The Best Running Shoes for Bad Knees in 2018
Knee pain can happen to anyone: the new runner who ran too much too soon. Or the marathon runner who trained too hard. It’s unfortunate, uncomfortable, and it can keep us from what we love doing the most – running! Thankfully, there are some great running shoes that can combat knee pain and help provide a better running experience.
There are a variety of causes for knee pain, and for most, you should get checked out by a doctor before getting back to running. You might have poor alignment in your feet, legs, or hips. You might be overpronating (rolling your feet inwards when you walk). Or you might have arthritis or a torn ligament.
If you’ve gotten your doctor’s ok to start running again, here are ten shoes that will help cushion your knees and joints for a run that feels great.
Top 3 Best and Favorites
Best Cushioned Stability Shoe for Bad Knees
Hoka One One Gaviota
The Gaviota from Hoka is the company’s go-to for overpronators. With more cushion and stability than even the Arahi (another Hoka shoe), the Gaviota is one of Hoka’s softest running shoes plus it has enough stability to correct overpronation.
A common cause of knee pain comes from the runner’s foot rolling in too much (overpronating). It’s not uncommon to find that a good shoe fixes those problems, both by providing extra cushion and comfort and by helping to control and guide the the feet during the running gait. The Gaviota does both, thanks to its J-Frame technology.
The J-Frame is a j-shaped support network engineered throughout the shoe to provide medial (inside) support to your feet, which is exactly where it’s needed when you’re having knee problems caused by overpronation. Thanks to EVA foam and rubber, the cushion on this shoe might be described as “cloud-like.” In fact, the Gaviota is one of Hoka’s softest shoes!
- Plush and cushioned
- Smoother gait than a traditional stability shoe
- High levels of stability for overpronators
- At 10.5oz, this is a heavy shoe
Best Long Distance Running Shoe for Bad Knees
Hoka One One Bondi 5
Another great shoe from Hoka One One, the Bondi 5 provides some serious cushion power. Utilizing many of the same technologies as the Gaviota, this model provides 43.5mm of cushion right at the heel. Whether you’re looking for a road warrior or a trail marathon running partner, this is a great option.
Thanks to the Bondi’s deep cushioning, runners report feeling like the shoe conforms to their feet so that they’re running in their shoes, not on. Even though Hoka markets this shoe as a neutral shoe, it has enough support to help mild overpronators – the shoe is very stiff and helps guide the foot into the correct running stride. It has a steady curve on the bottom of the shoe, which helps smooth the transition while running. It also provides enough stiffness that it can often help runners with arthritic toes.
You’ll notice great response on the heel, as well as a sleek look. The Bondi looks kind of funky with it’s high stack height – but it’s soft ride will help ease any knee pain you’re experiencing.
- Great road shoe due to its curved sole and cushioning
- Provides strong support and stiffness to help correct gait
- Strong midfoot protection, which provides increased arch support
- Rocker on sole takes getting used to
- Some have complained the sole wears out quickly
Most Comfortable Running Shoe for Bad Knees
Brooks Glycerin 16
The Glycerin 16 is plush, ultra-cushioned running shoe, making it a great option for people whose knees are actively hurting. It’s , which is a little on the heavier side, but what it gains in weight it makes up for in overall comfort.
Thanks to the Super DNA material in the midsole, runners in this shoe enjoy a strong transition as they roll from heel to toe, which helps take the pressure of the outer corner of the knee, relieving pain and discomfort. Reviewers describe this material as responsive and feel like it has more than adequate stability throughout runs and jogs.
The padded upper and cushion in the heel add to the overall soft landing for the Glycerin.
- Great arch support thanks to exclusive midsole technology
- Lightweight for its class
- Very high level of comfort
- Fairly heavy
- Not as secure in the midfoot as older versions
Lightest Running Shoe for Bad Knees
Hoka One One Clifton 4
The Clifton 4 from Hoka is their best-selling model. It’s lightweight, has great cushioning, and looks a little more “shoe-like” than some of Hoka’s other models.
It has a mesh overlay and foam platform which combine to create a very powerful show from a well-respected company. The 37mm of cushion at the heel gives you an idea of the kind of foam and comfort available on this shoe, but runners report that even with all the extra cushiong (which translates to less pressure on your joints, including knees), the Clifton is still very responsive.
Tight, firm mesh makes this shoe breathable, which you’ll love if the weather is hot and humid or you just have trouble keeping your feet dry. This is actually an upgrade from previous Cliftons that had a less porous mesh and didn’t prove to be very durable.
This version has already shown itself to be more durable. The shoe weighs in on the lighter side for a cushioned shoe (10oz), but you might still feel like it’s heavy if you’re used to a normal trainer. Either way, this shoe will provide the padding to go the distance without increasing knee pain.
- Stiffness provides extra ankle support and helps with high arches
- Good toe-off from the forefoot
- More durability than older versions
- Very lightweight but not as light as prior models
Best Trail Running Shoe for Bad Knees
Hoka One One Challenger 4
Similar to the Clifton from Hoka, the Challenger is optimal for trail runners who have bad knees. With its all-terrain sole and low drop (only 5mm), it provides great traction and stability over light to moderate trails.
The Challenger’s oversized EVA midsole provides firm comfort where it’s needed, and the dual layer mesh upper provides additional protection from gravel, rocks, and sticks. The shoe has 4mm lugs on the sole that shed mud and grip the trail, helping to keep you dialed in on the trails.
At 9oz, this is a lightweight shoe for a cushioned trail shoe. The extra cushioning will help mitigate knee pain. The meta-rocker midsole helps to push your foot forward so you don’t heel strike.
- Great all-terrain trainers
- Very soft forefoot and heel for comfort
- Strong toe cap to keep your foot from sliding forward
- Aggressive tread makes this shoe not good on pavement
Best Neutral Running Shoe for Bad Knees
New Balance 1080v8
The 1080 from New Balance is a neutral shoe that provides high levels of support for your knees, shin splints, or plantar fasciitis, even if you don’t pronate or supinate. The upper’s engineered mesh is comfortable thanks to its breathability, plus its toe cap is supportive and helps to provide extra stability, keeping your foot on the supportive platform.
This model tends to run wide, so if you have a wide foot, you’ll appreciate this shoe’s construction. The Fresh Foam midsole powers through with support and comfort. Your aching knees will rejoice when your feet sink down into the plush lining and comfort-optimized sole.
- Super plush cushion for comfortable ride
- Low heel-to-toe drop means more natural running
- Breathable upper
- Fairly high profile, so unsuitable for anything besides running on pavement or very light trails
Best Running Shoes for Bad Knees and Orthotics
Asics Fortitude 8
The Fortitude from Asics is a great shoe with solid cushioning in place for all-day walking or running. What people with knee pain especially appreciate about this shoe is its ability to take an orthotic. Whether it’s an over the counter insert or you’ve been prescribed a custom orthotic or wedge by your podiatrist, having that extra room prevents the top of your foot from being squished inside the shoe.
Thanks to its wide toe box, the Fortitude is also highly suitable for particular tall or heavyset individuals. The gel cushioning system is strong yet light and helps to reduce shock during the impact phase and propulsion. This means the impact stops at the heel and doesn’t travel up to your knees.
An upper directional mesh upper with stretch reinforcements adapts on the fly to the shape of your foot.
- Asics’ gel cushioning system is in the forefoot and heel for maximum stable comfort
- Breathable upper mesh
- Neutral shoe
- Accepts orthotics easily
- Wider base might be inconvenient for people with narrow feet
- Can feel clunky to some runners
Best Asics Stability Shoe for Bad Knees
Asics Gel-Kayano 25
If you’re a performance runner and longing to run pain-free or get back to your elite levels of competition, you’re going to love the Asics Kayano 25. This most recent iteration of the Kayano is enhanced by Asic’s FlyteFoam, a high-performance, lightweight foam.
FlyteFoam is composed of reinforced fibers in foam. It manages to add the stability and strength your tired knees crave, yet does so without added weight. You’ll find the cushioning feels firm and responsive, but molds to your feet for comfort all day long.
This is a shoe designed for overpronators, perfect since if you’re dealing with knee pain, there’s a good chance you’re overpronating.
- Low profile heel cup for better silhouette and a more streamlined feel
- Extremely durable over hundreds of miles
- Gel cushioning in forefoot and heel provides superior cushion as you rack up the miles
- Very heavy (11.3oz)
- Some break-in period required
Best Running Shoes for Overpronators With Bad Knees
Hoka One One Arahi 2
The Arahi from Hoka One One is designed for overpronators who don’t want the inflexibility and rigidity that normally comes with stability shoes. In this iteration of the Arahi, you’ll find what Hoka calls its J-Frame technology.
The J-Frame technology is a piece of j-shaped engineered foam designed to provide strength where you need it (along the medial or inside edge of your shoe) and comfort and cushion where you need it (along the heel and lateral edges). This innovative design cuts down on weight and provides a cushioned, responsive ride without unforgiving, stiff materials.
Reviewers love the stability this shoe provides, perfect for those conscious of causing further injury to knees, shins, or ankles.
- J-Frame engineering provides stability without weight
- Denser foam under the arch keeps it from rolling in
- More breathable textile on the upper
- Lightweight (9.6oz)
- Very high profile might offset some of that sleek feeling
Best Saucony Support Shoe for Bad Knees
Saucony Hurricane ISO 3
If you’re a fan of Saucony’s fantastic running shoes and you have knee pain, this is the perfect shoe for you. Great for moderate overpronators, this shoe has cushion, stability, and performance features built-in throughout.
Saucony’s EVERUN technology might be popular across its lines, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still impressive. The EVERUN landing zone under the heel creates a sort of trampoline effect that provides you with maximum responsiveness and more performance with less energy output.
Reviewers note that the energy on this shoe is great – they feel faster – and the flexibility of the ISOFIT system adapts to their feet, so they get a customized feel. The inner layer is moisture wicking for added comfort.
- Great energy return
- Increased cushioning throughout
- Dynamic engineered mesh upper for better support
- Fairly inflexible, which might decrease comfort