A well-cushioned and stable running shoe is the best option for those with bad knees. A substantial cushion will provide comfort, and absorb shock for the runner as their feet hit the pavement during a race. After carefully reviewing and discussing several running shoes, we have chosen the best ten running shoes for people with bad knees. The ASICS GEL Kayano 24 is our top pick because it’s designed to adapt to the unique landing of each runner. The secret of this shoe is in its outstanding heel padding for shock absorption. There are numerous exciting running shoes designed for people with bad knees, and they all come with their own distinctive features and characteristics.
ASICS GEL Kayano 24
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Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16
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HOKA ONE ONE Bondi 6
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How to Choose the Best Running Shoes for Bad Knees
Buying running shoes can be confusing if you’re not sure what to look for, or where to begin. If you notice any problems with your knees, the first thing you should do is determine the cause of the problem. Your doctor can help you to determine the cause of your knee pain. However, something as trivial as wearing the wrong shoes can be the cause. If your knee pain is as a result of your running, some running shoes can help you deal with, reduce, or eliminate the pain. Continue reading to find out what you should look for in a running shoe if you have bad knees.
- The Fit
- The Insole
- The Midsole
- The Outsole
This applies to running shoes in general, even for those without bad knees. If your shoe does not fit your feet properly then it will be very difficult to achieve the level of comfort and stability for your knees. If a shoe is too large, then you will be lacking in balance, and you’ll be more likely to trip as your run. On the other hand, if the shoe is too tight, they won’t feel comfortable, and this can even lead to foot injuries. You may also like the best rated running shorts for men reviews
The insole exists to add comfort and to give a good fit. They also play a vital role in shock absorption. The insole lessens the impact of your feet slamming against the ground. Insoles are made from different materials, with many options to choose from. We suggest that you choose a shoe with the proper type of cushioning your feet require.
Not all running shoes come with distinguishable midsoles. However, running shoes for bad knees should have a soft and plush midsole that will add to the comfort of the shoe. Midsoles are made from various materials, and each manufacturer looks for the best midsole formula. For a running shoe to absorb shock and provide adequate support, it should have a good midsole material. Most midsoles are made from different kinds of plastics that act like foam or rubber. So make sure that your midsoles are flexible.
The support and protection needed by bad knees generate from the sole and travel all the way up to the knee. A good outsole should have a reasonable level of padding that will soften the impact as your feet land while running. Thin soles are not advisable for people who have knee issues. In addition to softening the landing as you run, a good outsole will absorb some of the shocks that may otherwise affect your knees.
Whether you are healing from a knee injury or trying to prevent knee problems while running, your shoes should be able to offer you the proper support. Your risk of stumbling and injuring your knees is greater if you have poor support from your shoes. Don’t wear shoes that don’t give you the right support. For example, Converse are the best shoes for jumping rope but are not good to wear on a day to day basis. Otherwise, you are more susceptible to knee pain and injury. Another common injury is plantar fasciitis, which we wrote another post on the best running shoes for plantar fasciitis.
The performance of running shoes on different surfaces are likely to vary. Depending on the surface a runner will be running on, shoes with proper traction for that surface should be chosen. For example, think about where you run. Do you run on pavement, a dirt road, a grassy field, an outdoor or indoor track? To avoid further knee-injury, make sure you choose running shoes with the appropriate traction for the corresponding terrain.
10 Best Running Shoes for Bad Knees Review
1. ASICS GEL Kayano 24 Running Shoes – Best Overall
If you have knee issues and you still want to run, or if you want to avoid knee problems, we recommend the ASICS GEL Kayano 24 running shoes. These shoes will give you stability and comfort to improve running efficiency and decrease the risk of injury. Just like the Kayano 23, Kayano 24 comes with gel in the heel. It also has dynamic duomax cushioning, which soaks up shock and controls overpronation. The unique FlyteFoam is also used in the construction of the shoes, which provides a more adaptive cushioning.
The upper is made with the seamless Fluidfit material that fits perfectly and conforms easily to the shape of your foot. Your heel will remain in place in this shoe during any race. The heel comes with a large exoskeleton clutching system, that prevents it from moving when you run. The toe box is a little tight. However, there has been a considerable improvement when compared to the toe box of the 23. As one of the most stable running shoes on the market, the Kayano 24 will give you all the shock absorption and support you need to prevent knee problems.
Features: Fluid Fit Upper, Heel Clutching System Technology
- Excellent Cushioning
- Suitable for long-distance running
- Fits perfectly
- The toe box is a bit tight; however, it is more spacious than that of the Kayano 23
2. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16 Running Shoe -Best For Flat Feet
The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16 running shoe is one of the most popular Brooks running shoes. The GTS means “go-to shoes,” which is a fitting title because we can confidently tell you that shoe is worth checking out to prevent any complications of an existing knee injury. The outsole features segments in construction that Brooks termed “Full-Length Segmented Crash Pad.” These shoes adapt to your landing and help you achieve good ground-contact so that your knees experience no shock.
Knee issues are commonly found in people who have flat feet. The sole under the toe box of these shoes is thinner than under other parts of the shoes. This is to prevent knee-injuries. This also helps to keep your foot constantly aligned while running. Under the arch, a little TPU shank is included to provide torsional stability. The heel is excellently padded and includes a counter to make keep it rigid. With its low arch, stability, and fit, the Adrenaline 16 is one of the best running shoes for people with flat feet.
Features: DNA LOFT Cushioning, Full-Length Segmented Crash Pad, BioMoGo DNA Foam
- Good shoe for runners with flat feet
- Very stable
- The shoe doesn’t flex unnecessarily
- You may have to order half a size up because of the snug fit
3. Asics 20 Gel Nimbus Running Shoe – Most Stable
This shoe is great for running trails. It will protect and support your knees. The ASICS 20 Gel Nimbus comes with a unique design and excellent cushioning. Knee pain should not hinder you from trail running; with a shoe like this, you will be able to run well on different terrains with very little shock spreading to your knees. The popular Flytefoam is used for the entire midsole, making the shoe resilient. In addition to being a heavy shoe, it is also very stable.
In previous versions, there have been complaints from customers about the narrow toe box. In this shoe, a gradient mesh is used for the upper. This provides some additional comfort for the forefoot. The gradient mesh is very breathable and is quick-drying for runs in the rain or through puddles. The shoe is made with soft materials for ultimate comfort. Although the material is soft, it offers appropriate strength and firmness for running. On the exterior of the heel cup is a thermoplastic part that gives cushioned landings.
Features: FlyteFoam Technology, FluidRide Midsole
- Improved forefoot fit
- Strong stability
- Versatile traction, for multiple terrains
- The shoe is a bit heavy (this adds to the stability though)
4. Brooks Glycerin 17 Running Shoe – Most Comfortable
Max cushioned shoes have become very popular, not only among people with knee problems but among runners in general. This is a result of the comfort and stability they offer. The midsole is made from the unique and patented DNA loft foam. This creates a very soft, light, and responsive shoe. As soft as the DNA Loft Foam is, it is also very durable.
If you’re a heel striker, the HPR Plus rubber outsole will absorb the impact as your feet land, making racing more comfortable. The shoe may not be able to survive some rugged terrains; nonetheless, it will give you the cushion and support your knee desires. The upper features a dual-layer mesh to ensure breathability and support. The dual-layer mesh is also designed to dry quickly.
Features: DNA LOFT Transition zone, DNA LOFT Cushioning, HPR Plus Rubber Outsole
- True to size
- Impressive traction
- Very good fit
- The dual mesh layer may retain moisture, but it dries quickly
5. Salomon Speedcross 4 Trail Running Shoe Best For Trail Running.- Best For Trail Running
In addition to providing the comfort and shock absorption, the Salomon Speedcross 4 Trail Running Shoe can run on the roughest of terrains. An 11mm heel drop, combined with strong chevron-shaped lugs, provides incredible traction and stability for the runner on various terrains. The traction pattern is designed to have ground contact at all times, and together with the rubber outsole, providing better grip on surfaces.
Some innovative technologies are among the things this shoe has to offer. The Sensifit technology provides a snug and conforming fit, while the Contagrip technology reduces the negative effect of rugged terrains on the knees and other body parts. If you have knee issues, and would still love to go on some trail running, the Speedcross 4 is one of your best options. It is an extremely durable product, so you will be getting your money’s worth.
Features: Aggressive Grip, Contagrip technology
- Suitable for different terrains
- Very durable shoe
- If you have wide feet, you should consider a shoe with a wider toe box
6. Nike Revolution 4 Running Shoe
In all fairness, this is not the most exquisite running shoe out there. Nonetheless, it can provide the support and stability needed for bad knees. Nike’s phylon foam is used in the construction of the sole, which provides a durable run, be it on a trail, track, or even a treadmill. The sole is also quite durable, ensuring that it won’t easily deteriorate. The shoe is designed with contoured circles that stick under the toe bed and heel. These contour circles are designed to reduce pressure in the high-pressure areas of the foot.
The hard rubber used for the outsole offers more durability than some more expensive shoes, the only downside is that it makes some noise on concrete. The front part of the upper features a very breathable mesh that seamlessly wraps into the toe of the sole. The other part of the upper is constructed using a finer mesh with heat-formed overlays. If your budget is not so buoyant and you need a running shoe that can support/protect your knees, this is a suitable one for you.
Features: Full-length Rubber Outsole, Single-layer Mesh, Soft Foam Midsole
- The shoe is reasonably priced
- Long-lasting durability
- Good traction and cushioning
- Heel counter will weaken over time (It will take longer to weaken if you have more than a pair)
7. Hoka One One Bondi 6 Running Shoe – Best For Long Distance
Another running shoe to consider in preventing or managing knee issues is the Hoka One One Bondi 6 running shoe. The shoe is a great improvement from the Bondi 5. The cushioning has been increased to reduce firmness. If you experience knee pain, you need a running shoe that can give you stability and shock absorption. the Bondi 6 has a wide base, giving it stability on different surfaces. The outsole is designed with a higher abrasion rubber which is placed along the lateral side. In the midsole, EVA foam is used to provide strong shock absorption.
Even though the shoe has a soft feel, it is still very sturdy. The rockered geometry gives a kind of ruggedness to the shoe. The upper has a soft mesh, which features a number of cutouts to improve breathability. The mesh is also extremely absorbent, so sweat and water will get mopped away from your feet, and prevent you from slipping. The use of lycra in the heel area of the upper increases comfort and gives the shoe a luxurious feel.
Features: Full EVA Midsole, Early Stage Meta-Rocker Geometry
- Mesh Upper is breathable
- Lycra heel provides excellent comfort
- Numerous color options to choose from
- Some people may not like the absorbent mesh upper (a lot of people do, however)
8. Mizuno Wave Rider 20 Running Shoe
This is a surprisingly lightweight running shoe that can provide stability and support for your knees as you run. For all its amazing features, the Mizuno Wave Rider 20 is reasonably priced. The sole is made with the innovative cloud wave technology, which provides the wearer with a softer cushion. The midsole is designed to be energy-efficient, making the shoe ito be very responsive. In order to protect the knee, a running shoe should offer a certain level of grip. This shoe comes with a very decent grip that works well on even wet surfaces.
As soft as the shoe is, you can expect mild firmness. This firmness further increases responsiveness. The upper is made with a triple mesh design that ensures breathability while protecting the leg from water. Furthermore, the heel area is designed to perfectly secure the feet. The toes box is not too wide, nor is it too narrow, it has just enough space for your toes to flex and remain comfortable during your run. The stability and comfort this shoe offers are what you need to keep your knees in good condition.
Features: Triple Zone Engineered Mesh Upper, U4IC Midsole Foam, Cloud Wave Sole
- The shoe is light-weight
- It is not porous
- Strong responsiveness
- You may find it uncomfortable for long distances, but it is perfect for short-medium distance
9. New Balance 1080v9 Running Shoe – Best Responsiveness
Many customers have had complaints about the firmness of the V8. New Balance took these complaints seriously and made the required improvements in the 1080v9. The underfoot cushion is now thicker, giving the shoe the stability and comfort needed by people with knee issues. A higher level of the fresh foam midsole material is included together with an increase of the laser engravings. This is located on the outside of the midsole to soften your landing. While some people may think that the inclusion of these new features may affect the responsiveness, that is not the case. The shoe maintains responsivity while running.
Blown rubber is used for the outsole to increase durability, reduce weight, and improve traction. The outsole has also been designed to offer good gripping on a number of surfaces. The toe box is very roomy, so this shoe is great for runners with wide feet. The use of engineered mesh and fantom fit provides a very comfortable upper that offers support through the midfoot and improves breathability. The overall foot-supporting design of the shoe makes it one of the best for people with knee pain.
Features: Fantom Fit Upper, Blown Rubber Outsole
- Wide toe box
- Sole offers good grip on different surfaces
- The shoe is very responsive
- Very breathable
- You will need to tie the shoes properly to keep your heel in place
10. Hoka One One Clifton 6 Running Shoe
If what you need is a lightweight shoe to support and protect your knee, then the Hoka One One Clifton 6 should be on your list. The midsole is made from EVA foam, which is quite plush full of compression. This is one of the features that give the shoe the soft and smooth ride it is known for. While the outsole is made from the same material as the midsole, high abrasion lightweight rubber is used on the outsoles as points of contact. The outsole is durable enough to last you several runs without wearing out.
The aesthetics of this shoe are not at the top of this list. However, the manufacturers compensate for this with the functionality of the shoe. The upper is made from a newly engineered mesh material that allows more airflow through the shoe. This material is softer than the one used in previous versions of the Clifton. Also, the toe box is considerably wider than previous models.
Features: Engineered Mesh Upper, Reinforced Eye Stays, Full Compression EVA foam
- Quite durable
- Excellent cushioning
- The shoe rides smoothly
- Suitable for wide feet
- It is not the best in terms of aesthetics; however, the functionality makes up for this
Final Thoughts on the Top ten Running Shoes for Bad Knees
Knee pain can be very frustrating, especially for those of us who love to run. There may be no underlying medical condition causing your knee issues. It may be in the shoes you’ve chosen. The running shoes on this list are designed to absorb shock that would otherwise negatively affect your knees. You can make an informed choice based on your personal preference when deciding on your next pair of running shoes.
If stability is what you really want, the Asics 20 Gel Nimbus is a perfect option for you. If you need a highly supportive running shoe that can run on trails, then you should get the Salomon Speedcross 4. To prevent fresh injuries and protect existing ones, you should get a good running shoe that has all the right features to keep your knees in good condition as you run. You may also like our recent article on the best running shoes for beginners.