Best Cushioned Shoes Reviewed & Rated

Shoes are essential; they protect your feet from the elements, and they give you support to prevent injury.  However, many shoes are painful to wear. They lack cushioning and padding and, as such, you step on a rock while you’re hiking and agony lights up your foot.  Or you step on something hard in your office shoes and you really wish that the universe conspired to make better shoes.  Fortunately for all of us, the universe did conspire to make better, more cushioned shoes.

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By NicoleH:

We've updated the best cushioned shoes to include a few summertime options such as wedges and flip flops, and added a few more formal styled shoes as well. All are rated top in terms of comfort and cushioning, so you'll be sure to find a perfect pair! Our criteria section will help you decide what to look for in your next new cushioned shoes.

Shoes come in a variety of cushioning levels. There are minimalist shoes with the least amount of cushioning, which is supposed to help your feet move without being inhibited so you can run faster. Then you have neutral shoes, which balance cushioning and minimalist traits, and you have maximalist shoes, which are shoes with the most cushioning available. There are pros and cons to each type of shoe, but this list focuses on the shoes with the most amount of cushioning, and thus, the most comfort for your feet.

Featured Recommendations

Clarks Breeze Sea
  • Clarks Breeze Sea
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Adjustable
  • Clarks Comfort Cushion
  • Price: See Here
Brooks Ghost 10
  • Brooks Ghost 10
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Cushioning
  • Athletic Sneaker
  • Price: See Here
Clarks Annadel Eirwyn
  • Clarks Annadel Eirwyn
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Ortholite Footbed
  • Dressy Wedge
  • Price: See Here

Your feet are likely your primary vehicle for getting around, and they deserve the very best in comfort and support.  So, why punish your feet for doing their job?  Find the most comfortable, cushioned shoes here and give your feet a treat.

 

10 Best Cushioned Shoes

 

1. Clarks Breeze Sea

Who better to top our list of the best cushioned shoes than Clarks? The Breeze Sea Flip Flop, although a sandal, has received rave reviews for its cushioned sole and open feel. And in the heat of summertime, it’s one of the best options around whether you’re sitting by the pool, or strolling around the lake. An adjustable strap ensures you get the best fit possible, and a lightweight EVA footbed and midsole help to make it one of the most cushioned sandals you’ll ever own.
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EVA comfort
The midsole of the Breeze Sea Flip Flop was designed with EVA to offer firm, yet cushioned support. A soft EVA footbed leaves each step feeling padded and plush, all while keeping the shoe lightweight to help alleviate foot fatigue. It’s the Clarks comfort the brand is renowned for, all wrapped into a sporty sandal for summertime wear.

Design
Along with its great cushioning features, The Clarks Breeze Sea Flip Flop embraces the thong style sandal to help make your strides even more comfortable with an open design. Synthetic straps keep it water resistant and soft against the top of the foot, while an adjustable hook and loop closure allows you to fit the sandal to your liking. With numerous options for colors, and a great footbed pattern, they are a stylish flip flop option!

Cost and Value
For a sandal, these run about average in price, but for Clarks quality comfort, it’s a bargain. EVA footbed and midsole give ample cushioning for all day wear, and the open sandal design allows for an adjustable fit. You’re sure to find one that suits your style from the abundant color options to choose from. Take them out to the beach, stroll the boardwalk, or just chill at your next casual gathering!
Pros

Price

Flip Flop Design

Lightweight

EVA footbed

Adjustable

Cons

Run Large

Durability

Summer Shoe

2. Brooks Ghost 10

It may not look like much, but the Brooks Ghost 10 has state-of-the-art cushioning technology and protects your feet with a segmented crash pad. The tapering effect on this shoe supports natural foot motion and the soft fabric lining provides a gentle embrace. The rubber outsole helps cushion your feet as you run or walk. It’s stylish and sleek too.
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BioMoGo DNA
Brooks’s MoGo cushioning technology boasts increased cushioning compared to other synthetic soles, but the BioMoGo midsole in this shoe has the added benefit of being environmentally friendly because it’s biodegradable.

Plush Tongue and Collar
The tongue and collar of this shoe are soft and plush, giving your ankles and the top of your feet extra padding. This prevents injuries to your vulnerable Achilles tendons.

Cost and Value
The Ghost 10 is in the middle-to-high price range, but you are getting a respected brand and a comfortable running shoe. The Ghost 10 balances excellent cushioning with lightweight support.
Pros
  • BioMoGo DNA
  • Soft Fabric Lining
  • Plush Tongue and Collar
  • Full-Length Segmented Crash Pad
  • Soft Rubber Sole
Cons
  • Not very supportive
  • Grips may come loose

3. UGG Ansley Moccasin

Nothing says comfort like having your feet wrapped in soft, plush, warm material. UGG created the Ansley Moccasin to embody the best of quality materials constructed for cushioned comfort. Soft UGGpure wool hugs your feet with a warmth and feel unlike any other, while exterior uppers combine pig leather and dyed sheep fur for different color options and style. Best for winter or cooler weather, they will have you curled up by the fire enjoying your next new novel, or lounging about the house in foot bliss.
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UGGpure wool
Soft, plush, and cozy, UGGpure wool lines the inside of this slipper to wrap your foot in warmth comfort. Water resistant uppers from Silkee suede make it easy to clean by simply blotting out stains or dirt with soap and water. A snug fit keeps them firmly on the foot, but doesn’t restrict when standing. All the classic comforts of UGG brand shoes wrapped into a luxurious feel.

Cushioning
The UGG Ansley Moccasin has a molded rubber outsole, which does allow for both outdoor use as well as indoor use. Easy to pair with skirts, shorts, or pants, several color options make it simple to pair to any attire. The UGGpure wool lining will keep you cushioned with each step, and once on, you may not want to take these off.

Cost and Value
For those listed here, this runs slightly more expensive than some, but stays true to what you’d expect to pay for similar UGG brand footwear. It’s cozy moccasin design combined with UGGpure wool lining make these an addiction your feel will love. Great to pair with any outfit, and for both indoor and outdoor use, it’s a solid option to consider!
Pros

UGGpure Wool

Slipper Design

Color Options

Molded Rubber Outsole

Warm

Cons

Color Can Stain

Run Tight

Price

4. Asics Gel Nimbus 18

4. Asics Gel Nimbus 18
The Gel Nimbus is a long-running model from ASICS, which means they’ve had a lot of time to figure out the best balance between cushion and support. Its padding is superb. The seamless construction protects your toes from rubbing against an abrasive seam. It comes in a variety of colors, too. This shoe is the best choice for maximum comfort.
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FluidRide Midsole
The FluidRide Midsole cushions your feet and gives you some bounce back to make your walk or run more comfortable. This midsole was also designed to be lightweight and durable.

GEL Cushioning for Rear- and Forefoot
ASICS’s GEL Cushioning absorbs the shock from running and walking, which gives the shoe a walking-on-air feel. The cushioning in this shoe gives protection to your heel and your toes.

Cost and Value
The Gel Nimbus 18 is in the middle-to-high price range, but you are getting the best deal by purchasing this high-quality shoe. It also bears a stylish and eye-catching design.
Pros
  • FluidRide Midsole
  • GEL Cushioning for Rear- and Forefoot
  • Seamless Construction
  • Athletic Performance Driven
  • Stylish and Eye-catching Design
Cons
  • Toebox is smaller than previous Nimbus models
  • Shoe size may run small

5. Timberland White Ledge

5. Timberland White Ledge
When we think of comfortable cushioned shoes, we may not necessarily think about work boots, but, the Timberland White Ledge combines the two perfectly. And who wouldn’t want a work boot that has the ultimate ride for your feet while plowing away at the daily grind? Removable EVA dual density footbed, padded collar and a gusseted tongue all contribute to this boot’s cushioned features, and it’s worth a look if you like your work boot to keep maximal cushioning on the job!
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Hiking Style Boot
Some of the most comfortable footwear on the market include hiking boots, designed for long hours on rugged terrain. The White Ledge is just that! A hiker style boot, with leather oiled to perfection finish, and a thick rugged sole to keep you going through all day wear or walking. Lace up closure helps seal you snuggly in and prevents heel lift, so you can adjust the fit to your liking.

Cushion Technology
Padded comfort surrounds the boot collar, helping to prevent any chaffing or rubbing on the ankles. A gusseted tongue is amply padded to lessen any sort of irritation to the ankles or tops of the feet as well. EVA dual density footbed lines the inside, which is removable should you want to use custom orthotics instead.

Cost and Value
For a hiking boot, it’s averagely priced compared to other quality brands such as Merrell or KEEN. The Timberland White Ledge gives you the iconic Timberland styling in a hiking boot, loaded with all the features needed for all day walking or wear. Take them out for a spin on your favorite trail or next night in town!
Pros

Hiking Boot

Removable Footbed

EVA footbed

Rugged Sole

Padded Collar

Cons

Grommet Durability

Lace Durability

Price

6. Rockport Style Leader 2 Bike

6. Rockport Style Leader 2 Bike
The Rockport Style Leader is a dapper looking loafer, which is perfect for any office environment. The cushioning in this shoe protects your feet and prevents pain during those long days at the office. It comes in a few colors and the sleek design of the shoe will help you make a strong impression on your coworkers, boss, and clients.
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Sponge EVA Footbed
The Sponge EVA footbed conforms to your foot, like memory foam. It is durable and comfortable and offers your feet protection from the shock of briskly walking through the office.

Synthetic Sole
The synthetic sole’s grooves make the shoe more flexible. It gives the shoe a secondary layer of cushioning and shock absorption, which in turn reduces foot fatigue, improving your workday.

Cost and Value
The Rockport Style Leader 2 Bike is in the middle-to-upper price range. Wearing these shoes will prove to you, your boss, and your coworkers that comfort can be stylish, too.
Pros
  • Sponge EVA footbed
  • Synthetic Sole
  • Bicycle Toe
  • Dewix Anti-Microbial Lining
  • Leather
Cons
  • Size runs narrow
  • May be a little bulky

7. Clarks Annadel Eirwyn

7. Clarks Annadel Eirwyn
Clarks hits the list again with the Annadel Eirwyn Wedge, an elevated dressier style of footwear, but not lacking in comfort. Packed with Clarks classic cushioning and quality make, this wedge is perfect for nights out on the town where you don’t want to sacrifice style for comfort. And, with plenty of colorful options to consider choosing, you can pair these with just about any outfit!
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Adjustable Style
Wrapping the foot are two stylish intertwining thick Nubuck leather straps, helping to secure the shoe to your foot, but soft to the touch. An adjustable hook and loop closure wraps around the backside of the ankle above the heel, so you can get the perfect fit. And with a nearly three-inch heel, this little wedge accentuates the foot and calves, making it great to pair with dressier skirts and sundresses.

Clarks Comfort
Cushion soft comfort technology makes up the construction of the Annadel Eirwyn, so each step feels padded and soft. An Ortholite footbed adds superior cushion and shock absorption to your feet, and the design of the wedge itself helps contribute to an even better feel. Made from cork, the wedge helps absorb impact, and with a bit of a rocker design, it promotes proper foot gait from heel to toe.

Cost and Value
When compared to other Clark brand shoes, it’s quite a budget friendly option. Compared to dressier styles of wedges, it’s definitely a bargain. With wedge design, colorful Nubuck leather straps, and ample cushioned support, for those in search of a dressier option of footwear, this is a no-brainer!
Pros

Dressy Sandal

Wedge

Clarks Cushioned Comfort

Adjustable

Price

Cons

Run Narrow

Durability

8. Skechers Sure Track Trickel

8. Skechers Sure Track Trickel
The Sure Track Trickel is great for office work environments that don’t require loafers or dress shoes. It has a clean design, doesn’t draw undue attention to itself, and the cushioning is superb. Skechers is a well-known brand with a lot of experience in making the finest shoes. This shoe even professes to have some electrical hazard protection built in!
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Removable Memory Foam Insole
Memory Foam is some of the softest materials used in mattresses and bath rugs and now it’s in your shoes! Memory foam conforms to your feet to provide maximum comfort.

FlexSole Shock Absorbing Midsoles
The FlexSole Shock Absorbing Midsoles in these shoes offer you added comfort and protection. The shock absorption can prevent injury and cushions your feet as you walk, run, or jog.

Cost and Value
The Sure Track Trickel is in the low-to-middle price range. The price makes it great for someone looking for a reliable, sturdy, and nice-looking work shoe on a limited budget.
Pros
  • Removable Memory Foam Insole
  • FlexSole Shock Absorbing Midsole
  • Electrical Hazard Protection
  • Composite Safety Toe
  • Slip Resistant
Cons
  • “Steel Safety Toe” is not an actual steel toe
  • May need to be broken in
  • Can get smelly

9. Clarks Desert Chukka

9. Clarks Desert Chukka
Clarks makes its last appearance on our list with the Desert Chukka Boot. A more business style footwear, the chukka boot can be worn to the office, and for more formal occasions, but also with your favorite pair of jeans for a casual outing. With its rich suede leather look, simple lace closure, and Clarks cushioned comfort, it’s sure to win your feet over. And, with the number of options in color or texture you can select, you’re sure to find one you love!
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Cushioned Comfort
Soft suede leather makes up the uppers of the Desert Chukka Boot, which rises just above the ankle. A slightly stacked heel gives you a confident stride, while inside lies a stabilizing heel counter, lined with suede. A soft crepe sole inspired from boots worn by British officers in WWII, gives a gummy soft feel to your step, while maintaining great traction.

Stylish Design
The simplicity of the chukka boot lies in the clean sleek design of the uppers, sweeping up over the ankle, with a minimal lace closure. They take on a relaxed appearance, but are classy enough to wear during business hours or in the evenings when out for dancing or other occasions. The Desert Chukka Boot is available in a number of colors and some with perforated uppers to help keep you cooler in warm weather.

Cost and Value
Depending on the color option selected, these can range in price from something quite reasonable to something slightly more expensive than some on our list. However, this style of boot is a timeless classic to add to your footwear collection, and packs versatility with its use for wearing. Great for business, casual, summer and winter, you can’t go wrong with the Dessert Chukka Boot!
Pros

Price

Dress Boot

Leather

Clarks Cushioned Comfort

Cons

Run large

Require Break In

10. ECCO New Jersey

10. ECCO New Jersey
This stylish Oxford comes with padding and a foam insole to provide shock-absorption and comfort, but these are just the beginning of this shoe’s great features. The polyurethane sole provides extra shock-absorption and cushioning while the bicycle-style toe provides ample toe space for your toes to spread out naturally. The stacked heel also provides added shock-absorption properties to this Oxford.
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Leather-Covered Foam Insole
ECCO’s New Jersey Lace Oxford has a responsive, leather-covered foam insole which provides ample cushioning and great breathability features to help manage the temperature in the shoe as you walk.

Padded Collar
The lightly padded collar in this stylish loafer offers some protection against painful rubbing and minor bumps. It’s also lined with a soft fabric to add to your overall comfort.

Cost and Value
This dapper ECCO loafer can be found in the middle-to-upper price range, which can be quite affordable for the shock-absorbing polyurethane sole, high-quality leather, and AGION antibacterial and antimicrobial treatment.
Pros
  • Leather-Covered Foam Insole
  • Padded Collar
  • Firm Polyurethane Sole
  • Bicycle Toe
  • Stacked Heel
  • AGION Antibacterial and Antimicrobial Treatment
  • Lace-up
Cons
  • Insert is not removable
  • Sizing runs narrow

Naturally, many of the shoes on this list are for running, but in your search for cushioned shoes, don’t limit yourself to just athletic shoes.  Cushioned, comfortable shoes don’t have to be running shoes.  They can be office shoes, like the Clarks Desert Chukka.  You can walk around the office in style without sacrificing comfort.  Cushioned shoes also don’t have to be expensive.  Be a savvy shopper and you’ll be able to land a decent pair of well-cushioned shoes for a fair price.

In your search, be sure to consider the durability and longevity of each shoe and its cushioning.  If it’s going to fall apart after a day or two, you will want to look into a different pair.  Be sure to note if the shoe you are interested in runs small or runs large, too.  Otherwise, you may find yourself with a shoe that is your size, but it doesn’t fit.

Be good to your feet and invest in a cushioned shoe to decrease pain from walking, running and working.  Hopefully, this list will help you make an educated decision on finding the most comfortable shoes for you.

 

Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Cushioned Shoes

The best-cushioned shoes obviously have ample cushioning features from insole to outsole, but they also have padding and soft linings to further increase your comfort. It should be noted, though, that cushioning isn’t the only feature that matters in finding the best shoes with ample cushioning. A shoe can have too much cushioning and not enough support, flexibility, or traction. Support, flexibility, and traction are essential safety features to consider as you are looking for the best-cushioned shoes, because the primary purpose of a shoe is to protect your feet and unsupportive, inflexible shoes with poor traction can cause injury related to falls and poor shock-absorption properties.

 

Why You Need Cushioned Shoes

Cushioned shoes provide essential protection for your feet. The cushioning layers add more protection between your foot and the outside world, which prevents injury from stepping on a rock or other hard or sharp object. The primary purpose of cushioning, however, is to absorb and disperse shock. If you were to take your fist and punch a concrete wall with all your body weight behind the punch, at best you would have bloodied knuckles and at worst broken knuckles. Now imagine pounding your bare feet on concrete. A thin sole provides some protection but added cushioning in the midsole and insole areas can prevent even more damage to your vulnerable feet.

When you walk or run, you are exerting more than just your bodyweight on your foot. The force of gravity is also pulling you down towards the ground while the ground presses back up against your foot when it strikes. These forces increase the impact and shock generated by your body and the ground on your feet.

  • Pronation and Supination

Pronation is the natural inward rolling of your feet as you roll your foot on the ground from your heel to your toe. Supination is the natural outward rolling of your feet as you push off the ground and bring your foot back around so that the heel is properly positioned so that it can strike the ground at the right angle to pronate again.

Unfortunately, many people have abnormal pronation and supination. It can be over or underpronation and hypo- or hypersupination. Overpronation and hyposupination occur when your foot rolls inward too much and doesn’t roll outward enough, which adds pressure and strain to your feet, ankles, and legs. Underpronation and hypersupination occur when your foot doesn’t roll inward enough and rolls outward too much, which adds pressure and discomfort to your feet, ankles, and legs on the other side of your foot.

Pronation and supination problems can result in more than just pain and discomfort – they can also cause medical conditions such as plantar fasciitis.

  • Medical Conditions

Medical conditions arising from pronation and supination problems – or other foot, ankle, or leg medical conditions due to injuries, falls, or accidents – can be more than just uncomfortable. Some of these conditions require surgery to correct! Examples of medical conditions arising from pronation and supination problems include plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, and arthritis, as well as many others.

  • The Impact of Cushioning on Pronation and Supination Problems

Generally speaking, pronation and supination problems require more support, but cushioning placed in the right areas can provide that support, especially if it is a supportive midsole foam wedge beneath the arch or in the heel. Cushioning also absorbs shock and disperses it so that it doesn’t all hit the bottom of your foot at once and then travel up your ankle and leg to your lower back! Just as people jarred in a car accident would be injured, your foot, ankle, leg, and back can be injured by the painful jarring associated with heavy steps, prolonged walking, or hard running. As such, cushioning can reduce and help you manage the results of pronation and supination problems while more supportive features can correct the problems themselves.

girl-in-pink-running-sport-shoes-picjumbo-com

Environment

The environment that you are walking, running or working in matters when you are considering what kind of cushioned shoe would be best for your current situation. Not all situations call for running or athletic shoes. Some situations, such as working in an office, going for a casual walk, or taking a trip, would require less cushioning than running and other athletic pursuits. So be sure to consider where you intend to be wearing the cushioned shoes that you need to buy before you make a selection. Some work environments allow only closed-toe dress shoes due to safety concerns while others allow sneakers and athletic shoes and others allow open-toed shoes.

 

Types of Cushioning

Cushioning in shoes can take many forms. Generally, it’s a type of foam or a type of gel, but these aren’t the only forms cushioning can take. Cushioning can also be found in the outsole material when the material used can absorb shock and disperse it properly so that the force from each footstrike doesn’t painfully jar your feet.

  • Foam Cushioning – There are many different types of foam cushioning out there. They are all great for shock-absorption, but some are better than others. Some commonly used examples of foam cushioning include memory foam, polyurethane (PU), and ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA).
  • Gel Cushioning – Instead of foams, some manufacturers use gel cushioning. Usually, gel cushioning doesn’t take up the entire length of the foot but is rather used in specific areas to add cushioning in high-impact areas. Such high-impact areas include the rearfoot and forefoot areas.
  • Hybrid Cushioning – Some manufacturers use combinations of more than one type of foam cushioning in the insole or midsole, to maximize the cushioning potential of both materials. However, others use gel-infused foam compounds that combine the best foam and gel materials to provide excellent shock-absorption and cushioning.
  • Rubber – Rubber can be firm, but with modifications, it can be flexible enough to absorb shock very well. Rubber provides protection and shock-absorption to a shoe, making it a commonly used material in shoes of all types.

Cushioned Regions

Cushioning can be found in four regions of the shoe: the upper, insole, midsole, and outsole regions of the shoe. While insoles are commonly associated with cushioning and comfort, midsoles as cushioning units are less well-known and outsoles are generally not associated with cushioning.

  • Padded Upper – Padding in the upper can absorb shock from bumps and scrapes, acting as a protective barrier between the top of your foot and the outside world. Padding in the upper can come as padded linings, padded tongues, and padded collars. Shoes without this small layer of protection between your foot and the firm outside of a leather shoe, for example, would be abrasive and could cut into your Achilles tendons or your feet!
  • Insole – Insoles are the location where most cushioning is expected to be found. Insole cushioning can come as foam footbeds, heel pads, cushioned forefoot regions, and others. Generally, most shoes use foam insoles and insole pieces, but sometimes manufacturers use gel compounds and components.
  • Midsole – Midsole foams and gel cushions are the real secrets behind a comfortable, well-cushioned shoe. This is the area of the shoe that has the most effective cushioning components. To increase the longevity of the midsole foam and gel units, manufacturers wedge the midsole between the insole and outsole. The insole is exposed to your foot more and can wear down more quickly. The outsole, naturally, is on the outside and is the part that always hits the ground and wears down more quickly. As such, the midsole is where manufacturers put their best cushioning technologies.
  • Outsole – The outsole, as previously stated, is not commonly associated with cushioning. The outsole is the first line of defense between your foot and the outside world. It protects your foot from rocks, abrasive surfaces, thorns, and many other such threats to your feet, but it also protects your foot from shock! Rubber and synthetic materials are the most commonly used materials in the outsoles of the best-cushioned shoes. They easily absorb and disperse shock!

Flexibility

Flexibility is important in a shoe for a number of reasons. It improves the comfort of your feet by allowing the shoe to move with your foot for a good fit and to reduce painful rubbing of your foot against the shoe. Flexibility also contributes to shock-absorption. Flexible shoe materials disperse and absorb shock to prevent that shock from jarring your ankles, legs, and back. Flexible materials also prevent shock arising from your foot pounding against the shoe. Flexible materials can be synthetic or textile and can be found everywhere in the shoe from the upper to the outsole.

  • Mesh Uppers – Many of the shoes on this list don’t have mesh uppers, but some do. Mesh uppers have many benefits, but flexibility is one of the most important of them. Meshes act like nets which can be stretched and pulled in different directions to allow movement. Sometimes mesh uppers come with synthetic or leather overlays to provide some upper support, as meshes are so flexible that they don’t offer any support on their own.
  • Midsole – The midsole of a shoe can sometimes consist of more than one layer or more than one component. Midsole materials are almost always flexible, as they need to be to keep from counteracting the flexibility features of the rest of the shoe. Some, however, are optimized for flexibility, so do some research into the shoe you are considering purchasing to see what kind of flexibility features the midsole contains.
  • Flex Grooves – An overly firm or a solid piece of rubber or synthetic material used in an outsole isn’t usually especially flexible, which inhibits the material’s natural shock-absorbing and cushioning properties. As such, shoe manufacturers cut grooves and lugs into the bottom of your shoe to promote flexibility and traction.

 

Support

Support is an important aspect of a shoe that needs to be considered, even though support doesn’t contribute that much to shock-absorption. However, it does contribute to your shoe’s shock-absorbing capability. It just isn’t quite as important as cushioning and flexibility.

  • How Support Contributes to Shock-Absorption

Everyone needs at least a little support. Without the right amount of support, someone could easily roll an ankle or their foot, which would result in injury. However, support also reduces the shock generated by each footstrike, as it corrects pronation and supination problems and promotes normal foot motion. Support features include foam wedges beneath the arch, heel, midfoot, and full-foot TPU shanks, and supportive overlays. Over and underpronation put more strain and stress on your feet and reduces the natural ability of your feet to absorb injury and pain-inducing shock.

 

Value

Ultimately, the cost-effectiveness of the shoe, or it’s overall value, depends mainly on cushioning, flexibility, and support, but also relies on their durability, convenience, ease of use, maintenance, and their actual price.

  • Durability

You want and need a shoe that won’t fall apart right away. A shoe that wears down too quickly cannot protect your feet from injury and cannot properly absorb shock. Every region of the shoe needs to be durable from the upper to the outsole. Fortunately, manufacturers have come up with ways to increase the longevity and durability of their shoes by creating high abrasion compounds and interlocking units in the outsole. They have also come up with special foam and other cushioning compounds that last longer than many early foams used in shoes. Always check the reviews and the technologies used in the shoe you are looking to buy to confirm that the shoe is durable and won’t fall apart in a week or two.

  • Convenience and Ease of Use

Many of the shoes on this list are slip-on shoes while others are lace-up or hook-and-loop shoes. The slip-on shoes are the most convenient, as you can just slip them on and go, but the lace-up and hook-and-loop shoes also have convenience features, such as pull tabs, velcro straps, and heel loops to make it easier to pull the shoe on and secure them with a proper fit.

  • Maintenance

A time-consuming maintenance routine is inconvenient and can really devalue any product. We live fast, busy lives and we often barely have time for everyday activities, let alone have the time to treat and re-treat and clean, polish, and dry shoes every time you wear them somewhere. So, look for shoes that are easier to maintain and clean. Shoes that are easier to maintain and clean are also less expensive over time, as they don’t require a lot of materials to maintain them.

  • Cost

The actual price of a shoe matters, too. The best-cushioned shoes don’t have to cost a lot of money! Most of them can be found for a very reasonable price, so always shop around if it looks like the shoe you have decided on is going to cost you an unreasonable amount. Someone, somewhere, will probably be selling it for less!

Additional Considerations

Cushioning, flexibility, support, and value are the most important features of a shoe to consider, but there are other details you should think about before you make your final decision about which cushioned shoe you want to purchase for yourself.

  • Traction

A slick bottom or outsole with thin, narrow grooves is a safety hazard. You need to consider the type of outsole material and the tread and lug patterns before you make a purchase. For traction, the best materials are rubber and synthetic materials. Always avoid crepe and leather outsoles in a cushioned shoe unless you won’t be walking or running around in them much or the environment you are in won’t be slippery at all.

  • Temperature Management

No one wants stinky feet, but sometimes this is unavoidable. What is avoidable, however, is stinky shoes. Temperature management features can reduce the development of odors while also keeping your feet cool and dry. Odors in shoes develop when microbes and bacteria start to grow. Shoes are oftentimes the best possible home for these microbes and bacteria because the inside of a shoe can be hot, dark, and damp. Temperature management features in shoes often include breathable mesh uppers, moisture-wicking insoles and linings, and ventilating perforations in the upper of the shoe. These features allow airflow and pull moisture away from the foot to keep it dry and cool. If you have cool, dry feet, you’ll have cooler, drier shoes. An additional benefit to temperature management features is a reduction of the occurrence of blisters, as dry feet are less likely to develop blisters.

  • Your Medical Conditions

Before you invest in a new pair of shoes, you need to consider your own health and medical conditions. Oftentimes, people with specific medical conditions, such as diabetes, need special shoes to help protect their feet. If you have chronic back, hip, or foot pain, then it would be to your benefit to investing in a more supportive shoe. Supportive shoes can also have plenty of cushioning!

  • Your Pronation and Supination

Knowing whether or not you over or underpronate is essential to choosing a good shoe that will be comfortable for you in any environment. A shoe that has the most cushioning and padding available can still fail to absorb shock and result in pain and discomfort if they do not support your feet and arches properly to correct any pronation and supination problems. To determine whether or not you have a pronation or supination problem, find an old pair of your shoes that are well-worn. Look at the bottom of your shoe.

  • Is there more wear on the arch side of your shoe?
  • Is there more wear on the outer side of your shoe?
  • Is the wear spread out evenly?

If there is more wear on the arch side of your shoe, then you likely overpronate. You probably need to invest in shoes that correct overpronation problems. If there is more wear on the outer side of your shoe’s outsole, then you likely underpronate. This means you probably need to invest in shoes that correct underpronation problems. If the wear is spread out evenly across the outsole of your shoe, then you probably have normal pronation, which means shoes which aren’t designed for pronation problems will be fine for you and your needs.
However, there are some cases when these guidelines may not apply. If wearing certain shoes causes you pain and it’s not from the shoe being too tight or narrow or from it not offering enough cushioning, then you could benefit from a visit to a podiatrist or your general physician to assess your gait for pronation and supination problems.

  • Your Shock-Absorption Needs

Finally, before you make your final decision and invest in your new pair of cushioned shoes, you need to consider your specific shock-absorption needs. These needs will vary from person to person and not everyone will be comfortable in every type of shoe. Your gait and pronation problems are the first thing to consider, as pronation and supination problems can reduce the effectiveness of your foot and shoes to absorb shock. You also need to consider how heavy your average step is. Not everyone walks lightly by default. Some people stomp around naturally. You need more cushioning if you have a heavier step. If your footstrikes are too heavy, though, you might still injure yourself even if you have ample cushioning, so it’s worth considering lightening your step to reduce the force generated by your footstrikes.
Similarly, the speed you will be traveling in will also matter. If you will be walking around or standing around all day, you need a different amount of cushioning than someone who is going to be running long distances, because the force generated by walking or standing is less than the force generated by running. That doesn’t mean that an uncushioned shoe would be comfortable if you were going to be walking or standing, especially if it would be for a long period of time, but you would need less cushioning if you are walking or standing.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q: Where can I find a good shoe that is well-cushioned?
A: You can find a good shoe that is well-cushioned at any shoe retailer and online. Always be sure to check the sizing and determine if the shoe has consistent or inconsistent sizing and if the shoe is true to size if you are going to be ordering online. If you are purchasing in person, always try the shoe on and walk around in it a little bit to confirm that it has the right cushioning and support in the right places for you and your feet.

Q: Can I use my cushioned shoes for athletic activities?
A: It depends on the type of cushioned shoe. I wouldn’t recommend using a cushioned dress shoe, sandal, or loafer for athletic activities, but a running or other athletic shoe would be fine for athletics. Casual sneakers could also suffice for low-energy, casual physical activity such as a light jog or casual game. However, you should invest in shoes specific to the athletic activity in question if it’s something that is high-energy or professional or competitive game.

Q: What outsole materials should I avoid if I want a shoe that has ample cushioning?
A: Leather and crepe are the worst outsole materials because they provide very little cushioning and shock-absorption. However, you should also consider the patterns and depths of the grooves in the outsole regardless of what kind of material the shoe’s outsole is made of. Narrow and shallow grooves provide very little traction, which can result in a slip and fall. Narrow and shallow grooves also reduce the flexibility of the sole. If the rubber or synthetic outsole is too thin or inflexible, then they will still be ineffective at absorbing shock.

 

Sources

  1. Footsmart, Pronation
  2. Presented by Klekt, Everything You Need to Know About Sneaker Cushioning: A Definitive Guide, March 15, 2016
  3. WikiHow, How to Tell if You Pronate, October 21, 2016
  4. Complex, The Complete History of Cushioning Technology in Sneakers, December 11, 2012
  5. The Podiatry Center, P.C., The Importance of Proper Foot Support


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