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Best Cushioned Running Shoes in 2023


Cushioning in running shoes is about more than just comfort. Cushioning helps absorb shock every time your foot lands on the ground. This makes a big difference in how comfortable you feel as well as protecting your feet and legs from injury.

Less impact means your joints don’t take on the full impact of every step. If you’re prone to foot, ankle, and knee pain with no apparent cause, a more cushioned pair of shoes could be the key to improving them.

Here are the best cushioned running shoes available now. There’s something for everyone here: soft, firm, springy, comfortable.

The Hoka Bondi 8 is one of the most popular cushioned shoes, and it’s in our number one spot. It’s soft, marshmallow-y, and lets your feet ride in a bucket seat of comfort.

But if you aren’t a fan of the chunky Hoka style, there are plenty more options to choose from. Let’s check them out.

Top 3 Best and Favorites


Hoka Bondi 8


  • Wide and stable
  • Responsive
  • Thick, chunky sole


Hoka Rincon 3


  • Lightweight
  • Compression-molded EVA foam midsole
  • Early stage meta-rocker


Hoka Gaviota 4


  • Durable mesh upper
  • Excellent stability
  • Adjustable midfoot fit

Best Overall

1. Hoka Bondi 8

The Hoka Bondi 8 is one of Hoka’s original running shoes and still remains incredibly popular. It can be used as a daily trainer or for easy/recovery runs.

What We Like

If you want cushion, the Bondi 8 has it. Under your heel, you’ll have an impressive 39 mm of foam, with just slightly less in the forefoot, 35 mm. That falls just below the legal limit for races, so you know this shoe is pushing boundaries!

The midsole foam is both soft and cushy and yet somewhat responsive at the same time. It’s a comfortably cushioned ride, but despite its slight spring and a meta-rocker built into the sole, it’s not a shoe made for speed.

However, you will benefit from this shoe’s softness on easy recovery runs. It does a great job absorbing shock, so your joints should be well-protected. If you aren’t used to running in such cushioned shoes, you should notice an improvement in joint pain.

The plushness of this shoe doesn’t stop at the midsole. A thick, spongy heel collar and tongue surround your foot with cushion on all sides. There’s even a handy pull tab at the heel to help you get it on and off easily.

Soft-engineered mesh encases your foot, suitable for vegans and made from recyclable materials too! Multiple users have praised the upper’s breathability, saying it’s excellent for warm weather runs.

The outsole has enough rubber to make the shoes fairly durable without adding too much extra weight. Plus, it adds a touch more shock absorption to protect your already pampered feet.

Why We Like It

It’s got a serious chunk of cushioning which is the perfect combination of soft and bouncy. The plushness extends throughout the shoe but doesn’t weigh you down on the run.

What to Consider

The Hoka 8 might be tight in the toe box for wide-footed runners. You can get the shoe in wide, but the rest of the shoe fits true to size. So going up a full size just for the wider toe box could make the entire shoe too big.

Also, while the Bondi 8 is surprisingly lightweight, given the amount of cushioning in the sole, it’s still a fairly heavy shoe. It may be more challenging than you anticipate if you want to pick up the pace.

What’s New

The midsole foam of the Bondi 8 has been reworked to be softer and more responsive than the previous version’s midsole. That stack of cushioning has actually increased by 6 mm (!), although surprisingly, the shoe has lost about half an ounce in weight.

A slightly wider base adds more stability to the shoe, and increased rubber coverage on the outsole gives it a durability boost. Lastly, the upper has been revamped to include more sustainable materials.


  • A versatile shoe that can be used for easy, recovery, and long-distance runs
  • The breathable engineered mesh upper is sleek, soft, and provides a secure ride
  • A highly cushioned shoe that’s not mushy but is soft and supportive, which helps absorb impact
  • Well-balanced meta-rocker provides incredibly smooth transitions


  • The shoe is still heavy, and some runners may find it challenging to pick up the pace in them

Top Value

2. Hoka Rincon 3

The Hoka Rincon 3 is a budget-friendly shoe with a great value punch. They are a great shoe if you want cushioning at a nice price point.

What We Like

The Rincon has a bit less cushion than the Bondi, which makes it an excellent entry-level shoe for someone who wants to take the step to more cushioned running shoes.

The men’s shoe has slightly more cushioning than the women’s. It features 29 mm of CMEVA foam in the heel, as opposed to 26 mm in the women’s, with a 5 mm drop. It’s also the lightest shoe in Hoka’s collection, so you’ll most likely be able to pick up the pace in these more easily.

Those with Hoka experience will notice that it’s a little firmer than the previous Rincons but still has a nice bit of spring. An early-stage meta-rocker adds to the smooth toe-off, making your stride feel effortless and comfortable.

A sleek, breathable upper with a unique venting design comes in a wide range of colorways—there’s something for everyone! Rubber placed on high-wear areas on the outsole adds some durability.

Why We Like It

This is an amazing quality shoe for its price range. If you’re looking for your first pair of Hoka shoes or want to try something more cushioned without a high price tag, this is a great option.

What to Consider

Although they’re great value for money, the Rincon 3 is less durable than other Hokas. Expect to have to replace it sooner if you run frequently.

What’s New

The upper got a revamp and now features a thin, asymmetrical tongue and a thinned-out pull tab for weight-saving and improved comfort. You’ll also find newly-designed vents along the forefoot to increase breathability.

An update to the heel counter makes the shoe more streamlined. Plus, the changes have lightened the shoe by about ⅓ of an ounce.


  • A lightweight daily trainer that lets you pick up the pace on a variety of runs, like tempo runs, fartleks, or races
  • Compression-molded EVA foam midsole is soft and responsive
  • Early stage meta-rocker provides smooth, fast transitions with a bit of snap as you pick up the pace without losing ground contact feel
  • Durable outsole with strategically-placed rubber in high-wear areas, which offers excellent grip


  • This shoe is slightly less durable than other models

Best for Support and Cushioning

3. Hoka Gaviota 4

The Hoka Gaviota 4 is a well-cushioned stability shoe. Overpronators looking for a supportive shoe with decent cushioning should consider this one.

What We Like

Overpronators who enjoy the feeling of plush cushioning will appreciate the Gaviota 4. Like all Hokas, it’s got a monster slab of EVA foam in the midsole—40 mm in the heel and 35 mm in the forefoot.

As you can imagine, this does a great job of absorbing shock on your run. The foam is cushy but not overly soft, adding a slight firmness that stabilizes the shoe.

But the true stability feature is Hoka’s J-frame—a curved, J-shaped piece of foam running down the medial side of the midsole and around the heel. It’s dense and doesn’t compress easily—designed to stop flat feet from rolling in.

Another thing we like about the midsole is its “bucket seat” design. With slightly raised edges, your foot settles into the footbed rather than resting on top, keeping it a touch more stable.

There’s also the usual Hoka meta-rocker, which helps to smooth the transition here and adds a subtle feeling of speed without compromising the shoe’s stability.

Even the upper is plush, making your foot feel like it’s being hugged. An H-frame built into the upper helps you to get a good lockdown by pulling the upper tightly around the foot for extra structure and stability.

Why We Like It

This shoe is ideal for mild to moderate overpronators who want a soft, comfortable, well-cushioned shoe that still offers the support they need. Take the time to break it in, and it will serve you well.

What to Consider

The Gaviota is not the most responsive stability shoe. If you’re planning on doing speedwork, it will feel clunky. You may want to consider the Hoka Arahi in that case.

What’s New

Most things have stayed the same from the previous version. The upper has been redesigned to be more lightweight and fit better, the collar and tongue are a touch more padded, and the men’s shoe has gained a few grams in weight.


  • The durable mesh upper is breathable, soft, and moves with your foot
  • A thick layer of protective cushioning offers a smooth ride with a bit of bounce that’s a great choice for long distances
  • Excellent stability due to its wide base and supportive J-frame technology, which helps to control overpronation
  • The H-Frame allows for an adjustable midfoot fit that enhances stability and provides a secure lockdown


  • It’s not the most responsive shoe

Top for Wide Feet

4. New Balance 1080v12

Runners with wide feet have more shoe options now than ever, but New Balance shoes are the perfect choice.

They’re designed to be a little wider than average, making them extra comfortable, and they feature excellent cushioning. Plus this shoe comes in wide and extra-wide models.

What We Like

Fresh Foam X in the midsole of the 1080v12 gives you a soft, plush feeling underfoot. With 34 mm in the heel and 26 mm in the ball of the foot, there’s plenty of shock-absorbing padding to protect your feet.

It’s ideal for easy recovery and longer, more relaxed runs. There’s not a lot of bounce in the foam, but the rockered sole and flexible forefoot gives you a good bit of toe spring, making it seem faster than it is.

One of the best changes to this version of the shoe is the redesigned heel. The previous design, the UltraHeel, could have been better received, and New Balance took the hint and replaced it with a plush, padded heel cup that locks the foot in quite nicely.

The rest of the upper is comfortable with a touch of stretch, featuring a spacious toe box that makes it a good choice for wide-footed runners. Aside from that, the base is naturally wider, adding extra stability to the shoe.

Rubber covers a significant portion of the outsole, providing a good grip on several different surfaces. It also increases the shoe’s durability, so you should be able to get a few hundred miles out of these shoes.

Why We Like It

The 1080 v12 is a plush and comfortable choice for wider-footed runners. Wiggle-room in the toe box, a soft, stretchy upper, and a layer of Fresh Foam in the midsole give it the perfect combination of comfort and shock absorption.

It comes in wide and extra-wide versions to fit runners with wide feet.

What to Consider

New Balance shoes are known for being wider than average. This means they may not be comfortable for people with narrow feet.

What’s New

New Balance did away with the unpopular UltraHeel and gave this shoe a proper, padded heel again, which provides a much better lockdown. It has, however, added a little over an ounce to the weight of the shoe. The shoe also has a slightly wider base and more aggressive lugs.


  • The Stretchy upper with a wider toe box is spacious and comfortable for runners with wide feet
  • Rockered geometry propels you forward with a decent amount of toe spring to give a rolling sensation
  • The redesigned heel cup is padded, making it more comfortable, and does a great job of clutching your heel
  • A generous layer of Fresh Foam X is comfortable no matter how far or fast you run


  • It may not be suitable for runners with narrow feet

Best Brooks Cushioned Running Shoe

5. Brooks Glycerin 20

If you’re a fan of Brooks shoes and looking for an impressively cushioned shoe, the Glycerin 20 is an excellent one to try. It’s a neutral shoe with some exciting and practical updates.

What We Like

There’s 34 mm of cushioning in the heel of this shoe, and it has a 10 mm heel-to-toe drop. That’s a good amount of cushioning without being overly chunky.

The midsole is a new Brooks foam—nitrogen-infused for extra softness, sponginess, and lightness. It has a hint of bounce to it as well, which is nice, but don’t expect to run PRs in this shoe.

The plushness extends to the upper, which is flexible, light, and molds to the foot. Inside, it feels soft and plush, locking your foot down comfortably without chafing.

Well-designed overlays that offer some structure work well with the wider platform to make for a stable shoe.

Why We Like It

The Brooks Glycerin 20 is one of Brooks’ most innovative new offerings. The unique midsole makes for a comfortable and lightly springy ride while your feet remain safe from shock.

What to Consider

Some wearers have reported that their laces don’t stay tied. This is more of an irritation than anything and may not happen with everyone, but remember that it can become a tripping hazard.

What’s New

The new nitrogen-infused midsole is the biggest change to this shoe. It’s softer and lighter but also more durable than it was before.


  • Breathable upper molds to the shape of your foot and features a plush interior
  • Nitrogen-infused EVA foam is extremely comfortable and provides a springy ride with some energy return
  • The wider platform enhances stability and lets your toes splay naturally
  • Despite its bulky appearance, the shoe feels lightweight


  • Some runners have reported that the laces don’t stay tied

Top ASICS Cushioned Running Shoe

6. ASICS Gel-Nimbus 25

ASICS fan? The Gel-Nimbus is the shoe we recommend for the best cushioning. We love ASICS’ Gel cushioning, a twist on the traditional all-foam midsole that adds extra comfort.

What We Like

The Gel-Nimbus is an impressively cushioned running shoe. Although it doesn’t look like it, this shoe features more padding underfoot than the Hoka Bondi! You’ll get a surprising 41.5 mm of foam in the heel of the men’s shoe and 33.5 in the forefoot—1 mm less in the women’s versions.

But aside from the amount of cushioning, the padding quality is one of the things we love most about this shoe. The FF Blast+ Eco cushioning runs throughout the shoe, fortified by a PureGel insert in the rear foot for extra shock absorption.

The ride is softer in the heel and slightly more energetic towards the front of the shoe, which means you can pick up the pace if you wish to. However, the heavy cushioning might be harder to maintain for long.

Despite the thick slab of cushioning, a forefoot rocker and substantial heel bevel make transitions easy on this shoe—the slightly wider-than-average platform provides stability throughout your gait cycle.

A snug, stretchy upper finishes this shoe off nicely. It feels luxurious and locks your foot down well within the shoe, keeping you stable. On the outsole, three well-placed sections of rubber—AHAR in the forefoot and AHAR+ in the heel—keep you safe on your feet.

Why We Like It

We love the Gel cushioning of this shoe. It’s an excellent shock-absorber and provides unparalleled comfort, and the forefoot rocker helps you to get a nice toe-off.

What to Consider

Some users have mentioned that the upper is a little thick, impacting the shoe’s breathability. There might be better choices for those who run in hot weather and struggle with their feet overheating.

What’s New

The most notable change to the Gel-Nimbus 25 is the PureGel cushioning in the heel, which adds a small amount of extra weight to the shoe. The upper has also had a slight redesign for a better fit.

An exciting update is that the stack height has been increased, but the heel-to-toe drop has decreased. They added 6 mm to the forefoot but only 4 mm to the heel, resulting in a heel drop of 8 mm.


  • Luxurious knit upper hugs your foot, and while it does stretch slightly, it offers a comfortable, secure, locked-down feel
  • A thick slab of lightweight and energetic foam is pillowy soft but offers a smooth ride
  • PureGel Technology in the heel offers a plush step-in feel and helps absorb shock upon impact
  • Noticeably wider base, which enhances stability and provides a great landing zone


  • The upper is a bit thick, which can reduce the breathability of the shoe

Best ASICS Stability Shoe

7. ASICS Gel-Kayano 30

The Gel-Kayano is ASICS’ stability shoe offering. Overpronators will enjoy the comfort and cushion of this one, plus the stability features have been revamped to be more comfortable and supportive.

What We Like

The Gel-Kayano has been a favorite for decades, and this version should please ASICS fans just as much as previous ones. It’s got an excellent combination of support, cushioning, and plush comfort.

In the midsole, you’ll find the brand’s Flytefoam Blast+, which has a touch of firmness and a bit more bounce than the previous version. A medial post—a more dense section of foam in the medial side of the shoe—supports an overpronator’s foot without feeling intrusive during the run.

The upper is soft as silk against the skin. Not only does it feel great, but the plush heel collar and tongue hold your foot in place gently, adding an extra layer of structural support.

Despite being fairly narrow in the midfoot, the shoe features a sizable toe box that allows your toes room to move naturally. A good amount of dual-density rubber on the outsole stops you from slipping on wet or slippery ground and extends the shoe’s lifespan.

Why We Like It

These shoes combine ASICS’ cushioning with non-invasive support. Overpronators will appreciate the comfort and cushion it offers.

What to Consider

These shoes run naturally narrow. Those with wide feet might not fit comfortably into these shoes, so we recommend choosing a different brand if your feet are slightly wider than average.

What’s New

This shoe is slightly lighter than its previous version, primarily due to an updated foam in the midsole. It’s been redesigned to be softer and bouncier and gained 2 mm of stack height. A softer rubber has replaced the previous plastic Trusstic system.


  • Narrow profile but has a spacious toe box for enough wiggle room
  • Buttery-soft upper with thick padded heel collar helps to lock your foot down effectively
  • Copious amounts of Flytefoam Blast+ midsole is soft but offers a protective and energetic ride
  • The medial post gently guides your foot but doesn’t feel invasive as you run


  • This shoe runs narrow and won’t be suitable for runners with wide feet

Fastest Cushioned Running Shoe

8. Saucony Endorphin Speed 3

If you’re looking for a fast shoe that still packs a some cushion, the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 could be the one for you.

What We Like

This shoe features the same amount of cushioning as many of the others on this list—36 mm in the heel and 26 mm in the forefoot, giving you an 8 mm drop. It’s a fairly light shoe, at around 8 ounces, but the magic is in the midsole.

Saucony’s PWRRUN PB foam is light and speedy. The feature that sets this shoe apart from other max-cushioned shoes is a built-in nylon plate. It performs the same function as a carbon plate but with a slightly more forgiving feeling underfoot. You can get a great spring as you run, but it remains comfortable for keeping the pace on longer runs.

A two-layered upper wraps comfortably around the foot. It’s not overly plush compared to most other shoes in this class, but the thinner layer contributes to the shoe’s lightness.

The textured XT-900 rubber outsole grips surprisingly well to most surfaces, pushing you forward and helping you keep up the pace.

Why We Like It

We love that this shoe allows you to go fast while remaining well-cushioned and comfortable for long periods of time. It’s not overly plush, which makes it great for speedwork.

What to Consider

Saucony shoes run a little wide, especially in the toe box. If you have narrow feet, you might not enjoy the feeling of these shoes—they may feel a little sloppy on your feet.

What’s New

The Speed 3 features a few changes. One, the base has been widened for extra stability. This also accommodates the supportive wings on the nylon plate. An additional 0.5 mm to 1 mm in the stack height is hardly noticeable, and it adds a ⅕-ounce to the shoe’s weight.


  • A brilliant mix of cushioning and responsiveness makes these shoes great for picking up the pace
  • PWRRUN PB foam and a built-in nylon plate give you a great pop and allow you to up your speed in these shoes
  • Double-layer mesh upper wraps around the foot and is extremely breathable
  • XT-900 rubber outsole provides great traction and keeps you safe on your feet even at a speed


  • Those with narrow feet may find these shoes to be uncomfortable

Best Casual Running Shoe

9. New Balance 990v6

This is what we’d call a “dad shoe,” but it’s a good one to run in if you want something casual that doesn’t look overly like an athletic shoe. Or if you’d prefer a shoe to wear around and run in occasionally.

What We Like

The New Balance 990v6 is a classic-looking shoe, further evidenced by the fact that it’s only available in black and gray colorways. It features a mesh and synthetic upper, with a midfoot frame that hugs the foot when you lace the shoe—a nice feature if you want to run in these shoes.

In the midsole, FuelCell foam has been added to the ENCAP cushioning—something usually found in the New Balance performance footwear models. This is the thing that makes it a good option for running, plus the chunkier midsole foam, which will absorb shock on every step.

A TPU heel counter helps to stabilize the foot as you move, and reflective accents on the upper make it great for running in low light.

Why We Like It

The style of this shoe is a throwback to the old original. New Balance fans will love the design, and it’s cushioned enough to take a run in it if you want something that doesn’t look like the traditional running shoe.

What to Consider

This may be more of a casual shoe than a running shoe. It might not be as comfortable as expected, so it’s wise to try before buying if possible.

What’s New

The FuelCell midsole is new, and the sole unit is a bit chunkier than the previous ones. Aside from that, the design is a classic.


  • Mesh and synthetic upper looks stylish and is well-padded
  • FuelCell and ENCAP midsole cushioning provide ample shock absorption
  • Midfoot saddle allows you to get a good lockdown on your foot so you can run with stability
  • Almost full rubber cover across the outsole provides you with the best grip possible on a number of surfaces


  • This shoe may not be as comfortable as other running shoes

Top Wide Toe Box and Zero Drop Shoe

10. Altra Paradigm 7

Are you already used to a zero-drop shoe or looking to switch to one? The Altra Paradigm 7 is one of the most cushioned zero-drop shoes you’ll find. There’s no need to go minimalist! It also has an impressive toe box.

What We Like

With a zero-drop platform of 30 mm underneath your foot, your foot will be in a natural position, but it’ll still be well-cushioned. This cushioning is more than enough to absorb shock, protecting your feet as you run.

Altra’s FootShape toe box is another brand-specific feature. Those who need space in the forefoot will appreciate the space—there’s more than enough for your toes to move naturally.

InnerFlex technology in the midfoot makes it surprisingly flexible. One of the things that we really appreciate about this particular shoe is that it’s got built-in support in the form of GuideRails.

The best thing is that they only come into play if your feet move out of alignment. In this case, they’ll gently guide them back. Otherwise, you won’t even know they’re there.

Excellent rubber coverage on the outsole provides all the grip you need. Also, the cushioning on this shoe isn’t limited to under your foot—the ankle collar and tongue are quite plush as well.

Why We Like It

This shoe breaks through the misconception that a zero-drop shoe must be a minimalist. It offers a balanced, flat platform, ample padding, and supportive technology—everything you need for a comfortable, cushioned run.

What to Consider

The toe box on this shoe is very specifically shaped, and it might only be comfortable for some. Some people won’t enjoy the fit and feel of the FootShaped toe box even if they’re happy with the zero-drop platform.

What’s New

The support remains the same, but the aesthetics have been updated. A slimmer heel design and InnovArch technology have been added. The sole uses EGO Max foam, which is softer yet slightly more responsive. There’s also been an upper refresh.


  • Balanced Cushioning platform encourages a natural foot strike while still providing ample cushioning and comfort
  • Roomy, FootShape toe box allows your toes space to splay comfortably
  • Plush, padded ankle collar and heel for all-round cushioning
  • GuideRail technology adds extra stability to your stride


  • The toe box might feel uncomfortably shaped for some

Best Motion Control Shoe

11. Brooks Beast/Ariel 20

The Brooks Beast/Ariel is a motion-control shoe designed for severe overpronators. There’s enough support built into this shoe to keep your feet stable and injury-free. It’s worth noting that the Beast is the men’s version, and the Ariel is the women’s version.

What We Like

This shoe features a full 12 mm drop, with 23 mm in the forefoot and 35 mm in the heel. That’s plenty of cushion, and in addition to the shock-absorbing properties, it features GuideRails for pronation correction.

These are unusually unobtrusive. If your foot doesn’t roll, you don’t even feel them. And if your foot does roll, the GuideRails gently guide it back with no pain or discomfort.

A spongy insole on top of the midsole adds even more comfort underfoot. The shoe feels a touch stiff, but that’s to be expected with motion-control shoes. It doesn’t take away from the underfoot comfort.

The upper is breathable enough to take out on a hot day with no worries. It also does a great job of wicking away moisture so your feet won’t get sweaty. A spacious toe box encourages the toes to splay.

The outsole has excellent rubber coverage and is extremely durable. You can expect hundreds of happy miles from these shoes before they wear out!

Why We Like It

These shoes provide the ideal support for severe overpronators without being intrusive or uncomfortable. Plus, the great cushioning absorbs shock and reduces foot pain and fatigue.

What to Consider

This shoe is quite pricey compared to others in the same category. The forefoot is also too spacious, considering the sleek fit of the rest of the shoe.

What’s New

The midsole has been updated, the GuideRails have been altered slightly, and the shoe has slimmed down by almost 2 ounces.


  • Substantial cushioning with a 12 mm drop for padding and support
  • GuideRails keep the feet in position gently and without being intrusive
  • Abrasion-resistant outsole lasts for hundreds of miles
  • Breathable, moisture-wicking upper with a roomy toe box


  • This shoe is a little pricey
  • The forefoot is a bit too spacious

Top Cushioned Trail Shoe

12. Hoka Speedgoat 5

Prefer to run the trails than the roads? The Hoka Speedgoat 5 could be the right shoe for you. It’s got cushion, it’s got comfort, and it can handle tough, technical trails.

What We Like

The Speedgoat will help you navigate trails with confidence and comfort. 33 mm under the heel and 29 mm in the forefoot provide ample cushioning for bouncing over rocks without hurting your feet or jarring your joints.

You can take this shoe on the road and get a nicely cushioned ride. But the midsole feels vibrant and alive on the trail, almost moving with your feet to provide the best shock absorption possible on rough ground.

Plus, the thick layer of foam protects your feet from rocks, branches, and other debris that may be a hazard.

Underfoot, the Vibram with Megagrip outsole features multi-directional 5 mm lugs that bite into the ground and propel you forward. There’s also a late-stage meta-rocker to help your heel-to-toe transition flow more smoothly.

Why We Like It

The Speedgoat 5 is the best choice of trail running shoe for those who want cushioning. It’s protective, comfortable, and pushes you forward with the meta-rocker and aggressive outsole design.

What to Consider

The Speedgoat is said to run a little narrow. It may not be a comfortable fit for those with wider feet, so consider this before buying.

What’s New

The Speedgoat 5 has gone through many changes. The fit has been improved by reducing the volume in the shoe, although the upper is also more stretchy than it was before.

It also features a new midsole foam, an updated outsole, and a new meta-rocker. It’s saved a bit of weight off as well.


  • Ample midsole cushioning protects your feet from jarring and hazards
  • Double-layer jacquard mesh upper keeps your feet cool on the trails
  • Late-stage meta-rocker propels you forward with less effort
  • Vibram with Megagrip outsole provides superb grip on rough ground, keeping you safe on trails of all designs


  • It runs a little narrow

Buyer’s Guide – Cushioned Running Shoes


This is obviously what you’re going to focus on. The optimal amount of cushioning will differ for everyone, so you might want to try a few different levels of cushioning and find what feels good to you.

Different midsole foams also feel different. Some provide soft, squishy cushioning that feels like walking on a cloud. Others are more firm and springy, so getting a feel for what you like is important.

Remember that walking around in a shop and running for an extended period of time is different, and the shoe might feel different on the road than it does in the store. Do your research first!


Generally, more cushioning adds weight to the shoe. But that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily heavy shoes—some are still fairly light but might be heavier than other similar shoes.

However, technology has also progressed to the point where midsole foams are getting lighter and lighter. You now have nitrogen-infused foams and similar tech, which are creating decent chunks of cushion with much less weight behind them.

The important thing is that the shoe feels comfortable to you. If you walk around the store and it feels clunky, it’s probably not for you. It should feel light and not like it’s weighing you down.


Regardless of how much cushioning you choose, you must ensure the arch support is right for your foot. Neutral feet can wear almost any shoe, and underpronators can also take their pick but should choose a more laterally-supportive shoe.

Those who overpronate need a shoe that provides support and structure. Mild to moderate overpronators should look at stability shoes, while severe overpronators should go for motion control shoes.


Max-cushioned shoes are often pricey due to the extra foam in their midsoles. You can still find decently-priced ones, but be prepared to pay for extra padding. Setting a budget and only shopping within that figure might be worthwhile.


Is It Better to Run With Cushioned Shoes?

Everybody is different, but a bit of cushioning underfoot is generally helpful. It absorbs the shock that your foot experiences every time you land, reducing your chance of injury.

Some people swear by minimalist shoes and insist that cushioned shoes weaken our feet. While a person with a strong neutral foot can probably get away with running in barefoot shoes, anyone who overpronates—close to 70 percent of runners—or underpronates will be better off with some cushioning.

In the case of overpronation and underpronation, the arch doesn’t quite absorb the shock as it should, especially for supinators. In this case, minimalist shoes can do more harm than good, although we still suggest doing foot-strengthening exercises.

What Is the Downside of Cushioned Running Shoes?

If you’re the kind of runner who likes to feel the ground beneath their feet, cushioned shoes can interfere with that. Those who want lightweight, barefoot-like shoes might not like the layer of cushioning under their feet.

Some people may feel that extra cushion slows them down. But that depends on what you’re used to and the weight of the actual shoe—not all cushioned shoes are heavy!

Do Heavier Runners Need More Cushioning?

Did you know your feet can take up to 4 times your body weight in force when you land during a run? It makes sense that heavier runners would benefit from more cushion in their shoes.

This is the part of the shoe that absorbs shock on the landing. The better the cushioning, the more your feet and joints are spared from vibration-induced damage.

Do Cushioned Shoes Make You Run Slower?

This typically depends on what you’re used to. If you’ve always used max-cushioned shoes, it probably feels quite natural.

But if there’s some weighty cushioning in your shoes and you’re used to running in much more minimal shoes, you may feel like you’re running much slower than usual.

Not all cushioning is heavy, though. Some, like nitrogen-infused foam, are much lighter than you might expect. So just because a shoe is highly cushioned doesn’t automatically mean it will weigh you down.

Are Cushioned Shoes Good for Knee Pain?

If your knee pain is caused by the jarring impact every time you land, then more cushioned shoes should help to reduce it. However, if it’s caused by poor foot alignment due to wearing the wrong shoes, then extra cushion probably won’t change it.

It’s important to nail down the cause of your knee pain before making changes to fix it. Once you know what’s behind it, you’ll know the best steps to take to treat it. In some cases, it may involve wearing more cushioned shoes, but in others, that won’t be a factor in others.

Ben Drew

Ben Drew

Ben is an avid road and trail runner, and has completed multiple marathons and ultras. A former running store owner, he now shares his knowledge and experience writing these articles.

The Wired Runner