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
- Reflective Hits
- Rubber Outsole
- Breathable Mesh
- Flex Grooves
- Saucony Cohesion 10
- Asics Gel Venture 5
- Skechers Energy Afterburn
- New Balance 990v4
- Brooks Glycerin 14
- Salomon Speedcross 4
- Asics Gel Nimbus 16
- Puma Tazon 6
- Hoka One One Bondi 5
- Mizuno Wave Rider 20
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Picks
1. Saucony Cohesion 10
- Reflective Hits
- Rubber Outsole
- Breathable Mesh
- Flex Grooves
- Narrow Fit
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!Read more
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.
Cost and Value
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!
2. Asics Gel Venture 5
- Gel Cushioning
- Removable Sockliner
- Rugged Outsole
- Neutral Color Selection
- AHAR Outsole
- Break-in Period
Performance-driven running shoes that are made with your foot and body in mind. Asics made sure to provide consistent comfort and style throughout the shoe. With a deep gel heel cup, and added features like a pull tab on the heel for easily taking them on and off, these running shoes are hard to beat.Read more
The perfect blend of cushion for absorbing impact, and giving you much needed arch support. Whether you are going for a light jog around your neighbourhood or participating in a marathon, you can rest assured that you will have no pain by the end of the day.
One of the biggest struggles when knee pain is a concern is finding a running shoe that has a proper insole. These not only already come with a well cushioned midsole, but give you the option to remove the sockliner; thus allowing you to insert your own medical orthotics for optimum comfort.
Cost and Value
One of the best values given the quality and care Asics put in to making these. With great features like a removable liner, and carefully crafted rubber outsoles for all terrains; these are one of the most versatile pairs of running shoes on the list.
3. Skechers Energy Afterburn
- Padded Tongue and Collar
- Padded Heel
- Cushioned Midsole
- Arch Support
- Classic Colors
- Run Large
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.Read more
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.
Lug Rubber Sole
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.
Cost and Value
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.
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.Read more
Support and Cushion
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.
Cost and Value
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. Brooks Glycerin 14
- Breathable Mesh
- Removable Foam Insole
- Soft Fabric Lining
- Reinforced Toe
- No Break-In Period
- Run Small
Offering excellent arch support, a plush and well cushioned midsole; with the option to remove and insert your own specialized medical orthotics and a flexible outside made to run long distances. These running shoes are ideal for anyone struggling with over-pronation of the feet. From classic to brighter and more outgoing colors, there is something for everyone.Read more
Highly Cushioned Midsole
The Super DNA midsole is unlike any other made by Brooks. It moulds to your feet while adapting to speed, and environment ensuring the perfect amount of shock absorption. The Caterpillar Crash Pad offers extra stability, and a custom-like feel by flexing with your foot.
For those suffering from knee pain it is so important to have a running shoe, that if not made with enough cushioning, at least gives you the option to insert your own insoles. Though this Brooks model gives you the option, it isn't likely you will need to given the already plus yet firm insole it has.
Cost and Value
Slightly more expensive, however the Brooks Glycerin 14 are not only made to last, but are made specifically for those needing extra support all around. The perfect option for anyone looking to add in their own insoles.
6. Salomon Speedcross 4
- Aggressive Grip
- Minimalistic Lace Up Detailing
- Water Resilient
- 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.Read more
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.
Cost and Value
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.
7. Asics Gel Nimbus 16
Heel Clutching System
Guidance Line Midsole
Another brand name in running sneakers and gear, Asics brings the Gel Nimbus 16 to the table packed with support, cushioning technology, and stability to promote proper gait. Made from textile and synthetic materials, it keeps a medium to a lighter weight than some sneakers and maintains breathability throughout. This pair of sneakers is sure to not only help you go the extra mile but pain-free while you do it.Read more
Although discontinued for updated models on their website, Asics Gel Nimbus 16 is still available through other sporting goods and online retailers. Fluidfit uppers help snugly fit the shoe to your foot without restriction, Gel technology gives ultimate comfort and cushion and runs throughout the entirety of the rear and forefoot areas. Guidance Line midsole technology with vertical flex grooves help to enhance your gait and efficiency.
A Heel Clutching system utilizes an exoskeletal counter in the heel to help snuggly secure the heel in place, minimizing slip, and making your ride more stable and enjoyable. The Plus 3 midsole is added for additional height and helps cushion and relieve any Achilles tension during your run. Top it all off with a snuggly fastening lace up system, and you’ll be lacing up every morning looking forward to your run!
Cost and Value
Slightly more expensive than some on our list, but comparable to the Hoka One One, the Asics Gel Nimbus 16 gives a smooth cushioned ride, an stability where you need it most when dealing with knee pain. Heel Clutching system allows for stability and takes some pressure off your joints doing the work, and with a plushly cushioned sole, it’s a smart buy.
8. Puma Tazon 6
- Midfoot Saddle
- Breathable Sockliner
- 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.Read more
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.
Cost and Value
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.
9. Hoka One One Bondi 5
Hoka One One is known for their rocker style design for running, helping to maximize the body’s natural gait cycle with minimal effort. The Bondi 5 keeps the Meta-Rocker tech we’ve come to love about Hoka One One, as well as some other stability and cushion features that your knees will love. Lightweight and breathable, it comes in a number of beautiful color options, and a grippy sole will supply traction during those wetter training runs.Read more
Every time we run, we each have a unique gait cycle, and some individuals pronate inward or outward, but for the most part, we strike with the midfoot and roll off onto the toes. The Meta-Rocker of the Hoka One One Bondi 5 helps to improve the gait cycle with an accurate roll from ground contact through forefoot and toe off. And with this design, minimal energy is needed to keep you moving, and less impact to the foot occurs with the rocker design.
Along with the EVA midsole that provides cushioned support, and Ortholite insole gives arch support and further cushioning for each step you take. More cushion means less stress and impact traveling to your knees! 3D Puff Print frame keeps the Bondi 5 lightweight, and a mesh upper gives it ample ventilation to keep you cool.
Cost and Value
Slightly more expensive than some on our list, it packs premium technology in cushioning and comfort into a rocker style shoe to promote gait cycle and less stress to your knees. Being lightweight, it cuts down on foot fatigue, helping you keep proper form during strides, and help you go a bit longer. A great investment for those looking to try something a little different!
10. Mizuno Wave Rider 20
- Removable Insole
- Breathable Fabric
- Rubber Sole
- Cloudwave Technology
- Durable Midsole Foam
Sizing Tends to be Off
Mizuno has come out with their 20th edition of the Wave Rider and its back, and ready to perform. Offering every possible feature it can to ensure great performance, comfort, and support. These running shoes will absorb impact like no other and provide you with the perfect amount of arch support.Read more
This feature in the heel of the shoe not only provides added support but evenly distributes impact to lessen the effect each step may have on the rest of your body, especially your knees. Added touches that help with impact are very important where foot and body health is a concern.
One of the most important features for some in a running shoe, especially those who suffer from knee pain, is the option to remove the insole. This option gives you the ability the insert your own medical orthotics to optimize comfort and stability. Regardless of how cushioned or comfortable the original insole is, many are in need of customized support, and not all running shoes allow for that.
Cost and Value
Considering all of the great features these running shoes are well-priced and an affordable option. For those looking to test out a new pair, but not necessarily spend a great amount of money “investing” in a pair of runners, these will do the trick.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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