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Best Running Shoes For Bad Knees in 2022

Bad knees can ruin a lot of activities. Unlike an arm or shoulder, you can’t just stop using your knees for a few days if you have pain in them. The knee joints take a lot of strain as they support the whole upper body, every day, every single step we take.

Your best bet to protect and support bad knees is to buy yourself new footwear. The best running shoes for bad knees won’t necessarily fix the knee problems you have. But they can help to reduce impact and pressure on the joints that could make the pain worse or increase damage.

Our first choice is the ASICS Gel-Nimbus 23, as it has excellent cushioning, uses a Trusstic™ device to provide support and is designed to be gender-specific so you can get a better fit.

Read all ten reviews to find the shoe that suits you best, and you may be able to improve your running performance and reduce knee pain at the same time.

Top 3 Best and Favorite

 

ASICS Gel-Nimbus 23

 

  • Flytefoam Midsole Technology
  • Rearfoot Gel
  • Trusstic device
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Brooks Glycerin 19

 

  • 3D fit print upper
  • Omega Flex Grooves
  • Plush interior liner
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Saucony Hurricane 23

 

  • TPU guidance frame
  • PWRRUN+ cushioned midsole
  • Structured upper
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Best Overall

1. ASICS Gel-Nimbus 23

The ASICS Gel-Nimbus 23 offers an excellent mix of support and comfortable cushioning to ease pain and discomfort in bad knees.

In the midsole, Flytefoam technology is light underfoot so your knees won’t be taking extra strain by needing to lift heavy shoes on your feet. ASICS’ Propel technology is integrated into one layer of foam and makes the shoe springy and responsive. A second layer is soft and comfortable, right under the foot.

Sandwiched between the foam layers is their Rearfoot Gel® cushioning. This is a section of impact-absorbing gel under the heel, which makes a big difference to the knees. By absorbing more of the shock that comes with every footfall, the knees are less jarred which results in less pain at the end of the day.

A Trusstic device in the midsole is a reinforcing stability measure. It’s a hard layer made from resin that’s included specifically to keep the shoe from twisting or flexing in ways that could compromise the stability of the foot.

These shoes are also gender-specific, and use 3D Space Construction technology to create a fitting shoe shape, size, fit, and design for men and for women.

Some may find that the toe box is slightly narrow which can hurt their toes, so they may have to order a size up.

PROS:

  • Flytefoam Midsole Technology
  • Rearfoot Gel
  • Gender-specific 3D Space Construction technology
  • Trusstic device

CONS:

  • Some people may find the shoe to be narrow in the toe box and may have to go up a size

Best Neutral

2. Brooks Glycerin 19

Most runners have a neutral foot—which means they don’t overpronate or underpronate. Their feet stay straight and don’t fall over to either side when making contact with the ground.

We recommend the Brooks Glycerin for neutral runners. You won’t need a stability shoe, and the Glycerin offers less support and stability than others. It does feature a 3D print upper which will add a bit of support externally.

The cushioning is at Brooks’ maximum level. It’s a full-length midsole made from their DNA LOFT foam, which offers softness without sacrificing energy return. A 10mm heel-to-toe drop makes the move from heel strike to toe-off an easier one. This is helped by Flex Grooves in the sole, which assists the foot to move effortlessly from heel to toe.

All of these features help to reduce strain on the knee as you run. The only possible negative is that some runners may find that the heel counter rubs against their Achilles tendon, causing pain and discomfort.

PROS:

  • Full-length DNA LOFT midsole
  • 3D fit print upper
  • Omega Flex Grooves
  • Plush interior liner

CONS:

  • The heel counter may chafe the Achilles

Best Stability

3. Saucony Hurricane 23

Bad knees can be aggravated or even caused by overpronation, which is when the feet fall inwards, collapsing into the arch. This unnatural position of the feet takes a toll on the ankle joint, which in turn puts the knee joint out of alignment.

If you haven’t been using a stability shoe, simply switching to one may reduce many of your knee problems! This is a stability shoe that is made to counteract overpronation and offer a high level of support to the feet and legs.

The first step in the stability technology is the TPU guidance frame, which is part of the upper and contributes to a locked-in feel which keeps the foot as still as possible.

PWRRUN+ cushioned midsoles absorb shock with every step so your knees can get a break. It’s also got good energy return so it can help to push you forward without the knee needing to take over.

Some runners may find this shoe to be slightly heavy, at 11.4 ounces.

PROS:

  • TPU guidance frame
  • PWRRUN+ cushioned midsole
  • Structured upper
  • XT-900 Carbon Rubber outsole

CONS:

  • Some people may find the shoe to be a bit heavy

Best for Flat Feet

4. ASICS Gel-Kayano 27

The Gel-Kayano 27 is a stability shoe. It’s an excellent choice for runners who overpronate or those with neutral feet. It incorporates some innovative technology to help support the feet, all of which also help with bad knees.

Dynamic Duomax® technology is their pronation-countering technology. Space Trusstic technology reduces weight and provides a smoother heel-to-toe transition while keeping the foot stable.

As well as the stability features, the cushioning on the Gel-Kayano 27 is the big feature and goes a long way towards reducing pain in bad knees. FlyteFoam® midsole technology uses organic fibers that don’t pack down easily, and it’s incredibly responsive.

The rearfoot and forefoot GEL® technology adds extra cushioning that does wonders for absorbing impact. Your knee shouldn’t hurt on the heel strike, and the push-off should be much more efficient.

PROS:

  • Dynamic Duomax technology
  • Space Trusstic technology
  • FlyteFoam Midsole Technology
  • Rearfoot and Forefoot GEL Technology

CONS:

  • Some people may find that the toe box creases and creates a pressure point on the big toe

Most Cushioned

5. Hoka One One Bondi 7

The Hoka One One Bondi 7 is very plush, and if you suffer from bad knees, you would benefit from having a pair of them on your feet. The molded EVA midsole runs the full length of the shoe, and you can see by the size of the sole that these shoes are cushioned!

The Bondi 7 is Hoka’s most cushioned road running shoe, and even your ankle is cushioned by the memory foam collar.

Having such a cushioned shoe is an excellent idea if you have bad knees. The cushion absorbs much of the impact of landing, preventing any vibrations traveling up towards the knee.

An early-stage meta-rocker helps too and disperses impact from the heel to the toe effortlessly so you end up moving faster through the foot transition.

There’s some support too, with an internal heel count for rearfoot and TPU overlays on the upper.

PROS:

  • Full-length compression-molded EVA midsole
  • Early-stage Meta-Rocker
  • Memory foam collar
  • Internal heel counter

CONS:

  • Some people may find that the tongue is too thick and that it creates a hotspot in the shoe

Most Comfortable

6. New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11

Comfort can play a large part in shoes, especially if you do a lot of running. The New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11 is wider than average, so it provides a good platform for stability.

Underfoot, a Fresh Foam midsole runs the length of the shoe. You can see the thickness of the cushioning just by looking at the shoe. It’s spring but also just firm enough to deliver firm support.

There’s a removable foam insole that provides an extra bit of cushion, but you can take it out if you feel the cushion is too soft or if you want to add your own orthotic.

The 3D heel with Ultra Heel technology hugs the back of your heel, which some may find uncomfortable as it’s quite low down the heel.

It’s also easy to see the rocker-like design of the shoe, which assists in propelling you forward with every step, requiring little effort or strain from you.

PROS:

  • Full-length Fresh Foam X midsole
  • 3D heel
  • Hypoknit upper
  • Removable foam insole

CONS:

  • Some may not be comfortable with the fit of the heel as it supports your heel lower down

Best With A Wide Toe Box

7. Altra Provision 5

Altra shoes are known for their wide toe boxes. The Altra Provision 5 would be an excellent choice for those who need a wider toe box in order to run comfortably and reduce the pressure on their knees.

Their InnovArch technology supports you where you need it most with a layer of mesh around the midfoot, while GuideRail technology ensures that your foot remains in its natural gait.

They’re zero drop, so you’ll be running more flat-footed. Their cushioning is one of the best around, ultra-plush and you’ll be thankful for it on your long runs.

PROS:

  • InnovArch technology
  • GuideRail technology
  • Contoured insole
  • Improved heel

CONS:

  • Some may feel that the cushion doesn’t have quite enough firmness

Most Durable

8. Mizuno Wave Sky 4

The Mizuno Wave Plate technology makes these shoes great for runners with bad knees. It delivers spunky energy return but also offers a very stable platform. Their U4icX midsole has XPOP polyurethane foam that bounces back with gusto and keeps you going faster for longer.

The WaveKnit upper is breathable and comfortable, with a sock-like fit. One of the things that makes this shoe very durable is the X10 carbon rubber outsole. It’s long-lasting and deals well with abrasion, so your shoes should be able to handle any terrain and come away unscathed.

PROS:

  • Mizuno Wave Plate technology
  • U4icX Strobel Lasting Board
  • U4icX and XPOP polyurethane foam
  • WaveKnit upper

CONS:

  • Some people may feel like their heel is slipping

Best for Long Runs

9. Saucony Triumph 18

If you’re a distance runner or simply enjoy being out in the fresh air for hours on end, you need a shoe with premium cushioning that’s going to last. The Saucony Triumph 18 is our best choice.

The PWRRUN+ cushioning is long-lasting and gives you a spring in your step. For more cushioning, keep the foam insole in the shoe, or take it out if you want less cushion or your own insole.

The new TriFlex design helps you to transition quickly from heel to toe. The combination of impressive cushion and tight-but-comfortable Formfit makes these shoes both supportive and soft and springy.

Some may feel that the tongue is too padded. This could create airflow problems.

PROS:

  • Formfit design
  • PWRRUN+ cushioning
  • Removable foam insole
  • New midsole geometry

CONS:

  • Some people may find that the tongue is too thick and that it’s not breathable

Best Trail Shoe

10. Hoka One One Challenger ATR 5

Trail running can be even harder on the knees due to the uneven terrain and unstable movement. The Hoka One One Challenger is designed to provide superior cushioning and support to runners who need extra support when they’re on the trail.

They feature a CMEVA foam midsole that’s lightweight but has targeted absorption at the points with the highest impact. A built-in early stage meta-rocker keeps the feet moving and makes it easy to transition from heel strike to toe-off.

A dual-layer mesh upper and internal heel counter keep the shoe stable and snug on your foot, no matter what terrain you’re on. The toe box may run slightly narrow, so double-check before buying.

PROS:

  • CMEVA foam midsole
  • Early-stage Meta-Rocker
  • Dual-layer mesh upper
  • Internal heel counter

CONS:

  • Some people may find the toe box to be too narrow

FAQs

What to look for in a running shoe for bad knees?

When looking for a running shoe for bad knees, try to get a shoe that has a good mixture of support and cushioning. Both of these are protective, and protecting your knee and keeping it properly aligned is crucial.

How Cushioning Works

The point of cushioning in a sporting shoe is to absorb shock as you make contact with the ground, and by that, relieve pressure on the body.

It also adds to the comfort factor. Some runners like firmer cushion, and others like soft cushion. It depends on you as to what works best for you.

How can I reduce knee pain while running?

It can be difficult to pinpoint what you’re doing that’s causing heel pain when you run. But try some of these ideas. If one doesn’t work, move onto the next.

  • Get out of the habit of heel striking.
  • Try not to lift your knees too much when running
  • Lean slightly forward
  • Don’t straighten your legs
  • Aim your feet in the direction you’re running