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Best Walking Shoes For Bad Knees in 2021

 

The knee is one of the most injury-prone joints in the body. It takes a force of up to four times your body weight when you run.

When out exercising, choosing the best walking shoes for bad knees can reduce pressure on these joints. Although there will still be a lot of force on the joint with every step, there will be less jarring and vibration when you’re wearing the right shoes.

We chose the Hoka One One Bondi 7, as it is one of the most cushioned shoes on the market. It features TPU overlays for extra support and rubber inserts on the outsole for good grip on most surfaces.

We have reviewed 11 different shoes so you can find the right footwear for you and start reducing your knee pain.

Top 3 Best and Favorite

 

Hoka One One Bondi 7

 

  • Open-engineered mesh upper
  • TPU overlays for support
  • Memory foam ankle collar
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Saucony Echelon Walker 3

 

  • Full-grain leather upper
  • PWRRUN midsole cushioning
  • Flat laces
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ASICS GEL-NIMBUS 23

 

  • Flytefoam midsole technology
  • Rearfoot Gel technology
  • Heel Clutching System
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Best Overall

1. Hoka One One Bondi 7

If you need extra cushioning in your shoes, the Hoka One One Bondi 7 is highly recommended. It is the most cushioned shoe Hoka makes and does an excellent job of absorbing impact and saving your knees.

The full-length, compression-molded EVA slab in the midsole leaves you with a plush but springy feeling underfoot. Within the midsole you’ll find an early-stage meta-rocker, which also takes pressure off your knees. It creates momentum when you walk, reducing the amount of work that your own joints and muscles have to do.

It is also a supportive and structured shoe, sporting TPU overlays on the upper for midfoot support and an internal heel counter to lock your foot in and prevent any extra movement within the shoe.

The open-engineered mesh upper is breathable, although some may find that it’s too thick and causes their feet to overheat. For comfort, the ankle collar is made of memory foam.

Your knees will also remain safe on all surfaces, thanks to the traction provided by the durable rubber outsole.

PROS:

  • Open-engineered mesh upper
  • TPU overlays for support
  • Full-length compression-molded EVA cushioning
  • Memory foam ankle collar

CONS:

  • Some people may find the upper to be to thick, which could make their feet too warm
 

Best for Wide Feet

2. Saucony Echelon Walker 3

If you have wide feet, you may find that you struggle to get shoes that fit you comfortably. The Saucony Echelon is available in regular, wide, and extra wide so no matter how wide your foot is, you should be able to find a good fit.

It also has the wide toe box that Sauconys are known for, which allows the toes to splay. Every part of the foot should have enough space to be comfortable.

The Echelon has a full-grain leather and synthetic upper which provides more stability and durability than mesh. Flat laces reduce pressure points on the top of the foot and also allow for a tighter fit.

The PWRRUN midsole offers stable and balanced cushioning that absorbs impact and reduces the pain in your knees. A Walk-Trac slip-resistant outsole supports you on unstable surfaces, stopping you from accidentally slipping and hurting your knees more.

PROS:

  • Full-grain leather upper
  • PWRRUN midsole cushioning
  • Walk-Trac slip-resistant outsole
  • Flat laces

CONS:

  • This shoe may be less breathable than others due to the leather upper
 

Best For High Arches

3. ASICS GEL-NIMBUS 23

Walkers who have high arches need strong arch support to keep their feet properly supported throughout their walk.

The ASICS Gel-Nimbus 23 is a neutral shoe that is designed for normal to high arches. It has a mesh upper for ventilation and synthetic overlays to provide structural support in the midfoot. A unique lacing system with staggered eyelets helps to disperse pressure and allows one to get a customized fit.

Your high arches will be supported by SpevaFoam 45 lasting. This is a full-length 45-degree foam wedge in the last. The FlyteFoam Lyte midsole is made of organic nanofibers. These don’t become compressed as easily as others so the midsole lasts longer before becoming flattened. The foam is lightweight and offers both softness and responsiveness.

A Heel Clutching System has an external heel counter which helps keep the heel locked in. To further reduce unnecessary movement of the foot, ASICS uses a Guidance Trusstic System. This is a resin used in the midfoot to provide structure and stability and prevent twisting movements of the shoe and foot.

A GEL cushioning system is present in the rearfoot. Its purpose is to reduce shock and absorb vibration, protecting the joints above it from jarring. On the outsole, AHAR rubber also reduces vibration while maintaining good traction on almost all surfaces.

There is also 3mm more foam on the women’s version of this shoe, to cater for a women’s foot and gait.

PROS:

  • Flytefoam midsole technology
  • Rearfoot Gel technology
  • Heel Clutching System
  • Guidance Trusstic System

CONS:

  • Some people may find that the soles are not as durable as some other shoes
 

Best Stability

4. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21

Wearing the wrong shoes can be a common cause of knee pain, especially for individuals who overpronate—have flat feet or roll their feet inwards when they walk. Overpronators need a stable shoe to keep their foot in a neutral position and prevent rolling when they walk.

The Brooks Adrenaline GTS features GuideRail support system, which is two external supports—one on the medial side and one on the lateral side of the shoe—just above the outsole. These prevent the foot from moving side to side when running, taking pressure off the knees.

An updated mesh upper has 3D-print overlays to add extra support and structure to the midfoot.

In the midsole, both BioMoGo and DNA Loft foam are used. This offers the best combination of soft and shock-absorbing cushion and responsive energy return. There’s also a lightly cushioned foam insole which is removable.

To absorb even more shock, a full-length Crash Pad on the outsole reduces vibrations and assists with a smoother heel-to-toe transition. Blown rubber in the forefoot helps one to maintain control and confidence on a variety of surfaces.

Some people may feel that the 12mm heel drop is too much and it may be uncomfortable for some.

PROS:

  • GuideRails support system
  • BioMoGo DNA and DNA Loft midsole cushioning
  • Full-length, segmented Crash Pad

CONS:

  • Some may find the 12mm heel-to-toe drop to be too high
 

Best Comfort Shoe

5. Brooks Glycerin 19

If you soft, plush, super comfortable shoe, then the Brooks Glycerin could be the right walking shoe for you. It is a neutral shoe with maximal cushioning, as well as a premium OrthoLite sockliner to keep your feet comfortable.

DNA LOFT soft cushion runs along the full length of the shoe. Whether you’re a heel striker or a forefoot striker, you will feel the benefit of this light and responsive midsole foam. Not only is it plush and soft, but it also offers increased shock-absorption and joint protection.

The plush midsole loses some energy return. But for walking that shouldn’t be very noticeable. It could even handle light jogs, but it won’t be suitable for faster runs.

In the upper, breathable mesh is complemented by 3D Fit Print overlays for structure and a gusseted tongue.

Those who have worn a previous version of the Glycerin may find that the outsole is not as thick and durable as it was on previous iterations.

PROS:

  • 3D Fit Print technology
  • Full-length DNA LOFT cushioning
  • OrthoLite sockliner
  • Gusseted tongue

CONS:

  • The outsole is not as thick and durable as previous iterations of the Glycerin
 

Best Cushion

6. New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11

New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11 is a plush and luxurious shoe that will make you feel as though you’re walking on clouds. The full-length Fresh Foam X midsole is lightweight but soft.

The upper is plush too. It’s stretchy and soft against the skin. A bootie-style construction hugs the foot and moves with you. The comfort is high, but this may not be supportive enough to lock the foot into place.

The shoe sports an Ultra Heel, which has been 3D-designed to cup the heel and provide support. There is very little padding on the heel, and it does a good job of preventing lateral movement. But there have been reports of vertical heel slippage. The traditional lacing system provides more stability but doesn’t lock the heel down entirely.

If you are walking at a slow pace, the heel slippage may not be a problem. The cushioning will still absorb shock and ease stress on your joints.

PROS:

  • Fresh Foam X midsole cushioning
  • 3D heel designed
  • Bootie-style upper
  • Laser engraving on outsole

CONS:

  • Some people may find the heel cup to be too low which may lead to some heel slippage
 

Best Leather

7. Hoka One Bondi SR

Leather shoes add extra stability, lock the foot into the shoe and also look smart. These leather versions of our top pick – the Hoka Bondi – are great for walking or even wearing to work.

The Hoka One One Bondi SR sports the maximal cushioning that Hoka One One is known for. The EVA midsole is full-length and also features an early-stage meta-rocker which provides momentum that makes walking feel easy and fun. The pressure on the knees is reduced as the muscles and joints have less work to do thanks to the momentum of the meta-rocker.

The full-grain leather upper is water-resistant and also has a slip-resistant, read-textured outsole. The grip has been tested on a number of surfaces, including water, oil, and soap.

The shoe is approved for all-day wear in the medical field and service jobs without adding strain to the knees.

PROS:

  • Full-grain leather upper
  • Full-length EVA midsole
  • Slip-resistant rubber outsole
  • Water-resistant

CONS:

  • Some people may find that these shoes feel heavy on their feet
 

Best Lightweight Shoe

8. Hoka One Clifton L Suede

If you like leather but the Bondi SR is too heavy for you, then you may want to consider the Hoka One One Clifton L Suede. This is an all-gender, neutral shoe that weighs just 8.6oz. It has a reflective element on the suede upper for safety.

The shoe features the usual plush Hoka cushioning, with a wide toe box for comfort from heel to toe. A full EVA compression-molded midsole with an early-stage meta-rocker offers both cushion and easy movement, easing knee pain.

The no-sew SpeedFrame design adds support to the foot. A full-ground contact design and specially placed rubber elements on the outsole increase the shoe’s durability.

PROS:

  • A neutral last
  • Compression-molded EVA midsole
  • 3M reflective stripe on suede upper
  • Early-stage meta-rocker

CONS:

  • There are limited color options
 

Best Casual Shoes

9. Hoka One One Clifton L

The Hoka One One Clifton L is available in black and white. Both of these look smart but can also be used as a casual shoe. The sandwich mesh upper has leather overlays to provide support to the midfoot while still being breathable.

A large stack height is normal for Hoka shoes, and offers softness and shock-absorbing properties. Your knees won’t be as jarred as they might in any other pair of shoes. The EVA midsole and meta-rocker work together to provide padding and an easy walking style.

One will also find that it’s easy to walk on a variety of surfaces with these shoes. Strategically-designed rubber outsoles have specially placed sections of rubber in areas of the shoe that wear out faster. This helps to increase the durability of the shoe.

PROS:

  • Mesh upper with leather overlays
  • Design for full-ground contact
  • Padded tongue and collar
  • Sculpted outsole

CONS:

  • These shoes may run slightly small and you should order a size larger
 

Best For Recovery

10. Hoka One Elevon 2

Recovery is as important as training. The Elevon 2 is the ideal shoe for recovery runs, as it’s lightweight—10oz for the men’s and 8.5oz for the women’s—and has enough cushioning to be comfortable and absorb shock every time you take a step.

Your knees will be less jarred and less painful. The external heel helps with better transitions and offers a larger and stable shoe platform. Hoka’s PROFLY midsole is responsive but still comfortable.

Support wings and a Deep Active Foot Frame offer extra support. This will help your feet to stay in alignment, preventing pain in the knees as a result of misalignment.

PROS:

  • Support wings
  • With Deep Active Foot Frame
  • Top layer PROFLY midsole
  • Extended heel

CONS:

  • Some people may find that the split tongue is stiff and rubs against the top of the ankle
 

Best Breathable Shoe

11. Mizuno Wave Rider 24 Waveknit

If you walk in a hot climate, then you will need a breathable shoe. The Mizuno Wave Rider 24 WaveKnit upper is breathable and airy despite being thick. It also has a sock-like fit for comfort.

The U4ic midsole absorbs shock without adding extra weight to the shoe. Enerzy foam technology helps the midsole to be durable and soft. You will also find Wave technology in the midsole. A Wave Plate does the same thing as a meta-rocker, reducing leg and knee fatigue.

On the outsole, an X10 carbon rubber outsole provides traction and durability. This shoe can run small so one should order a larger size.

PROS:

  • WaveKnit upper
  • Mizuno Enerzy foam technology
  • U4ic midsole
  • X10 carbon rubber outsole

CONS:

  • This shoe can run small and you may have to order a size bigger
 

FAQs

What injuries can cause knee pain?

A variety of different running injuries can leave one with pain in the knee. These include injuries to the ACL—anterior cruciate ligament—fractures to the knee or other leg bones, a torn meniscus, knee bursitis, and patellar tendonitis.

How can I prevent knee pain?

There are a number of steps one can take to prevent knee pain. Shedding extra pounds and keeping them off will avoid placing extra strain on your joints.

Engaging in a form of cross-training such as weight lifting or CrossFit will help one to gain strength, and yoga or dynamic stretching increases flexibility. Improving both of these can help to prevent knee pain.

You should also take care to walk, run or do other sports with proper form. Work on getting your technique right so that there’s no extra pressure or stress placed on joints.

What features are important in walking shoes?

When shopping for walking shoes—especially if one has bad knees—the following factors should be considered.

The cushioning in the shoes should be comfortable to walk on and absorb shock, so that your knees receive less jarring impact. Those who overpronate or need extra support should look at getting a stability shoe or a guidance shoe.

A wide toe box will give the toes space to spread out naturally, which can help to provide better grip and a more stable platform. The outsole should have good traction on a variety of different surfaces so that there’s less chance of slipping and injuring the knee again.

The Wired Runner