Best Shock-Absorbing Shoes in 2021

The best shock-absorbing shoes are designed to reduce the amount of force that affects the joints of the foot when standing, walking, running, or jumping. Usually, the cushioning in the shoe is what offers excellent shock absorption.

Our top choice is the Hoka One One Bondi 7. It has a full-length EVA midsole with tons of cushioning, an Ortholite foam insole, and blown rubber on the outsole for even more shock absorption.

If your feet need some TLC but you still need to get your job done, try one of these pairs of shock-absorbing shoes.

Top 4 Best and Favorite

 

Hoka One One Bondi 7

 

  • Thick Ortholite foam insole
  • Beveled heel design
  • Blown rubber outsole
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Altra Torin 5

 

  • EGO Max foam
  • PU molded footbed
  • Spacious toe box
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SKECHERS Relaxed Fit – Eldred SR

 

  • Lightweight EVA midsole
  • Padded collar and tongue
  • Relaxed Fit design
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SKECHERS Work Relaxed Fit: Telfin – Sanphet SR

 

  • Memory Foam cushioned insole
  • Slip-resistant rubber outsole
  • Leather upper
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Best Overall

1. Hoka One One Bondi 7

Hoka One One is known for making highly cushioned shoes, and the Bondi 7 is the most cushioned one in their lineup.

Like all of Hoka One One’s shoes, the Bondi 7 features a thick slab of EVA foam in the midsole, highly effective at absorbing shock and providing tons of cushioning.

Even more shock-absorbency is added by the Ortholite insole. This provides both comfort and cushioning. The ankle collar and tongue are well-padded, which increases the shock-absorbing powers of this shoe.

The stack height is impressive on the Bondi 7. On the men’s shoe, there’s a heel height of 33 mm and a forefoot height of 29 mm. The women’s shoe has a heel height of 31 mm and a forefoot height of 27 mm.

Some users may feel that the high stack height makes the shoe unstable. But the wide base of the shoe provides extra stability and most wearers will get used to the stack height after wearing them a few times.

Another excellent feature of the Bondi 7 is the meta-rocker midsole. This helps to lessen fatigue in the foot muscles and joints.

Other features that are important include a breathable mesh upper, multiple small synthetic overlays for lateral stability, and a nicely sized toe box.

The shoe does have a very unique look – not everyone will be willing to wear such a funky-looking shoe.

PROS:

  • Thick Ortholite foam insole
  • Compression-molded EVA midsole
  • Beveled heel design
  • Blown rubber outsole

CONS:

  • Not everyone will appreciate these shoes’ unique styling

Top Runner-Up

2. Brooks Glycerin GTS 19

The Brooks Glycerin GTS 19 is technically a stability shoe. The neutral version of the shoe is the Glycerin—without the GTS—but the stability features on this shoe are so subtle that even individuals with a neutral foot would most likely find it to be comfortable.

The GTS version has built-in GuideRails, which are stiff plastic strips along the side of the foot just above the midsole. They run right underneath the sole, offering excellent lateral stability.

For cushioning, there’s a full-length piece of Loft foam in the midsole. It’s plush and absorbs shock effectively. It’s more responsive than the previous shoe, which makes it a better option for runners.

3D Fit Print technology in the double-layered jacquard mesh upper allows for some stretch and the internal bootie conforms to the foot for support. This version features larger perforations to help keep your feet cool.

They may run small, so double-check the sizing charts before buying.

PROS:

  • Dual-layered jacquard mesh upper
  • Full-length DNA Loft foam
  • Built-in GuideRails support
  • Dual rubber outsole

CONS:

  • These shoes run small

Best Wide Toe Box

3. Altra Torin 5

If you’re looking for a shoe that has both excellent shock-absorbing cushioning and a comfortably wide toe box, the Altra Torin would be a good choice.

The Torin is a maximum-cushioned shoe with a zero drop, meaning your foot is flat parallel to the ground. Some people may find the zero drop uncomfortable or take a while to break it in.

EGO Max foam in the midsole is both soft enough to absorb shock but responsive enough to offer some energy return while walking. Extra cushioning by the thick, 5 mm footbed.

Also, InnerFlex technology in the midsole uses a series of grooves for flexibility without compromising stability and shock absorption of the shoe.

For comfort, the shoe uses a unique FootShape toe box that allows the toes to splay naturally. FootPod outsole technology is designed to mirror the tendons and bones of the foot for a more natural range of motion.

The engineered knit mesh upper is also breathable and flexible for the highest comfort. There’s good padding around the ankle collar, which helps to provide a comfortable fit, keep the heel in place and absorb shock.

The tongue of the shoe is unusually thin and some people may find this to be uncomfortable and inflexible.

PROS:

  • EGO Max foam
  • PU molded footbed
  • Spacious toe box
  • FootPod outsole technology

CONS:

  • Some people may find the tongue to be a bit too stiff

Top Value

4. SKECHERS Sanphet SR (men’s)

5. SKECHERS Eldred SR (women’s)

Those looking for a high-quality but more affordable shoe should consider Skechers. We recommend the Sanphet SR for men and the Eldred SR for women. These shoes are very similar.

Both feature a leather upper, which is durable and supportive. The men’s shoe has an option for a leather and mesh upper, and the women’s has a mesh ankle collar for ventilation.

To absorb shock, these shoes feature a lightweight midsole made of EVA foam, as well as a Memory Foam insole, which can be removed if you need to insert a custom orthotic.

Both also feature a Relaxed Fit design so the upper moves with your foot comfortably.
A padded collar and tongue for comfort and even more shock absorption. They both have a slip-resistant outsole and the men’s shoe is certified Electrical Hazard (EH) Safe.

They may run slightly small and you may need to order a size bigger.

PROS:

  • Lightweight EVA midsole
  • Memory Foam cushioned insole
  • Padded collar and tongue
  • Slip-resistant rubber outsole

CONS:

  • These shoes may run slightly small and you may need to order a size bigger

Best For Walking

6. New Balance 928v3

The New Balance 928v3 is a dedicated walking shoe.

The upper is made from leather and mesh for a good combination of support and breathability. A soft inner lining makes the step-in feel plush while resisting odor-causing bacteria.

In the midsole, EVA foam absorbs shock effectively. ABZORB cushioning technology in the forefoot and midfoot provides an extra layer of protection on every footstrike.

In the heel, there’s a ROLLBAR for support. This is a motion control system consisting of a TPU plate under the foot that reduces lateral movement of the rearfoot.

The sole also has a slight rocker shape, which helps with shock-absorbing as it transfers energy from heel to toe quickly. Also on the outsole is Ndurance rubber with a textured traction pattern, which allows you to stay stable on your feet on many surfaces.

Walking Strike Path technology on the outsole uses an off-center guidance line down the outsole, which helps to guide the foot through the heel-to-toe gait cycle.

Some users have found the tongue of the show to be short and narrow, which could be uncomfortable.

PROS:

  • ABZORB cushioning technology
  • Walking Strike Path technology
  • ROLLBAR technology posting system
  • Rubber outsole

CONS:

  • Some people may find the tongue to be short

Top Lightweight

7. New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon v3

Often, lightweight shoes sacrifice cushioning in order to shed weight. However, the New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon v3 offers exceptional cushioning while remaining very light, at just 8 ounces.

Semi-transparent mesh in the upper is also light and allows for excellent ventilation. Synthetic overlays provide mild extra support. The fabric lining is also highly breathable, making this shoe ideal for summer runs.

A Fresh Foam X midsole offers impressive cushioning for such a light shoe and has a 6 mm heel-to-toe drop. A molded foam insole adds extra cushioning.

The Ultra Heel design does a surprisingly good job of locking the heel down and preventing excess movement.

Underneath, the EVA midsole is exposed but features rubber pods in strategic places to increase durability and provide a little more impact absorption.

New Balance shoes are excellent for wide feet but those with narrow feet may find that the shoes feel too big in the midfoot.

PROS:

  • Semi-transparent mesh
  • Fresh Foam X midsole
  • Strategically-placed rubber pods
  • Ultra Heel design

CONS:

  • Those with narrow feet may find that these shoes feel too wide

Best Slip-On

8. Hoka One One Ora Recovery Shoe 2

This is a lightweight, slip-on shoe from Hoka One One weighs just 5.4 ounces so you’ll barely feel it on. But your joints will benefit from the plush midsole.

The midsole is dual-density, with a soft upper layer for comfort and a more firm layer underneath for support and impact absorption. An early-stage meta-rocker design also helps to disperse shock through the gait cycle.

The outsole is made up of the exposed foam of the midsole. It uses short lugs to provide traction on a variety of surfaces, but it may be less durable than others as there’s no rubber.

PROS:

  • Breathable mesh upper
  • Early-stage Meta-rocker
  • Collapsible compression mesh heel
  • Grippy rubber outsole

CONS:

  • Outsole is less durable than others due to the exposed foam

Top Work Shoe

9. Dansko Walker (men’s)

10. Dansko Franny (women’s)

It can be difficult to find shock-absorbing shoes that are also appropriate for the workplace.

The Dansko Walker for men and Franny for women both feature a leather upper that looks great in the office. The men’s shoes use a traditional lacing system while the women’s has a wide hook-and-loop strap.

They also both feature an EVA footbed that’s removable to make way for custom inserts. The polyurethane midsole offers cushioning and an impressive amount of shock absorption for a work shoe.

A leather sockliner in the men’s shoe wicks away moisture to keep your feet cool and dry.

In the women’s shoe, the lining is soft textile for comfort. Both feature a durable and grippy rubber outsole which adds another layer of impact absorption. They aren’t slip-resistant.

PROS:

  • Leather upper
  • Cushioned collar
  • PU midsole
  • Durable rubber outsole

CONS:

  • The outsoles aren’t slip-resistant

Best Summer Shoes

11. OOfos OOmg Low Shoe

These shoes are light and breathable and provide much-needed ventilation and comfort during hot summer months.

The 4-way stretch upper is comfortable and provides more support than a flip-flop or slide-type shoe would offer.

In the midsole, OOfoam technology cushions the foot and is said to absorb up to 37% more impact than other foams. Although the shoe is lightweight, the cushioning is effective for reducing jarring to the joints.

A patented footbed design offers good support for the arch. The rubber outsole offers another layer of impact absorption, as well as providing good traction.

This shoe has been approved by the APMA—American Podiatric Medical Association—as a shoe that promotes good foot health.

PROS:

  • OOfoam technology
  • Patented footbed design
  • 4-way stretch mesh upper
  • Rubber outsole

CONS:

  • The sizing may be inconsistent

Top For Hiking

12. Merrell Moab Speed Mid Gore-Tex

Individuals who enjoy hiking and need extra cushioning to protect their joints should consider the Merrell Moab Speed Mid Gore-Tex shoe.

For a hiking boot, these shoes are unusually lightweight, weighing just 12 ounces for the men’s and 11 ounces for the women’s.

The FloatPro Foam midsole is made from EVA foam and on top of that there’s a PU foam insole that adds to the comfort and shock-absorbing cushioning. The collar and tongue are also padded to provide extra impact absorption, and there’s also a protective toe cap that absorbs shock.

A Gore-Tex membrane underneath the mesh upper makes this shoe waterproof without compromising breathability, so you can hike through puddles and streams if necessary.

To protect the feet on harsh terrain, there’s a rock plate in the sole of the shoe. The Vibram Traction Lug outsole has light but grippy lugs and has a vertical flex groove for flexibility while on rough ground.

The mesh lining, laces, and parts of the midsole and rubber outsole are made from recycled materials.

PROS:

  • Mesh and TPU upper
  • FloatPro Foam midsole
  • Rock plate for protection
  • Vibram Traction Lug outsole

CONS:

  • The laces may need to be re-tied frequently

FAQs

What Are Shock-Absorbing Shoes?

Shock-absorbing shoes are designed to disperse and absorb the impact of shock when your foot makes contact with the ground.

Our feet have natural “shock-absorbing” fat pads, but when you’re running your body has to absorb a force that’s 3 to 4 times your own body weight.

The foot’s fat pad in the forefoot and heel can’t disperse that amount of force without some help. This is where the technology that goes into designing and manufacturing the shoe comes in.

The shoe’s midsole is designed to help cushion and protect the foot by reducing the amount of shock felt by the foot and the legs.

Both foam and EVA cushioning will work to reduce the force of impact without changing your natural gait cycle or losing stability while running or walking.

Benefits

Whether you’re walking or standing, your bones, joints, and muscles are being placed under strain. Shoes that are shock-absorbing help protect the feet, ankles, knees, hips, and back from jarring.

But the technology also helps prevent muscle and foot fatigue, which means you won’t have achy feet after a walk or run. The foam or EVA cushioning will allow you to comfortably enjoy those long walks or runs.

If you overpronate or have flat feet, there are shock-absorbing shoes with motion control features to provide support and prevent overpronation.

Features

There are a few things to look for when considering getting a pair of shoes to absorb shock.

The upper should be lightweight, supportive, and breathable with a spacious toe box. If you’re looking at getting an athletic shoe, then choose ones that have a breathable mesh upper with synthetic overlays, as these add to the structure and support of the shoe.

The midsole of the shoe will differ according to the type and brand of shoe. Shoes that can be worn in the office will more than likely have a polyurethane midsole with a removable foam insole, which will provide cushioning and reduce impact.

Athletic shoes are no different and the midsole could feature either memory foam, foam, gel, or EVA compound. They’ll also have additional cushioning in the heel and a plush footbed.

The outsole of the shoe should have a thick and durable rubber that doesn’t just reduce the impact, but also provides traction.

Make sure that the shoe provides adequate arch support for your foot shape. There should also be a deep heel cup, as this will provide more stability as you walk or run.

Different Types of Shock-Absorbing Shoes

There are a variety of shoes to choose from and most brands have their own proprietary foam materials.

New Balance, for example, has a variety of different foams in their range of shoes. One of the most popular foams is their ABZORB midsole foam, which is a mixed blend of rubber isoprene and proprietary foam materials.

Gel cushioning can be found in both Asics and Mizuno shoes, although both companies use them differently.

Mizuno has a gel wave plate in the midsole to reduce impact, while ASICS uses gel technology in the heel or forefoot. Some ASICS shoes feature gel cushioning technology in both the forefoot and heel.

Memory foam is on the softer side and isn’t often found in shoes designed for intense workouts or running. Memory foam is often found in shoes that you can wear in the office or for walking, such as Sketchers.

EVA cushioning is common and may make you feel as though you’re walking on clouds, as it protects your foot from shock.

EVA doesn’t flatten under large loads, but it does compress and then rebounds back to its original shape with every foot strike to help to reduce impact, keeping your feet and legs feeling fresh for longer.

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