole
Lightweight and breathable upper
Full-length EVA midsole
Knees need a lot of shock absorption to stay protected, and no one absorbs shock better than Hoka One One! We selected the Clifton 7 for our list because it is incredibly versatile and utilizes a super soft squishy midsole to turn hard and unforgiving sidewalks into fluffy clouds. While it is great for long distances, the snappy and flexible upper makes it perfect for speed as well.Read more
What makes Hoka stand out from the pack is the construction of its midsole. This super thick platform midsole is composed of a layer of Durable full-length EVA foam for a comfortable ride and easy transitions. It also boasts a grippy rubber outsole that transitions easily from treadmills to trails and provides a good deal of shock absorption as well.
Runners also love that this supportive design boasts a lightweight upper that keeps your feet cool and dry. It is composed of stretchy mesh materials that contour to the shape of your foot and work to lift sweat and hot air away from your feet where it quickly evaporates on the surface.
It is important to note that Hoka comes in at a pretty steep price point, but we feel that they are worth every penny! The durable EVA foam and the rubber outsole are built to last hundreds of miles before they start to show even a little bit of wear and tear. Plus, they come in a wide variety of unique color options and designs that are worth checking out.
2. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21
BioMoGo DNA and DNA LOFT midsole
Guide rail system
Great for overpronators
Mild arch support
The Adrenaline GTS 20 from Brook’s walks that fine line between a neutral trainer and a stability shoe. It is composed of lightweight materials to keep your movements light and snappy, and hosts supportive features to help neutralize your gait that will take the pressure off of your knees. Users also love that this option comes in a wide variety of colorful and unique styles that are bound to get you noticed!Read more
Runners can expect a high level of cushioning and support in the midsole of this design. It is composed of a blend of Brooks’ BioMoGo DNA and DNA LOFT foam materials that make you feel like you are running on a cloud. This midsole design works to absorb the impact when running on hard surfaces through all stages of your gait to keep your feet, ankles, and knees protected.
This option also includes a guide rail system to help with issues such as overpronation. When your gait is uneven, it often sends shockwaves of pain up to your knees and lowers back. By gently guiding your foot to strike the pavement evenly, this smart midsole reduces the shock to your knees and can prevent pain from happening in the first place.
What we love most about this design from Brooks is that it offers a lightweight and responsive design that is ideal not only for long distances but for speed as well. It is made from lightweight materials that help to guide your foot to an even gait which will cut down on pain to keep you out on the trails pain-free.
3. Mizuno Wave Rider 24
Comes in several color option
Great for those with wide feet
The Mizuno Wave Rider 24 are excellent lightweight and comfortable running shoes for knee pain. These shoes are cushioned to perfection while still maintaining their light weight so you don't have to sacrifice speed for additional support and stability.Read more
They are highly responsive and allow you to maintain your space and agility throughout your runs. Their flexible nature combined with the U4icX cushioning technology they utilize allows them to maintain the same levels of comfort during your entire run making them one of the best running shoes for knees on the market.
These shoes have a nice sleek design and come in several options to allow you to select any color or a different pattern since they can be used as casual shoes too.
The shoes have a higher cost and are far from the cheapest option in this category. However, the Mizuno Wave Rider 24 are well worth the price given all of the features, so this can be considered an acceptable investment into quality footwear.
4. Saucony Cohesion 13
Provides stability and support
Sizing runs small
This running shoe is a budget-friendly option that prevents and treats that pesky knee pain. These are some of the best running shoes for knee support because they provide you with stability during your runs as well as the comfort you need.Read more
These shoes are lightweight, comfortable, and well-cushioned. They have an injection molded EVA midsole for support and utilize GRID technology for shock absorption.
These s come with breathable mesh uppers that will keep your feet cool and dry as well as prevent blisters from forming. Overall, this goes a long way to minimize any setbacks you may have in tracking your progress on the track.
This option is really budget-friendly and great for almost all runners. Moreover, the fact that they are comfortable and have extra cushioning to give you maximum support shows that they are extremely valuable to those with knee pain and are looking for shoes that support their condition.
5. Hoka One One Bondi 7
Unmatched knee support
Great for long distances
Memory foam collar
While the Clifton 7 from Hoka is made to be a little more versatile, the Bondi 7 has one goal in mind: provide unmatched cushioning and knee support. If you find that your knees are screaming even at the end of an easy run, you definitely want to give the Bondi 7 a try. It may cost a little bit more than most, but we feel that they are well worth the extra cost.Read more
The most important feature to note about this design is that it boasts an impressive 33 mm stack height in the midsole. This higher stable is heavier than most and looks a little clunky, but few trainers are able to achieve the level of cushioning and impact absorption of the Bondi 7. If you can get past the initial clunk, your knees will thank you!
We also love the construction of the upper of the Bondi 7. It provides runners with a structured upper that is composed of mesh materials for breathability as well as synthetic overlays for additional support. It even offers a memory foam collar for extra comfort and locks your foot in place as you train.
If you are in the market for the best of the best and are willing to make a few sacrifices for your knees, the Bondi 7 is a great choice. It’s a little heavier and clunkier than sporty trainers designed for speed, but few shoes are able to provide the same level of stability and support as the Bondi 7!
6. Brooks Glycerin 19
Great for long distances
Thick DNA LOFT midsole
Brooks makes our list yet again with the Glycerin 19. What makes this design a little bit different from other Brook’s designs found on our list is the level of cushioning provided. If you feel that there is no such thing as too much cushioning and padding, this design is worth checking out. It is slightly heavier than other options, which means it may not be great for speed, but the higher durability and supportive features make it a perfect option for distance.Read more
What makes this design stand out from the pack of other Brooks trainers is the construction of the midsole. It is made from a thick layer of DNA LOFT foam materials that you can feel the minute you slip your foot inside of this shoe. It offers a springy ride that makes hard and unforgiving sidewalks feel like marshmallows.
Runners also love the construction of the upper of this design. It offers an internal stretch bootie that locks your foot in place for smoother movements and transitions. The upper is composed of breathable mesh materials with synthetic overlays for added stability and support on those long runs.
While this design is great for long distances, it’s important to note that it is a little on the heavy side. It weighs in at just over 10 ounces, which may slow you down a little bit. However, if you are in the market for an incredible stability trainer that is made to protect and comfort your knees over a long distance, you can’t go wrong with the Brooks Glycerin 19!
7. ASICS Gel Venture 7
Excellent shock absorption
Removable sock liner so you can insert your own orthotic
Few color options
Sizes run large
These ASICS shoes are great running shoes if you are experiencing knee pain. They provide optimal support, stability, and comfort as well as excellent shock absorption and flexibility.Read more
The Asics Gel Venture shoes utilize a Rearfoot GEL Cushioning System for maximum shock absorption. The additional padding allows you to maintain the comfort and cushioning you need during your run. These shoes also come with a removable sock liner, so you can insert your own orthotic to help with your knee pain.
They feature a unisex design and come in a variety of colors. Some may find them clunky since they don't have a sleek design but they still look like most traditional running shoes.
This option is highly affordable. While they aren't the absolute best option available, their features surpass their price point and they will definitely help you address and alleviate your knee pain.
8. Asics Gel Kayano 27
Shock absorption to alleviate knee pain
Ideal for knee issues and overpronation
Seamless upper for a glove-like fit
A bit expensive
Still has a slightly tight toe box
The Kayano 27 remains a top stability shoe for running, which also makes it a top choice for some of the more common causes of knee problems. With reduced weight compared to the previous version, the Kayano 27 has a few upgrades which make it a top-rated pick.Read more
The comfort of the Kayano 27 was made for runners who require or desire more support. In fact, the stability factor is what really makes these such a great option for those with knee problems, commonly by issues such as overpronation. As with all Asics shoes, you get that famous gel cushioning, which absorbs a lot of shock from the impact on the terrain.
In addition, the FluidFit seamless upper removes the chance of irritation from too many stitches inside. Along with the glove-like feel of the upper, the lacing system and the exoskeleton of the heel keep feet secure inside the shoe. The grip and traction control are just as good. The 27's are incredibly sturdy and stable and will leave you feeling in control whether you're running on flat ground or transitioning onto a hill.
There aren't any big complaints about the durability of the Kayano 27. They are said to hold up quite well in the long run, literally and figuratively. In all, these are solid, well-built runners that will give the support needed to relieve some of that knee pain while you go so no matter how costly you may find them, they are definitely worth every penny.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
As some knee problems can actually stem from issues with motion control or lack of proper stability, many of our choices are also good for providing other needed support. This footwear can be suitable for other conditions such as overpronation or underpronation.
Running without the necessary amount of stability needed for these types of foot conditions can actually add to the stress on the knee, causing more issues and further discomfort while running.
So, be sure you follow these criteria we laid out to find the best shoes for runners knee.
Really, who wants to run in a shoe that is terribly uncomfortable? Right, nobody wants that. Each of our picks have their own proprietary technologies when it comes to upper and underfoot comfort, but most have many things in common with each other. The models on our list have to provide enough underfoot comfort to alleviate some of the stress that will transfer to the knee while running.
With models built around things like DNA technology, REVlite midsole and Gel cushioning, our choices are designed with comfort in mind
The best running shoes for knee pain need to protect the wearer from experiencing pain in the first place. This can take the form of extra shock absorption but can also involve gait stabilization or a tight fit. However this is accomplished, the important thing is that the wearer no longer suffers from any chronic pain or soreness.
Aside from this, it's also important for any reputable pair of running shoes to protect the wearer's feet from a variety of hazards. In addition to knee pain, pains from other repetitive stress injuries need to be prevented. Protection from the elements is another important design aspect, especially if the wearer is interested in hiking or trail running.
They have to last as long as they are expected, bottom line. Digging deeper into it, if you have a pair that starts to fall apart right in the middle of a long run, there is a real potential for some kind of injury there. It could be a fall caused by the sole peeling off, the construction failing, causing a lack of the much needed support.
The options we have chosen for our list of best choices have all passed the durability test, when it comes to major issues which might affect their function and performance.
Shock absorption is super important when it comes to choosing a pair of running shoes for people with knee pain. While the stability and support that the shoes on our list offer the runner can help to keep your foot in proper placement while you run, a good shock absorption system will transfer some of the impact from each foot strike to the shoe instead of your body. This means that not only your knees but your hips and ankles as well will receive less wear and tear.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
If you're experiencing chronic knee pain and aren't sure how best to treat it, there are lots of effective ways to handle the situation. Whether its runner's knee, muscle strain, or arthritis, different methods of treatment exist that don't necessarily require talking to a doctor. For example, some homeopathic remedies such as massaging the effective area can greatly reduce swelling and soreness.
In the worst-case scenario where you experience unbearable knee pain while running with no way to treat it, you can always resort to alternative forms of cardiovascular exercise. Cycling and using an elliptical machine are easier on the knees, as is lap swimming. You could also try a seated rowing machine if even these exercises are too much to handle.
If you are experiencing a lot of knee pain while you run, you may want to talk about it with your doctor or health care provider. They can recommend treatments you could try and other ways to reduce your pain.
Other Factors to Consider
Consider getting shoes that have additional cushioning as this will reduce the shock impact on your knees. These types of shoes have the ability to fully absorb shock, hence the shock can’t reach the knees. They will help if you are walking or running on tough terrain.
Look for firm soles if you happen to suffer from over-pronation. This is a condition that is common among runners who have low arches. Over-pronation is one of the reasons that the lower knee and leg tends to have an inward rotation every time the runner’s foot strikes the ground. The rotation in turn leads to a painful strain on the knee.
If your knee pain persists and hasn’t improved even after wearing specialized shoes, it might be time to consider using specialized orthotics. For this, you will need to consult a trained professional who will then take molds of your feet in different positions, in order to see how your foot position sparks knee pain.
Using these molds they will create custom insoles which should align the foot and ankle better, hopefully putting an end to your medial or lateral pain.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Can running shoes help knee pain?
Absolutely! Often, the reason for your pain may be because you just aren't wearing the right pair of trainers. Brands such as Hoka One One and Brooks utilize high-end EVA foam midsoles that help to absorb the impact when running on hard surfaces. Features such as guide rails also help to evenly distribute the weight of your gait throughout your foot to take the pressure off of your joints.
q: Do shoes cause knee pain?
Your sporty pair of neutral trainers may help you engage in quick and snappy movements, but those movements may be putting undue wear and tear on your joints. Knees become inflamed when making repetitive impacts on the ground. If your trainers had minimal padding and your gait is uneven, your knees and lower back absorb much of the impact.
Ensuring that you lace up a pair of trainers with ample padding and features to help with overpronation can make all of the difference in the world!
q: Why would I run with knee pain?
It is not advisable to run when experiencing pain in your knee. It is advisable that you visit a doctor for them to help determine the cause of your injury. However, once you determine what is causing the pain, your therapist might ease you in on the track and help you on your way to recovery.
q: Are cushioned shoes better for running with knee pain?
Yes. Joint pain arises when the impact of the ground is sent straight up to your joints. If you have an uneven gait, are a heavy heel-striker, or are carrying a little bit of extra weight, your knees will suffer. Cushioned trainers work to absorb the impact from the ground and prevent it from being sent up to your joints.
If your knees are screaming at the end of even a short and easy run. High-cushioned designs like that from Hoka or Brooks are your best option.
q: What are the features of a good running shoe?
The shoe needs to be one that provides the best support and maximum cushioning. The shoe should also provide you with the needed joint protection and the right absorption of shock during step. Breathability, lightweight, cushioning and brand need to be perfect.
q: How costly is it to get a good running shoe?
You need to invest in the right brand and consider some that have just been described above. Depending on your budget, you might find the listed brands costly or not, but they are definitely worth the expense.
q: Will these shoes allow me to trail run?
When having problems with your knee, no matter the cushioning or features of the shoe you have on, you need to run on a smooth terrain. This will help you minimize further injury and will preserve your shoe brand.
q: Will these shoes really help my knee pain?
We wish we could say that the shoes on our list are a magic bullet that will cure all knee pain, but how effective they are depends on a host of factors including but not limited to: what's wrong with your knee in the first place, your injury history, your age, weight, and overall fitness level, as well as your diet and running style.
In the end, however, if you're experiencing pain in your knees or any of your lower body joints for that matter, running in a shoe that gives you added support and stability will almost definitely help you to feel better.
q: Do I need to buy the most expensive shoes available?
While it is true that you want to get the best shoes you can for your running gear, you do not have to go broke in the process. You can get quality running shoes that still fall within your budget and that can meet your wants and needs.