The 11 Best Running Shoes for Bad Knees of 2023

Brooks Women's Adrenaline GTS 21 Running Shoes are cushioned and lightweight

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Graphic of running shoes on a pink background

Verywell / Sabrina Jiang

If you're experiencing knee pain while running, the culprit could be anything from your running form to your weekly schedule—and even what kind of surface you run on. But if you're confident that you've built a running routine that's easy on your body, then your shoes are likely to blame. Wearing the wrong type of running shoes (or wearing shoes that are worn out) can also lead to knee pain, either occasional or chronic.

Reviewed & Approved

Brooks Women's Adrenaline GTS 21 Running Shoes are our top overall pick because they feature soft cushioning to support heel to forefoot motion. We also recommend Saucony's Versafoam Cohesion 13, a lightweight, breathable, and budget-friendly pair.

When looking for a running shoe, “comfort is one of the best predictors of whether a shoe will work for someone or not,” Jack Hackett, head coach and founder of Infinity Running Company, says. A shoe should be supportive, "feel natural, and contour [to] your foot,” he adds. Hackett also advises looking at a shoe’s smoothness, noting that an even transition from landing to pushing off is essential to finding a shoe that will protect your joints and feel comfortable long-term. 

We researched dozens of running shoes for bad knees and evaluated them based on material, price, cushioning, style, and more. Below are our top picks: Sneakers that are lightweight, shock-absorbing, and supportive enough to help you run pain-free.

Best Women's Overall

Brooks Women's Adrenaline GTS 21 Running Shoes

4.9
Brooks Women's Adrenaline GTS 21

Brooks

Pros
  • Excellent cushioning

  • Comes in various widths and colors

  • Lightweight

Cons
  • Sizes run small

With its innovative stability features and ample cushioning, the Brooks Adrenaline GTS excels at shielding runners’ knees from injury, which is why we picked it as the best overall choice.

The latest version of the Adrenaline has soft, high-energizing cushioning that extends beyond the heel and all the way to the forefoot, giving you a smoother, supportive transition from heel to toe. Meanwhile, the GuideRails support system allows you to run comfortably without unnecessary movement, keeping your knees stable and protected. Finally, a streamlined, engineered mesh upper hugs the foot for a soft, secure fit without excess bulk. These shoes work well for runners, walkers, and anyone looking for an athletic shoe that can help ward off knee pain.

Price at time of publication: $130

Key Specs:
Materials: Rubber sole, mesh upper | Closure: Lace-up | Cushioning: DNA LOFT Crash Pad

Best Men's Overall

New Balance Men's 890v8 Running Shoes

New Balance Men's 890v8 Running Shoes

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Excellent cushioning

  • Flexible

  • Lightweight

Cons
  • Does not offer extra-wide sizes

New Balance makes it possible to enjoy exceptional stability and cushioning in a lightweight shoe with their sleek, streamlined 890.

With a modern design, these shoes are an ideal blend of performance and style. The shoe’s full-length FuelCell midsole provides high rebound and delivers energy return and propulsion, and the REVlite outsole delivers lightweight cushioning and a flexible response. And like most New Balance shoes, they are available in regular and wide sizes, so you can get an accurate fit.

Price at time of publication: $85

Key Specs:
Materials: Mesh upper, rubber sole | Closure: Lace-up | Cushioning: Ground Contact IMEVA

Best Budget for Women

Saucony Versafoam Cohesion 13

Saucony Versafoam Cohesion Running Shoes

 Zappos

Pros
  • Excellent shock absorption

  • Lightweight

  • Breathable

Cons
  • Doesn't offer extra-wide sizes

Saucony’s Versafoam Cohesion shoe is proof that you don’t have to shell out a ton of money for a high-quality, supportive shoe. Versarun cushioning technology assists with shock absorption and reduces impact pressure on your joints even when you’re running on roads and sidewalks. Yet the shoe remains lightweight and flexible, keeping you comfortable for miles, and the breathable, reinforced upper mesh keeps your feet dry and protected.

The Cohesion is a great option for casual runners, marathoners, and anyone looking for an affordable, supportive, and well-cushioned shoe for exercise.

Price at time of publication: $75

Key Specs:
Materials: Rubber sole, synthetic mesh upper | Closure: Lace-up | Cushioning: Versafoam

Best Budget for Men

ASICS Men's Gel-Venture 7 Trail Running Shoes

asics-gel-venture

Zappos

Pros
  • Excellent cushioning

  • Promotes smooth transitions

  • Durable

Cons
  • Laces are flimsy

Comfortable, supportive, and versatile, ASICS GEL-Venture running shoes are an excellent choice for men who want an affordable, well-cushioned running shoe. The shoes’ popular GEL cushioning system in the rearfoot and forefoot helps with shock absorption and allows for a smooth transition.

With a durable rubber outsole and trail-specific lugs, these shoes can be worn for trail running and hiking, but also work well for road running and even everyday wear.

Price at time of publication: $70

Key Specs:
Materials: Rubber sole, synthetic leather upper | Closure: Lace-up | Cushioning: Rearfoot GEL technology

Best Cushioned

Hoka Bondi 7 Running Shoe

4.5
Hoka Bondi 7 Running Shoe

Amazon

Pros
  • Excellent cushioning

  • Durable

  • Breathable

Cons
  • Doesn't offer various widths

These super-cushioned shoes aren’t the most stylish option, but with their thick and wide soles, they’re tough to beat in terms of comfort. The durable, full-length EVA midsole cushioning provides exceptional shock absorption and stability. And even with all that cushioning, the shoe still has an optimal amount of rigidness to give your feet the support they need. The synthetic sole with grippy rubber inserts adds to the shoes’ overall durability as well.

While Bondi shoes definitely aren't cheap, they are high-quality running shoes that provide maximum cushioning and stability. For many, they're worth every penny.

Price at time of publication: $160

Key Specs:
Materials: Mesh upper, rubber outsole | Closure: Lace-up | Cushioning: Maximum

Best for High Arches

Brooks Women's Ghost 13 Running Shoes

Brooks Women's Ghost 13 Running Shoes

Amazon

Pros
  • Excellent cushioning

  • Promotes smooth transitions

  • Comes in various widths

Cons
  • Doesn't offer extra-wide sizes

Runners with a history of knee pain need shoes with exceptional support and cushioning like this popular pick from Brooks. Fortunately, those same features are also beneficial for runners who have high arches, so the Ghost is a solid option for them as well.

The shoe’s DNA Loft foam is super soft and allows for smooth, easy landings on the heel and lateral side while the firm BioMoGo DNA foam provides support and stability under the arch. Additionally, the shoe’s engineered air mesh upper provides a secure but flexible fit that breathes well.

Price at time of publication: $130

Key Specs:
Materials: Rubber sole, mesh upper | Closure: Lace-up | Cushioning: BioMoGo DNA

Best for Flat Feet

Asics Women's GEL-Kayano 27 Running Shoes

Asics Women's Gel-Kayano 27

Asics

Pros
  • Excellent shock absorption

  • Comes in various widths and colors

  • Lightweight

Cons
  • Doesn't offer extra-wide sizes

With its technical design and innovative features, the popular Asics GEL Kayano running shoe gives runners with flat feet and a history of knee pain the support and cushioning they need. Asics’ Flytefoam technology helps the shoe bounce back to its original shape after each stride. Meanwhile, the shoe’s dynamic DuoMax support system gives your feet stability and support, and the impact guidance system promotes a more natural gait.

With Asics’ signature GEL cushioning in the forefoot and rearfoot, the shoes also deliver superior shock absorption and comfort. The heel clutch technology provides a secure fit as well, so there’s no concern about your rearfoot sliding around.

Price at time of publication: $160

Key Specs:
Materials: Rubber sole, mesh upper | Closure: Lace-up | Cushioning: Forefoot GEL Technology

Best for Wide Feet

New Balance Women's Fresh Foam 1080 V10

New Balance Women's Fresh Foam 1080 V10

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Excellent cushioning

  • Lightweight

  • Moisture-wicking

Cons
  • Sizes run small

The New Balance 1080 Fresh Foam running shoes have just the right amount of support and cushioning to protect your knees while running. The full-length Fresh Foam midsole keeps your feet comfortable without weighing the shoes down or making them feel too bulky. The shoes’ Ortholite cushion inserts also enhance their comfort while helping with moisture control.

These running shoes are available in several different widths, so those who need some extra room in the toebox can find their perfect fit. With a sleek style and a variety of fun colors and patterns to choose from, these comfy kicks are perfect for runners who like their shoes to serve double-duty as athletic and casual wear.

Price at time of publication: $150

Key Specs:
Materials: Rubber sole, knit upper | Closure: Lace-up | Cushioning: Fresh Foam

Best Lightweight

Brooks Glycerin 18 Running Shoes

Brooks Glycerin 18 Running Shoes

Amazon

Pros
  • Excellent cushioning

  • Durable

  • Promotes smooth transitions

Cons
  • Expensive

If you want a lot of cushioning for knee protection but still desire a lightweight feel, the Brooks Glycerin shoe is an excellent pick. Versatile and durable, it's light enough for shorter runs or casual wear, but also provides the comfort and support you need when hitting higher mileage.

The soft cushioning adapts to each step, keeping your feet from straining and helping to protect your knees from the pounding of the pavement. Additionally, the shoe’s transition zone assists with shock absorption and evenly disperses impact for a smooth, even ride. Similar to other well-designed running shoes, this pair of Brooks is on the pricey side, but the high-quality comfort and protection they provide make them well worth the cost.

Price at time of publication: $150

Key Specs:
Materials: Rubber sole, mesh upper | Closure: Lace-up | Cushioning: DNA LOFT 

Best for Overpronators

Saucony Women's Guide 13 Running Shoe

Saucony Women's Guide 13 Running Shoe

Amazon

Pros
  • Excellent shock absorption

  • Lightweight

  • Comes in various widths and colors

Cons
  • Doesn't offer extra-wide sizes

With an outstanding cushioning system and fantastic shock absorption, Saucony Guide running shoes are a perfect choice for overpronators who want to protect their knees. PWRRUN cushioning provides the right amount of softness and responsiveness while still maintaining a lightweight feel. Additionally, the medial TPU guidance frame keeps your feet tracking straight, providing the stability and motion control that overpronators need.

These shoes also have a wide toebox, so there’s plenty of room for your forefoot to spread when pushing off and landing.

Price at time of publication: $120

Key Specs:
Materials: Mesh upper | Closure: Lace-up | Cushioning: PWRRUN 

Best for Underpronators

Mizuno Women's Wave Rider 24 Running Shoes

Mizuno Women's Wave Rider 24 Running Shoes

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Durable

  • Excellent cushioning and shock absorption

  • Breathable

Cons
  • Expensive

If you’re a neutral runner or underpronator, we recommend the Mizuno Wave Rider, a durable running shoe with consistent support and cushioning.

Wave technology offers responsive, energetic cushioning, as well as optimal shock absorption. Yet the shoes remain lightweight and flexible, making them a versatile choice for any type of run. The shoe’s engineered mesh, breathable upper adds to their overall sense of comfort as well.

Price at time of publication: $130

Key Specs:
Materials: Rubber sole, mesh upper | Closure: Lace-up | Cushioning: Wave technology 

How We Selected the Best Running Shoes for Bad Knees

To choose the best running shoes for bad knees, we first asked experts for their opinions on which features every pair should have. We spoke with Jack Hackett, Head Coach and Founder of Infinity Running Company, and physical therapists Robert Gillanders, PT, DPT, Brent Rader, DPT, and Brandon Schmitt, DPT, ATC.

Then, we researched dozens of sneakers from the top trusted brands. We considered materials, cushioning, fit, price, durability, style, and more.

What to Look for in Running Shoes for Bad Knees

Cushioning 

Wearing running shoes with inadequate support or cushioning can lead to knee pain that would have been preventable with the proper shoes. “Shoes that don’t support a patient’s natural foot structure and running mechanics will cause the body to compensate, increasing the likelihood of poor positioning and overload in the ankle, knee, or hip,” Brent Rader, DPT, physical therapist for The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics, says. You may need running shoes with more cushioning or stability to prevent overpronation, which can lead to knee pain.

Your running shoes should absorb most of the shock from your feet hitting the ground. “Properly supportive and appropriately cushioned running shoes can help to dampen the repetitive loading stresses of running,” Robert Gillanders, PT, DPT, a physical therapist based in Washington, D.C., says. Look for pairs with thick layers of foam or gel padding that will cushion your stride. Some sneakers also have additional cushioning in the forefoot or rearfoot for targeted support where you need it most.

Durability

You want to choose a shoe that’s durable, so the support and cushioning won’t wear out quickly. Look for shoes with sturdy rubber outsoles that will hold up to pounding and abrasion from running on hard surfaces. Also, replace your running shoes often (every 300 to 400 miles), as lack of shoe cushioning and support can also lead to knee pain.

Fit

Physical therapists and other movement experts can evaluate runners to determine the best shoes for their gait, foot type, and injury history. “This type of assessment can provide a roadmap for runners to return to pain-free miles,” said Gillanders. When choosing your running shoes, they should fit comfortably right out of the box—no break-in period required. And make sure you have plenty of room in the toe box to wiggle your toes.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How can I run with bad knees?

    If you have a history of knee injuries, you may want to schedule an appointment with a physical therapist for a comprehensive evaluation before you start a running program. “Understanding why someone is having knee pain will help us determine whether running will be a safe fitness activity,” says Dr. Rader.

    Once a PT has determined the cause of your knee pain, they can recommend the best running shoes for you, as well as lower body stretches and strengthening exercises for the muscles that support and stabilize your knees.

  • Can running shoes affect your knees?

    Yes, running in improper or worn-out running shoes can lead to knee pain. Before starting a running program, make sure to get a running gait analysis done at a specialty running store so you can get the right shoes for your foot type and gait. 

  • What can you expect to pay for running shoes for bad knees?

    A quality pair of running shoes for bad knees usually costs anywhere from $75—$150. Cheaper pairs may not have enough structure or cushioning, meaning they won't feel as comfortable or supportive. More expensive pairs may have too much padding, but will likely be very durable. The cheapest pair on our list, Asics Men's Gel-Venture 7 Trail Running Shoes, is often available for $70. And our top overall pick, Brooks Women's Adrenaline GTS 21 Running Shoes, was $130 when we published this list.

Why Trust Verywell Fit

A certified personal trainer, running coach, gym buff, and fitness writer, Christine Luff, ACE-CPT, spends countless hours researching and testing the latest exercise gear and gadgets. She only recommends products that she can genuinely stand behind and that she believes would be a good investment for her readers.