Best Running Shoes For Knee Pain Reviewed & Rated
The last, yet most important step before heading out for your jog is putting on your running shoes. Choosing the proper pair can mean the difference between a long satisfying workout, and one that ends in injury. This list will not only look at the top 10 running shoes for knee pain but will also explain the different types of pain and guide you in choosing what is best for you.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 105 hrs of research
Engineered Mesh Upper
GuideRails Holistic Support System
Blown Rubber Outsole
Adapts to Impact
Padded Tongue and Collar
Top 10 Running Shoes for Knee Pain
1. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 19
Engineered Mesh Upper
GuideRails Holistic Support System
Blown Rubber Outsole
Adapts to Impact
Padded Tongue and Collar
This stability running shoe by Brooks is a great choice for anyone who has knee problems and needs additional support. The latest editions of all their footwear have seen tremendous improvements in terms of fit and comfort, which means that the 19th iteration of the Adrenaline includes all the features that made it famous in the first place, with great improvements, especially in the upper. Perfect for those with flat to medium arches who tend to overpronate, this shoe was even designed to focus on the knees, so you surely won’t go wrong.
The GuideRails Holistic Support system was developed in order to address the pain certain runners seem to experience when training. It’s a system that puts a stabilizing component on the lateral heel and midfoot, locking you in and preventing overpronation. With the correct alignment, your knees won’t have to suffer from the excess shock, seeing that the force from impact will be absorbed where it should - in the midsole and arch. The DNA cushioning takes care of that, without sacrificing responsiveness, which makes this model feel great for runners of all size and shape.
The upper is made with engineered mesh for maximized breathability and a sock-like fit that won’t irritate, even if you prefer to run barefoot. The segmented crash pad accommodates all landings - heel and midfoot, and the blown rubber outsole provides plenty of grip and traction on all both concrete as well as light trail. The price of the Adrenaline GTS 19 is slightly higher than the average model on this list, however, if you’re after something that was made to treat knee pain specifically, it’s a great choice. It comes in several color options as well, from monochrome black to bright accents, so you can show off your personal style while on your morning jog.
2. ASICS GEL-Kayano 25
Stretch Jacquard Mesh Upper
No-sew Stability Underlays
Rearfoot and Forefoot GEL Cushioning
FlyteFoam Lite Midsole
Dynamic DuoMax Support
AHAR Plus Outsole
May Cause Ankle Blisters
Heavier Than Other Models
The ASICS GEL-Kayano is a shoe that’s been around for almost a quarter of a century, and it improves with every new version. The 25th edition of the shoe continues in what the line intends to do - supporting feet with low and flat arches for runners who tend to overpronate. In addition to ensuring proper alignment (and thus less pressure on all the joints in the body), ASICS does an excellent job at providing you with lightweight, responsive cushioning that won’t flatten even with everyday wear.
The GEL-Kayano 25 uses a Dynamic Duomax system to correct overpronation by placing a more supportive type of material on the inside portion of the shoe, thus preventing the runner from rolling inwards toward the big toe. Coupled with the FlyteFoam Lite midsole, you get an incredibly lightweight model that ensures excellent bounce back. Added impact protection is ensured through the rearfoot and forefoot GEL units, and the outsole uses AHAR Plus rubber compounds that are resistant to abrasion.
In the upper, you’ll benefit from a stretch jacquard mesh material that completely molds to your foot, providing it with all the breathability it needs. The padded tongue and collar prevent irritation, and an Internal Fit System uses no-sew underlays that will support the foot without creating any bulk. The price of the GEL-Kayano 25 is quite high, but if you want some of the best running gear one can get, it’s a definite winner.
3. Brooks Glycerin 17
Jacquard Mesh Upper
Stretch Internal Bootie
DNA Loft Heel Cushion
IDEAL Pressure Zones
Limited Color Schemes
Made to cushion instead of fixing pronation issues, the Brooks Glycerin 17 was released in March 2019 and has received stellar reviews from all those who need a maximalist shoe for neutral pronation and medium to high arches. Incredibly soft without packing too much weight, making it a great choice for longer runs in urban conditions. It comes in three width options: narrow, medium and wide, and though the color choices are still limited, it’s one of the most comfortable shoes from first wear you will find.
The upper still uses the same jacquard mesh like the previous edition, but what makes it truly exceptional is the internal stretch bootie that will completely mold to your foot, giving you an unparalleled fit that’s both supportive and flexible. 3D print overlays ensure support in the midfoot, and plush cushioning in the tongue and collar prevent chafing or blistering. The outsole uses flex grooves to maximize flexibility, while still providing plenty of grip through the small lugs.
As for the midsole, this is where the magic happens with the Glycerin. It uses a DNA Loft shock absorbing system in the heel that will prevent that shock from traveling up your legs and causing discomfort in the muscles and joints, while the IDEAL Pressure Zones disperse impact and evenly distribute it over the entire foot. The insole is made by OrthoLite for added cushioning, as well as for moisture management and odor prevention. It’s removable, making this shoe a good option even for those who need custom orthotics. In terms of price, it will set you back more than most models listed here, but that’s to be expected from flagship models by brands with such a good reputation as Brooks.
4. New Balance 990v4
Dual Density Foam Collar
ENCAP PU ring
Mesh and Leather
The low-top styled New Balance 990v4 gives ankle stability based on its construction, but also loads of cushioned comfort. Supportive features line the heel, midsole, and uppers, so you can rest assured you’ll stay stable and strong throughout your runs. With a number of color options and combinations, from neutrals to brighter yellows and blues, it makes it a stylish option as well as functional.
Amidst the midsole of the shoe lies an EVA cushioned footbed, along with ENCAP PU ring. This ring consists of a core of EVA, contained inside a shell of polyurethane to give added stability and shock absorption just where you need it most—the heel. A dual density foam collar helps to keep you going without fear of blisters or rubbing.
Uppers are created from a mix of textile and leather, with mesh to keep them breathable during wear. Leather along the uppers helps give some lateral support and helps encapsulate the foot for a secure fit. Finish it all off with a snug lace-up closure for an adjustable fit, for your preference of comfort. Depending on colors selected, the New Balance 990v4 can be quite averagely priced, to one of the more expensive options found on our list. For those experiencing knee pain during running, however, it’s a great option to consider with its ENCAP PU ring and EVA footbed, supporting and cushioning you even during heel strikes. Well worth a look before buying your next pair of running sneakers.
5. Mizuno Wave Rider 22
Several Width Options
Wave Plate Technology
Cushioning and Durable Outsole
Upper Tends to Bunch
The thing that's special about Mizuno running footwear is that the brand uses their patented Wave plate technology to absorb shock and provide guidance to runners who need impact protection or simply suffer from pronation issues. The Wave Rider 22 is a neutral model made for road conditions, which means it will work best for those with a medium arch who need a little bit of guidance to ensure proper push off.
The upper utilizes a Dynamotion Fit system which actually uses stretch fibers in the forefoot to ensure flexibility and unrestrained motion, while still providing a good amount of support in the midfoot area. The Cloudwave plate runs from the heel to the midfoot and absorbs and disperses shock, preventing it from traveling up your legs and causing knee or muscle pain. As for the insole, it’s anatomically shaped, which means you’ll still get a bit of arch support, without going overboard, and the entire midsole uses U4icX which is both soft, flexible and long-lasting.
The outsole combines blown and carbon rubber for the best combination of shock absorption and durability. The inside uses moisture wicking materials to keep odors at bay, and the model is reasonably priced so you won’t have to spend a fortune on a pair of running shoes that will work well for your needs.
6. Hoka One One Bondi 6
EVA Foam Midsole
Early Stage Meta-Rocker Geometry
Numerous Color Schemes
A maximalist road runner with a low drop of only 4mm, the Hoka One One Bondi 6 was developed for providing premium shock absorption for those who need extra impact protection (or just prefer a more cushioned ride). It’s a shoe made for neutral pronators, and it does well for everyday wear, or even marathons. Compared to previous versions, the 6 offers a higher level of breathability, which is crucial in hot summer months and hard training sessions.
The upper uses open air mesh for a higher amount of air flow, while the heel is lined with soft lyca that’s both comfortable to the touch and has moisture wicking properties. Reinforced eyelets ensure durability, and a pull tab at the heel makes on and off easier than ever.
As for the midsole, it is made with soft EVA foam for a good amount of shock absorption, while the entire unit is made with an Early Stage Meta-Rocker Geometry which ensures quick and smooth transitions. Lightweight rubber is used on the outsole to prevent wear and provide traction. As for the price, the Bondi 6 doesn’t exactly come cheap, but if you want a maximalist model by a brand that specializes in this type of running gear, then it’s definitely worth checking out.
7. Saucony Cohesion 10
The updated model of Saucony’s Cohesion 9 is making a statement for those who require support, cushion and want a pain free run. With technology that stabilizes the heel, comfort to wrap the ankle and arch, and breathable mesh uppers, it’s sure to have you stepping out ready to tackle that long run of the week. Ideal for longer distances with a plush sole, and stylish with its color options, there’s so many reasons why it hits number one on our list!
Designed for the neutral runner, the Cohesion 10 boasts of breathable mesh uppers, making it lightweight and comfortable for longer periods of wear, and loads of technology for cushioning. An injection molded EVA midsole helps to give support and underfoot comfort during your run. GRID technology provides Hytrel filament impact absorption in the heel of the shoe, to help cushion each heel strike.
Along with the many comfort aspects of the Cohesion 10, it has a thick plush sole to keep you going long, with grippy traction, suitable for all kinds of road surface you encounter. A plush tongue and collar help minimize rubbing or irritation from movement. Colorful design options in neutral tones keep this sleek and stylish, great for runs or just wearing about town. Definitely one of the more budget-friendly options on our list, it still packs all the quality comfort and stability needed for those with knee pain who enjoy running. GRID technology helps eliminate shock, while EVA midsole provides a cushioned ride. The lightweight mesh helps cut down on foot fatigue, so they are great for longer runs when combined with the thick cushioned sole. A great option for any runner to consider!
8. Skechers Energy Afterburn
Padded Tongue and Collar
For 25 years Skechers has been creating products with the consumer in mind. Over the years they have strived to develop shoes that meet all consumers lifestyle needs. These Energy Afterburn running shoes are no exception. Made of leather to withstand all weather conditions, lug rubber outsole for increased traction and adding pull tabs on the tongue and heel for easy on and off.
With shoes that are made to fit snug, one of the most daunting tasks (other than the run itself, of course) is taking your shoes on and off. Though it may seem like an almost unnoticeable feature, the ease these small tabs provice can make all the difference when it comes down to the final decision on choice of shoe.
In addition to the slip-resistant qualities of rubber outsoles, lug rubber; generally used on boots or hiking shoes, has deep indentations that are ideal for traction and stability. Though Skechers has become a more than reputable brand over the years, they have managed to maintain a fair price range for their buyers. Though not the most stylish compared to others on the list, they offer a nice neutral color selection, and a wide range of sizes.
9. Salomon Speedcross 4
Minimalistic Lace Up Detailing
Laces Can Be Hard to Loosen
A different style than any other running shoe on this list. The Salomon Speedcross' have an almost cleat-like look making them ideal for running through forests and trails. With an aggressive, trustworthy grip, and well cushioned midsole these shoes will fit like a glove and provide exceptional support.
Feeling like you may slip at any time, and injure yourself especially while on steep or slippery terrains like mountains takes the fun away from running. This is where Salomons Contagrip comes in. Developed with different densities and compounds, to make sure you could perform to the best of your ability, regardless of the terrain or weather conditions.
With technologies such as Sensifit, your feet will feel cradled, giving you an incredibly snug yet comfortable, almost customized fit. The Quicklace one-pull tightening feature makes it not only a breeze to take them on and off, but also ensures a quick secure fit. A great deal considering it is a shoe unlike any other on this list. The Contagrip feature is ideal for anyone who enjoys being adventurous and trail running, but has concerns about the impact it may have on their bodies.
10. Puma Tazon 6
EVA Heel Pod
True to Size
Raised Heel for Added Stability
Take Time to Take On and Off
A stylish design that makes it easy for you to go from running on the track, to running errands seamlessly. Though it may appear to simply be for looks, it goes far beyond in delivering excellent support and functionality.
Not only is the heel-pod made with durable foam for great shock absorption, it is also slightly raised taking any tension off of your achilles. Giving you proper support for your feet and legs. Not only made to provide optimum comfort, but you can feel good in every way while wearing this environmentally friendly sockliner. Not only are they breathable, wicking away moisture while you run, but they also are made to retain their thickness and shape, ensuring you have long-lasting support.
For a well made name-brand running shoe you would expect the cost to be quite high. Puma however, not only made a high quality shoe, but a versatile one at that. Great for running, walking, or just being on your feet, you will be provided with all day comfort and support.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
The first thing to look for and consider when knee pain starts to arise is the type of support your current pair of running shoes offer and whether it is enough or actually too much. Yes, there is such thing as too much support, and a lot of the times people actually have a running shoe with too much and don’t even realize it. There are generally two types of runners, and they both need very different things when it comes to running shoes.
Runners with a neutral stride will maintain balance throughout their run which prevents any sort of misalignment that can potentially put unwanted stress on muscles and joints. If you are a lightweight runner you do not need a lot of support and want an almost barefoot feel. A shoe with too much cushioning and bulk is what could possibly be causing your pain because it is providing you with unnecessary support and altering the way your foot lands when you run.
Runners With Pronation Problems
Pronation is when the ankle rolls either inward or outward when running; overpronation and underpronation. The first step is to determine which you are; if your foot rolls inward you overpronate whereas outward means you underpronate. If this affects you, it important to purchase the proper footwear that will correct the problem and alleviate any pain you experience while running.
If you have switched running shoes to ones that better accommodate your running style, and knee pain yet still find issues arise throughout a run it is important to evaluate your overall strength and level of fitness. One of the best ways other than the proper pair of shoes to alleviate pain is to have good hip and core strength. When your entire body is in alignment and strong it takes pressure off of specific body parts and prevents painful injuries.
It is also imperative to listen to your body and not ignore signs that there is a potential issue. If at the beginning of your run you instantly feel a sharp pain, or pressure, something is not right; whether that be your posture or your footwear. Evaluate if you should continue your run or not, knee issues are serious and are not something you should “push through”.
When you go for a run you may think that you’re doing something great for your body; getting in shape and being healthy, however without proper running shoes and cushioning you can potentially cause long-term damage to your body. Running is a very high impact activity and every time your foot strikes the ground you are transferring up to 3 times your body weight onto your joints. You may not notice pain right away, but after time with incorrect shoes, you will.
Investing in the right pair of running shoes is crucial to ensuring you are getting a satisfying workout while not putting pressure on your knees. Most think that the more cushioning, the better; that it will absorb all shock and alleviate any possible pain, however, this has been proven to not always be the case.
--You run on the balls of your feet
--The arch of your foot flattens to provide stability and a spring to your step
--Your feet and toes splay naturally
--Elevated heel causes you to run heel first
--Transmit the shock back up your body and joints
Rather than investing in a pair of running shoes with an unnecessary amount of cushioning, try running with your regular runners but on softer surfaces like tracks, trails or grass. Most runners think they need that extra cushion to absorb the shock from their feet striking the hard ground, however, if you swap out that hard ground for something much softer, the impact is much smaller.
That isn’t to say you do not need cushioning and should scrap a shoe with soft foam insoles altogether, it just means you should analyze what truly feels best for you and leaves you pain-free. A lot of the time if you are in need of proper support determined by a doctor, medical orthotics are given to prevent injury and can be slid into most shoes. If you are unsure of the type of insoles your shoes should have, and how much cushioning is right for you, consult with your podiatrist about potential orthotic options.
As your shoes become more and more worn they are less able to properly cushion your feet and absorb impact, always keep an eye on your shoes and keep in mind how long you have had them. If you start to notice your feet or legs are sore after a run, it may be time to invest in a new pair. Running shoes have an expiry date and for your overall health, they should not be worn past it.
Running shoes with quite a bit of cushioning are best suited for those with a higher arch in their feet that need extra help with shock absorption. You will notice right away if you are wearing a running shoe that does not offer you proper arch support because you will feel the brunt of the impact in your heel and toes; as there is less surface area for the entire foot to absorb impact. If you are not sure what type of arch you have the easiest test is to dampen your foot and step onto a piece of paper or paper towel.
If the about half of the arch area is filled in you have a natural arch, which is the most common and means your arch and foot naturally absorb the shock caused by your body weight while running, and most types of running shoes should fit well.
If you can see almost the entire surface area of your arch you have “flat feet” meaning your feet roll inwards when you run, this can be good for shock absorption, but negative for your knees.
If your print has a thin line or no arch area at all you have high arches and are in need of extra cushioning.
The sole of a shoe is one of the most important aspects and should be a key factor when looking at new shoes. Depending on how and where you will be wearing your new shoes, the sole can affect performance and keep you stable and injury free. This is where shock absorption and motion control happen and picking your shoe based on style or design and not if the features are specific to your needs or not can be harmful.
Know the difference between soles, and that some are not made for certain terrains for a reason. Trail shoes commonly have a soft rubber sole; this allows for optimum grip on slippery, rocky and muddy terrains. This sole is not made or cement and therefore it will wear out much quicker than normal.
You may think your running shoes have more life left in them, and try to drag out the use of them way past their shelf life, however replacing them when the time is right is the best way to keep your performance strong, and avoid injuries. Runners should be replaced generally after about 400 miles, or when you begin to notice wear and tear. Depending on the amount you wear your shoes after a few months take the time to evaluate the condition they are in, and if they still feel like they did when you first got them and offer the same support.
The best way to determine whether or not your shoes are still wearable is simply by listening to your body and recalling if everything feels right when you wear them, or if you notice unusual pain throughout your run, or your feet are sore afterward. A little pain at first can quickly become a bad problem if it is ignored. If you start to notice pain, take a look at the bottom of your shoes as well. If the soles appear worn or cracked that is a good sign that it’s time for a new pair.
Stability is key to ensuring you stay injury free, and if the soles of your shoes are not designed for the terrain you plan on running on, you will not grip the surface properly and can easily slip and fall. There are many different types of running shoes for a reason, and these should not be mismatched. If you wish to run on trails some days, and along the sidewalk on others, you need two different types of running shoes to ensure proper grip and comfort.
Choosing the proper running shoe that fits your foot perfectly is crucial, and not always the easiest task. First and foremost take trends and style out of the equation and focus on what will feel best for you. Just because a shoe looks nice does not mean it is going to do anything beneficial to you, and what use is a stylish pair of runners if you can’t even wear them due to pain and discomfort.
The first place to start is your size; this may seem simple, you always buy the same size but you shouldn’t because all shoes and brands fit differently. You may be a specific size in one brand, but a completely different one in another, never try to make a pair of shoes fit, they either do or they don’t. Running shoes require no break-in period and should feel great instantly. If for whatever reason you notice irritation or your toes being pinched they are not fitted properly.
Never try to make a pair of running shoes fit by tying the laces as tight as you can, or hoping after a few uses they will stretch out. Depending on the material your shoes may expand slightly, but not enough to alleviate major discomfort. The top of your foot also has a lot of tendons and nerves that can be easily damaged when tight unnecessary pressure is applied there throughout intense physical activities.
Although tenderness and pain in the knees can be caused by a lot of different things the easiest and first thing you should look at changing is your shoes. If after being certain you have the proper fitted running shoes, you still experience discomfort you need to take a break from running and get to the root of the problem.
When slipped on and tied properly, your running shoes should fit nice and snug, but not tight anywhere throughout the shoe. Your heel should stay firmly in place and not rise with each step; this will affect your stability and cause irritations and blisters on your heel. Knowing the specific features you need in a runner, will make the buying process much easier, and leave you solely focusing on fit.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
If you're experiencing knee pain due to running, it can be a sign of something more critical going on that needs the attention of a medical professional.
Sometimes, sneakers with over the suggested mileage on them (between 300-500) can cause knee pain just due to the breakdown of the shoe's supportive materials and cushion. If you've already replaced your footwear, it's time to see a doctor for a more in depth diagnosis.
R.I.C.E. stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. With chronic inflammation in specific areas of our bodies, resting them can help alleviate pain. Ice helps reduce swelling and inflammation, while compression to support the area brings some added relief as well. Elevating the affected area helps reduce swelling.
Anti-inflammatories will help reduce inflammation and swelling as well. If you're running with knee pain, after your workouts, try to at least sit for a bit, ice your knees, and elevate your feet to help alleviate swelling.
Other Factors to Consider
It is important to understand the cause of your pain before deciding on a running shoe. A huge concern associated with knee pain is over-pronation of the feet. Finding a shoe that stabilizes the heel, and a midsole that resists collapse will keep your feet and knees in proper alignment throughout your entire workout. It makes no difference how much cushioning a shoe has, or how breathable the mesh is if the shoe does not fit your foot properly. One of the most important aspects when choosing the right running shoe is to ensure the correct fit, which will, in turn, deliver the most support. Not too snug, and most certainly not too loose.
Taking the extra step to get your foot sized will help in the process of finding what is right for you. If medical orthotics are needed to help stabilize your feet, it is essential to find running shoes that are either wide enough to accommodate them, or that have removable insoles/sock liners.
While knee pain or injury is something as many as 70% of people will suffer from at one point in their lives, it does not have to stop you from performing your favorite exercise, such as running. Running may be good for your health but it hasn’t always been proven to be great on our bodies, more specifically our knees. The most effective way to prevent pain or injury while running is to find the perfect running shoe for your specific needs.
First and foremost it is crucial to find out what the root cause of your knee pain is, making it easier to find a running shoe that will help ease it. This list consists of incredible options that will aid in different ways, so you, the runner must first know what it is you are looking for in a shoe.
Are you feeling pain in your knees every time you run? There are many reasons and causes for knee pain; inner or outer pain, IT band injuries, but one of the main factors tends to be related to how your foot lands during a run. A shoe that encourages you to land on your midfoot, rather than your heel, will help distribute weight to your muscles instead of your joints, thus preventing future injuries. Running on softer surfaces such as your local track, or on dirt trails lessens the impact on your knees. Remember, not all running shoes are a one size fits all, there will be a pair that fits someone like a glove, yet leaves you sore at the end of a run. You must understand your body and its needs first and foremost.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Can I still run with knee pain?
If you are currently experiencing no pain, no you should not continue running. It is important to first find the cause of it, and see what changed can be made to better accommodate the pain and pressure on your knees. Sometimes it is as simple as switching up your running shoes, and other times it can be damaged to the point where you may need to see a physical therapist. Change up your shoes and see if you notice a difference, and go from there.
q: What style of running shoes is best for knee pain?
Any running shoe that offers joint protection and provides proper cushioning and support to fit your foot and body’s need is best. Everyone’s feet are different and just because two people suffer from knee pain does not mean they will have the same solution. Assess your foot, arch type and the type of running you wish you do and on what terrain, these will all be factors in what shoe works best for you.
q: Are good quality running shoes expensive?
In short, yes they are. If you are serious about running and are in need of shoes that will offer proper support your basic, cheap department store running shoes are probably not going to last very long, or feel too good. If you are looking to invest in a proper pair of running shoes, take the time to find a pair that suits your needs.
q: When should my runners be replaced?
The general rule of thumb, is every 400 miles or so unless you start to notice a change in how the look or feel sooner. If you notice pain after a run, or your performance start to shift take a look at the shoe, mainly the sole and see if it is cracked, or significantly worn down. If that’s the case they need to be replaced immediately before possible injuries occur.
q: What is the best terrain to run on?
If you are in need of extra cushioning, and shock absorption, softer grounds like trails and tracks are ideal. Running shoes do not all work on the same grounds though, so be sure that you are buying trail shoes or ones with softer soles.
q: Do running shoes stretch?
No, so if they do not fit well immediately, they probably never will. There is no break-in period with running shoes, and although after time they may mold to your foot slightly and stretch here and there, there will be no significant stretching happening. If they are pinching or irritating certain parts of your foot they only going to cause more problems in the long run.
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