A common complaint among runners who run on roads is knee pain. Running too often, incorrect form, overtraining, or pre-existing injuries are all factors that can contribute to knee pain. When it comes to running, we often don’t give enough attention to selecting the right shoe. In this post, we look at the best running shoes for bad knees. The wrong shoe can cause knee pain, and this can lead to permanent damage down the road.
Running is a great form of exercise that can improve both physical and mental health and build muscle while improving cardiovascular health. Running demands a lot from the body due to It being a high-impact activity causing our momentum to generate a force equal to 4 or 5 times our body weight. Each time your feet hit the ground your feet, ankles, knees, and spine all absorb this force. You can help avoid potential joint injury and pain by choosing the correct running shoes.
Our top choice is the Brooks Men’s Ghost 13 Running Shoes and these are also available for women.
These running shoes offer high energy cushioning and support whilst being soft and smooth. They feel responsive and are as light as ever.
A Spotlight On Some of The Best Running Shoes For Bad Knees 2022:
Brooks Men’s Ghost 13
The Ghost 13 by Brooks is a great running shoe and one of the best running shoes for bad knees. There are plenty of options in terms of color, plus they also do a women’s Ghost 13. These are ideal for any runner looking for a running shoe that is soft smooth and reliable because you will be able to focus on your run without distractions due to improved transitions. In addition, the Brooks Ghost 13 is a PDCA A5500 certified diabetic shoe, which was granted the APMA Seal of Acceptance.
The high energising neutral support type cushioning in this shoe makes it ideal for road running, gym workouts, and cross-training. These shoes are appropriate for wearing anywhere. For added comfort, the Ghost 13 features DNA LOFT and BioMoGo DNA cushioning. Together these provide a top level of comfort under foot while retaining sturdiness and sensitivity. A high amount of cushioning can lead to a heavy feeling running shoe from cheaper brands, but the Brooks Ghost 13 is as light as ever.
This shoe contains an integrated structure of shock absorbers. Brooks calls it their Segmented Crash Pad. This ensures that even when your foot lands on the heavy side every step is supported and cushioned.
Your heel-to-toe transitions will be silky smooth with every step you take. These shoes will fit like a glove with Brooks Ghost 13 freshly engineered mesh.
The Ghost 13 is a comfortable neutral trainer for daily use. It gives a stable and smooth ride transformation. Its key feature is its comfortable upper which has been upgraded with Air Mesh for increased breathability and a cooler run. If you are after a stiff shoe then this isn’t for you, you would find it too flexible. All in all a great running shoe.
- Very comfortable
- Just the right amount of bounce
- Good arch support
- The outer mesh is very breathable and cool therefore great for summer
- The padded heel cup lands your heel perfectly and softly
- The tongues protrude at the top a lot more than the older Ghosts versions,
Adidas UltraBoost 21
Some might argue that previous Ultraboost shoes were not really running shoes, not in the strictest sense at least. Instead, these sneakers were designed to be worn all day, every day, making them more of an an all-arounder sneaker, a jack of all trades master of none type of thing. The Ultraboost 21 steps up (pun intended) to become a little more serious in terms of running performance and while I agree that it has discarded at least some of its sneaker attributes, I am not convinced it has gone far enough.
Since the earlier versions, changes have been made to the upper, midsole, and outsole. The Primeknit upper fits like a sock and is very accommodating for most varieties of foot shapes and sizes. For me I felt I wanted more support though, I didn’t feel as locked down as I am used to.
Even though these shoes are a little less cushioned than previous models, the midsole is still amazingly comfortable. The running action feels that little bit more controlled. The Ulraboost 21 has thankfully lost some of its everyday wear sneaker qualities and has become more of a serious running shoe. I still don’t think it’s gone far enough, but this review is about the best running shoes for bad knees, and in that sense, it belongs on our list.
The Stretchweb outsole flexes naturally for an energetic ride whilst the Continental Rubber gives your feet great grip and that’s good however these wouldn’t be our top choice for an out-and-out running shoe. They lie on the heavy side and a bit chunky. They are still amazingly comfortable though and as such deserve a place on this list.
- Very comfortable
- good traction
- sock-like fit
- Great midfoot lockdown
- Slightly heavy
Hoka One One Clifton 8
The Hoka Clifton running shoe line has always been a good choice for logging miles on the road. They were never the best option for sprints and intervals, and the new Clifton 8 is no exception. If you want a long-lasting running shoe that is comfortable to wear on the road, this newest addition to the Hoka One One family may be the best version of this HOKA model yet.
If you’ve ever worn the older Clifton 7s, you’ll notice that this shoe has a slimmer shape. The upper has also been altered significantly, with a noticeable increase in mesh venting, making the shoes appear and feel more breathable. Hoka also improved the midsole on the new Clifton 8, and the new EVA foam compound makes these shoes feel more responsive and lighter. Hoka claims that this shoe is 15% lighter than the previous version.
When you first put these on, they may feel a little thicker on your feet. Don’t get me wrong, they’re comfortable, but if you like the hugging ‘fits like a sock’ sensation, you might be disappointed. This is a good thing in my opinion because these shoes strike the right balance between cushioning and softness while remaining responsive enough to propel you forward. This is aided by the updated midsole, which makes each step more bouncy and lighter.
These shoes are built for road mileage and as such have a high abrasion outsole. After miles of use, the soles will still look good.Overall, I believe you will not be disappointed if you purchase a pair of Clifton 8’s, and if you intend to do a lot of road running, these are one of the best running shoes for bad knees. They may appear heavy, but they are surprisingly light at only 7.5 oz. for a women’s size 8 shoe, and they strike the perfect balance of responsiveness, cushioning, and support.
- Very very comfortable
- Good support
- Grippy outsole
- Very durable sole thus long wearing
- The Tongue is a bit thick
- Not for sprint work
New Balance Women’s Fresh Foam 1080
The manufacturer states that the Fresh Foam 1080v11 provides luxurious comfort consequently long distances are a breeze. There is a cushion underfoot in the women’s running shoe, and it is soft and plush. Fresh Foam combines with a selectively stretchy knit upper therefore providing full comfort for long distances. The Ultra Heel technology helps hug the back of the foot for a snug, supportive fit and you’ll feel it in every stride.
Let’s start with the flexible uppers, which are great because they conform to the shape of your foot, move with you rather than against you, and are light and breathable. The New Balance 1080v11 takes things too far. This shoe looks cool, feels light in your hands, but the upper is just way too flexible, and the heel counter has slip issues that need to be resolved.
The shoe is extremely comfortable, but in this case, that comfort comes at a cost. The upper is simply too pliable, the soft material on the ankle does not keep your heel in place, and the springy midsole is a little too unstable. If this shoe was only intended for comfort, it would receive a top 5 rating, however, it is intended for running, and it falls short in this regard. If you run only in straight lines and avoid uneven terrain then you might like these shoes a lot but try and turn aggressively and those super comfy uppers will let you down.
The Fresh Foam midsole gives you everything you want in an everyday training shoe because it’s lightweight and doesn’t sacrificing softness, which gives a responsive ride that feels lively on the road.
The New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 is a daily running shoe that prioritises comfort therefore if comfort is your main priority then these might be a good fit (pun intended). Its grip and surprisingly light weight are where it really shines. The grip is flawless, and will keep you steady on wet, icy, or any other low grip surfaces. Remember this post is about the best running shoes for bad knees and in that respect these are a great choice, but you need to think about where and how you run before buying.
- Super comfortable
- lightweight and easy to wear for long durations
- Awesome grip therefore good in the wet
- Very breathable and cool
- Great Cushioning
- Too flexible therefore limiting on some terrain
- Impressive breathability therefore poor on cold days
ASICS Men’s Gel-Kayano 27
The Kayano is now enjoying its 27th edition and is ASICS finest running shoe. Fans of the bran will tell you that these shoes offer unparalleled comfort. They might seem pricey but their durability makes buying these economic sense.
The Kayano is a premium stability running shoe therefore ideal for those with overpronation (excessive inwards rolling of your foot). Even though its a stability shoe the Kayano 27 is sumptuous and extremely comfortable. It is a well balanced shoe offering a very stable run regardless of pace or distance.
There is possibly one drawback and thats the weight of this shoe but you know what? Everything else is so damn good you won’t care.
In comparison to the Kayano 26, there have been some enhancements. More stability, perfect foot lock, incredible traction, gender-specific midfoot support, extremely durable, more flexibility, and a premium feel.
It was Kayano 25’s that first used Flytefoam Lyte and Flytefoam Propel. The bottom of the midsole is made of Flytefoam Lyte and is firmer than the Propel. This layer provides a stable foundation throughout your stride. The upper layer of the midsole is made from Flytefoam Propel which adds both cushioning and bounce resulting in both comfort and aids pushing off the road.
It’ll be difficult to find a more grippy running shoe than the Kayano 27. You can rely on the grip provided by these shoes in both wet and dry conditions.
Some people have mentioned that these shoes are on the narrow side therefore for anyone who has wide feet go for the wider versions. Should you buy a pair? If you like your running shoes to have a premium feel inside and out, and you want possible the best grip a running shoe can give coupled with high durability them yes, yes you should.
- Luxurious and comfortable
- Awesome traction
- Great Stability
- Extremely durable
- Fells super locked in
Best Running Shoes For Bad Knees
So how exactly do you go about buying the Best Running Shoes For Bad Knees? First of all always check out the returns policy. Sometimes a retailer will offer a risk free trial, some will only give you 50% back should you return them, therefore do your due diligence.
The Anatomy of a Running Shoe & What to Look For
To start with it’s a good idea to understand what each part of the shoe is and what it does. Not all running shoes are the same, and depending on what sort of running you intend to do will make a difference to the running shoe you ultimately go for.
The upper is the part of the shoe that covers the top of your foot. It will most often be made of engineered mesh that feels snug but not tight on your foot. The mesh provides both strength and flexibility giving an almost sock like feel. Make sure it doesn’t feel to tight, and think about how breathable it is.
This is to protect your feet form the laces which would otherwise dig in. The tongue can be gusseted or burrito. The difference is that a burrito style tongue connects at only one side and a gusseted tongue connects both sides. The gusseted fits better around the foot but the burrito is easier to get on and off.
The toe box is at the very end of the shoe and its job is to protect your toes. Ensure it allows room for your toes to spread a little, if it is too tight your toes might rub and blister.
This can be made form fabric or plastic and its job is to both cradle and offer side to side heel support. The Heel counter can be internal or external. Just make sure your ankle moves freely without restriction.
This is the padding around the opening of the shoe, it stops your heel from slipping out. It isn’t always padded sometimes it’s just the shape that does the job. You want to make sure your foot doesn’t feel like its slipping out. Depending on the shape and size of your foot some heel with padding can press uncomfortably against either your ankle or your achilles.
This is the bit that is in contact with the road and provides cushioning and traction. A mixture of a foam upper layer and rubber lower gives you the bounce and grip you need. Look out for how much outsole there is and how heavy it is. You want the comfort and support but the shoe should still be light.
The part of the running shoe between the upper and the outsole. This is usually some sort of foam designed to protect against impact by cushioning your foot. How much cushioning you want is a personal thing but it shouldn’t feel to hard or too soft. To much cushioning and your shoes will lose responsiveness and once again consider any excess weight.
Midsole material can also be used to add cushioning to the heel and forefoot area. This will make a difference to how the shoe feels when you run. Your running shoes should feel responisive, as your foot goes down to the road it should naturally move smoothly, rolling into the next stride in a way that feel right.
The drop of a running shoe is the height difference between the pad of your forefoot and your heel. A bigger drop means the angel between your forefoot and heel is steeper. What you need to look for is a drop that suits your natural stride. Getting this wrong can result in injuries over time because it will force you to adopt an unusually stride therefore putting stress on muscles and joints.
As a general rule (this is not an exact science) runners whose forefoot or midfoot hit the ground first may be suited to a drop of 6mm or less.
If your heel strikes the ground firs, and this applies to most runners then a drop of 6mm and higher would be more suited.
Good stores that sell quality running shoes will have equipment that analyse your gait, which should take the guess work out of choosing the correct drop.
Some runners suffer from something called over pronation. This is when there is excessive roll when the foot strikes the road. You can buy running shoes that are classed as a stability shoe and these are designed to correct over pronation. Stabilizing technology provides control and stability and can help runners maintain their preferred movement path even if they don’t over pronate.
Common Mistakes When Buying The Best Running Shoes For Bad Knees
Not asking for a deal – So you can’t really ask for a deal online however you can look for discount codes. In store you can ask and you will be surprised at how often there is a deal to be had especially if you belong to a running club. It doesn’t hurt to ask does it?
Being a slave to fashion – Yes we all want to look cool but as a serious runner you need to think about how the shoes feel on your feet and not how they look.
I’m an 8, I’m always an 8 – Some people think they are the same size in what ever shoe they buy. Different brands size slightly differently so be open minded about dropping or increasing half a size.
I like my shoes really snug – That slightly tight snug feeling might be ok if you wear your shoes in frequently and don’t go far in them but overly snug shoes will kill your feet on a long run. As a guide you should be able to wiggle your toes and they should definitely not be touching the end of the shoe.
I like superstores – Nope, you might get some real cheap running shoes and in this context I mean cheap as in quality and in price. Go to a speciality store to get measured properly and to get the support you need. They have experts that can guide you to the right shoe for you. As I mentioned above, you can still buy them online once you know what you want.
Time of day matters – Your feet swell during the day and at some point, usually later afternoon, will be as big as they are going to be. So it makes sense to get measured later afternoon or evening, but definitely not during the morning.
You now have the knowledge needed to buy the Best Running Shoes For Bad Knees. The number one tip I can give you is to try them on and see how they feel. Some stores have a treadmill so you can test drive them. You don’t have to buy them from the store, just try them out and if you can get them cheaper elsewhere do so. If you are going to be clocking up the miles then don’t by cheap shoes. They typically won’t be kind to your feet and won’t last very long either.
Please drop us a comment below and let us know what running shoes you like best, especially if you have bad knees, we would love to hear your thoughts.