Review: The Asics Gel Kayano is a top of the line option for pronators due to its arch support, cushioning and shock absorption, all of which alleviate knee pain.
The excellent arch support will also aid in resolving alignment issues that can result in ITB stress and consequent knee and hip pain. The Kayano uses Flytfoam Lyte and includes additional external heel support.
Perfect for long-distance running, these work-horses are comfortable, extremely supportive and likely the best running shoes for knee pain in 2021.
Midsole shock-absorbing technology.
Good arch support.
Wide toe box.
Good heel fit.
Like most Asics, likely to be on the narrow side through the midfoot.
These are easily the best Asics running shoes for bad knees, and due to their superior arch support, likely to be the best running shoes for knee and hip pain.
Review: Saucony’s Triumph 17 is a very highly rated, impressively lightweight and springy shoe while also being really well cushioned. It literally doesn’t get much better than this in the world of running shoes.
Its cushioning system has been completely updated in this latest version of the shoe, with PWRRUN+ replacing Everun.
The upper has also been redesigned with FormFit technology that makes for a snug-fitting and extremely comfortable shoe.
Well suited to high arches.
8mm drop encourages forefoot striking.
Breathable and flexible.
Good for long distances.
Lightweight but well cushioned.
These are some more of the best women’s running shoes for bad knees.
With its neutral stability, 8mm drop and formidable cushioning, the Saucony Triumph 17 is a great option for remedying knee pain while transitioning towards a more natural running style.
Review: Another reliable Asics shoe that will stand you in good stead if you’re experiencing any pain during or after running, the Gel Venture 7 is a popular choice for remedying knee and ankle pain due to its balance of stability and cushioning.
It is a trail shoe so a great choice for countering joint issues and still getting offroad, providing the support to have you jumping boulders and dodging puddles injury-free.
Dual form of ankle support.
Great for trail running.
On the heavy side compared to some other shoes on this list.
As always with Asics’s reliable stability, these are likely to be the best running shoes for knee and ankle support.
Review: The Hoka One One Clifton 4 is a highly cushioned, neutral shoe while being lightweight and providing moderate stability.
These shoes are comfortable from day 1 and don’t require a break-in period, making them perfect for recovering from injuries such as runner’s knee and shin splints.
What is impressive about the Clifton 4 is that in updating the cushioning to enhance longevity, the shoes are now also highly responsive giving an energetic feel that will help you to stay springy in the latter miles of your long runs.
Highly cushioned so fantastic for shin splints.
Wide toe box.
Not the most flexible but this could be an advantage in terms of stability.
These are the best running shoes for shin splints and knee pain owing to their incredible cushioning and yet light weight stability.
Review: The Brooks Ghost 12 is a very popular shoe which deserves its popularity owing to its versatile qualities such as fantastic cushioning and yet, reasonably fast, responsive feel.
It is a neutral shoe but still provides medium to high arch support, which together with its top of the line cushioning, makes it a great choice for knee pain sufferers.
The segmented crash pad in the midsole offers great shock absorbance, lessening the load on your knees. However, one of its top features is the high amount of energy return making it feel springy and light in each stride.
Full-length segmented crash pad.
Breathable mesh upper.
Great traction for a road shoe.
Heavier than other shoes on this list, but more cushioned as a result.
A fantastic shoe for those not requiring a high degree of motion control but still benefiting from some arch support along with excellent cushioning.
These are easily some of the best running sneakers for bad knees and likely to be some of the best running shoes for inner knee pain.
Review: This is Mizuno’s “go-to” shoe in its neutral line, with good cushioning while remaining lightweight. The cushioning being on the firmer side results in a faster, more responsive ride than more cushioned shoes but maintains enough cushioning to prevent excess knee impact.
Its highly breathable mesh upper makes it ideal for hot weather running though may make it a little breezy in colder weather.
Capable of handling mileage up to half marathon distances.
Cushioning may feel firm compared to other more pillowed shoes.
A reliable go-to shoe for neutral feet with moderate cushioning and lightweight, smooth ride.
Review: Saucony’s Cohesion 12 is a neutral, lightweight road running shoe that is moderately cushioned and affordable when compared to others on this list.
Its 12mm drop makes it a good choice for heel strikers with high arches. It provides basic stability and midsole cushioning within a breathable mesh upper. And, despite its affordability, it’s well suited to long distances.
Comfortable Versafoam cushioning.
Secure and well-cushioned heel.
Good traction in rubber outsole.
Good sized toe box.
None for its price.
An affordable, lightweight, comfortable running shoe that will resolve uncomplicated knee pain providing just enough support.
Review: Vibram’s latest FiveFinger barefoot road running shoes are designed for the road. They have a softer, more breathable upper than previous designs, they truly excel on the road and are especially great for long distances and high volume running.
They are also designed to be a comfortable shoe in more extreme temperatures, giving you a versatile option for barefoot running throughout the year.
The EVA foam midsole provides cushioning and responsiveness while being durable and lightweight. If barefoot running is something you are thinking about transitioning to remedy your knee pain, then these shoes are the best option for gradually introducing to your training regime.
Cushioned compared to other Vibram barefoot shoes.
More durable than previous models.
Extremely soft, comfortable upper material.
Easy to get on and off.
On the pricey side.
These are the best barefoot running shoes for road running, so if this is a route you’re wanting to take, the V-Runs are your best choice provided you transition slowly.
So, How Do You Choose the Right Running Shoes for Your Knee Pain?
First, You Need to Figure Out Why You Are Experiencing Knee Pain
Runner’s knee, or, patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) is, unfortunately, a common problem. It describes pain located in the vicinity of the knee cap and can result from a number of triggers.
Here are some common reasons:
Heel striking with inadequate cushioning.
Poor running form.
Lack of core strength.
Getting a muscle balance assessment and visiting a physiotherapist or podiatrist will help you to ascertain the causes of your knee pain.
Then it is important that you DO THE EXERCISES AND STRETCHES. (The number of people who visit a physio and then don’t follow their guidance is astounding!)
The Right Kind of Pain
It’s important to remember that a little bit of knee pain is normal when you start out running or suddenly increase mileage. It doesn’t always mean there’s a problem.
You’d expect to have sore arms after lifting a bunch of weights too, right?
Dull aching in your knees is a normal response to a sudden increase in the amount of impact that your knees are dealing with. Increasing mileage slowly is important, but this aching isn’t a reason to stop running or necessarily change your shoes.
However, sharp, stabbing pain that causes you to stop and hobble is not ok. Pain that persists long after you’ve stopped running is also not ok.
Don’t run through this kind of pain. Ignoring the pain will not make you a better runner. Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. You need to listen to it and figure out how to fix it.
Videos such as below can be a great aid in resolving your knee pain issues.
Exercises such as squats are also really important for making sure that all of the stabilizing muscles either side of your knee are nice and strong.
But, there’s a caveat here – you must be sure to keep your knees tracking straight over the middle of your foot while you squat.
If you let your knees wobble or bow inwards, you’re really not helping things!
Wearing a knee sleeve can also be a great rehabilitation aid. They can provide light compression and a little support in order to reduce the impact of running on the knee joint. Be sure to not become too dependent on them though!
If your knees are in really bad shape or you’re recovering from a serious injury or operation, you might consider looking for an alternative knee-friendly form of exercise for the time being.
Examples include ellipticals and recumbent bikes. Both use a wide range of leg muscles but don’t result in any of the impact-shock that running places on the knees.
Next, Choose the Best Running Shoes for Knee Pain
Here is where it gets interesting.
You have choices!
Do you want to take the ultra-supported route with maximum cushioning and custom inserts?
Or, would you like to take the au naturale approach and opt for minimal shoes, adjusting your running technique over time and working on building up your foot strength?
Both options have pros and cons and will depend on your running style, foot physiology and degree of pronation.
In order to cover all bases, the list above includes shoe recommendations for either journey.
Broadly speaking, as you go down this list and within each category, the degree of support and cushioning will decrease, and flexibility will increase.
Pronators will be better suited to shoes at the top of the list, supinators to those in the middle.
At the end of the list are some barefoot options which should be transitioned to gradually.
In general, the best running shoes for knee support are going to be the shoes that provide the right kind of support for your foot type and running style, together with plenty of cushioning.
But, unfortunately, it might not be as simple as just focusing on what’s best for your knees. If you have other conditions like plantar fasciitis or shin splints, you’ll be looking for a shoe that can handle both types of pain.
Most runners with painful knees benefit from shoes with good arch support and plenty of cushioning. Brooks Beast and Asics Kayano are good options.
Can Running Shoes Affect Your Knees?
Yes, definitely. If your shoes are allowing you to either over or under pronate, your knees will track out of alignment with your ankles and hips leading to pain.
Choosing the right kind of shoe for your pronation type is essential.
Does Arch Support Help Knee Pain?
If your knee pain is a result of overpronation then arch support is essential in preventing knee pain. Unless you take the very long and slow journey towards barefoot running that is!
How can I Run with Bad Knees?
This depends on what you mean by bad knees. If you have serious problems such as arthritis or wear and tear so bad that you have no cartilage left, then running might be off the cards.
But, for most people with painful knees, the solution is a simple as getting nicely cushioned and supportive shoes and building up the distance that you run really slowly, together with stretching and doing exercises such as squats.
How can I Make My Knees Stronger for Running?
A range of leg exercises that target all of the surrounding muscles are needed in order to support your knees.
Quad exercises are particularly important, making sure that all four quadriceps muscles are equally strong so that they aren’t pulling the knee out of alignment.
Is Treadmill Good for Knees?
Treadmills are designed with cushioning built into the running platform to reduce shock absorption.
This means they could be a lower impact way of slowly building your running up without putting as much stress on your knees.
The list above should provide a great starting point for choosing the best running shoes for bad knees in 2021.
Good luck and good running!
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Michael is a fitness expert and professional home/garage gym builder. His tutorials, guides, and reviews are backed up by his own experience and will definitely help you achieve your goals. He also loves putting mayo AND ketchup on the pizza for some reason!