Running is a great exercise for keeping you healthy and fit. It is also a sure way of cutting down on calories and weight, increasing your bone density, boosting your immune system, draining your body of toxins, and so forth.
As a high-intensity workout, running puts tremendous stress on your body, especially the knee joints. The result is often knee pains that if poorly managed cause knee misalignment among other related knee pains.
If you develop such pains, you need to work with your doctor to manage the pains. Once you get clearance to run again, invest in the best running shoes for bad knees. These shoes incredibly reduce the impacts that running subjects your knees to.
Similarly, you could also invest in a pair if you are looking to avoid the pains in the first place. In this product review and buying guide, you will find a list of the best shoe options for runners with an inherent knee problem.
What Is the Best Running Shoe for Bad Knees?
If you engage in running either as a way of keeping fit or as a sport, then you are well aware of the toll it takes on the body. It is probably why some people regard the sport as bad for the knees. While this is far from the truth, you need the best footwear to benefit from this sport.
Wearing the best running shoes for bad knees makes a big difference if you have a history of knee-related injuries, arthritis, or even training errors. You don’t have to let a bad knee be your excuse for not going for runs anymore.
Before I get to the nitty-gritty of the best running shoes, it would be appropriate to understand what a bad knee refers to. There are a number of conditions that qualify your knee as a “bad knee”. These include and are not limited to:
- When your lower extremity is poor, knee pain results. The most common instance is the presence of wide hips which angles out towards the thigh and lower limbs, thus causing pain at the knee joint.
- Overpronation also results in a bad knee as the foot is likely to roll outwards causing pain at the knee cap.
- Arthritis is another condition that qualifies a knee to be referred to as bad.
- Meniscus or torn ligaments results in bad knees too.
Each of the causes of bad knees has an appropriate shoe to alleviate them. Whether it is a case of runner’s knee (Patello-femoral pain syndrome), inside of the knee pain, or knee exterior pain, there is always an available option that I will discuss with you later in this buying guide.
In order to ensure that you get the best running shoe for bad knees, consider a couple of factors as you consider your options. Here are some features that make the best running shoes for bad knees:
- Excellent support and stability
- Tailor-made for a knee condition, either neutral, supination or pronation
- Comfortable to wear
- Proper traction
- Highly breathable
- Snug fitting
- Heel cushioning
Benefits of Choosing the Right Running Shoe
There are endless reasons why you should invest in a fitting and comfortable pair of running shoes for knee pains. You could be a professional runner or fitness enthusiast who may always want to recover faster from workouts. These reasons should help you make up your mind on making the investment:
- There is sufficient arch support
- Cushions the foot against strikes
- Relieves and prevents future cases of knee pain
- The shoes minimize the pressure exerted by impacts on the knees
- Cozy, plush midsole enhances the in-shoe feel-good factor
- You realize improved race performance
Top 10 Reviews of the Best Running Shoes for Bad Knees
|Merrell Bare Access Women’s Arc 4 Trail
|Mesh and TPU upper
|Reebok Crossfit Speed Women’s TR Cross Trainers
|Nike Metcon 2 for Women
|Women’s Inov-8 f-Lite 235
|Under Armour Threadbone Push Women’s Cross-Trainer Shoe
|ASICS Fuzex TR Women’s Cross-Trainers
|Nobull Women’s Training Shoes
|PUMA Women’s Riaze Cell Cross-Training
|Adidas Adipure 360.3 Women’s Cross Training Shoe
|Nike Free 5.0 Women’s TR Fit PRT
1. ASICS Men’s GEL-Venture 5 Running Shoe – Best Overall for Men
The Venture 5 running shoe incorporates the ASICS philosophy of promoting a sound mind and body. Therefore, with these running shoes, you can still remain fit and healthy, regardless of your previous injuries, thanks to the Venture 5’s performance-driven design.
Among the features that make this pair of running shoes one of the best around is the removable sock liner. This feature allows you to replace it with a medical orthotic for lesser pains at the knee area.
The sock liner is also quite absorbent to the shocks generated by running. Additionally, a material called AHAR rubber is used to reinforce high wear areas of the shoe, utilizing its high abrasion resistance. Apart from cushioning, this material also improves the grip properties.
A rear foot gel cushioning complements the functionality of the sock liner and the rubber outsole is meant for guaranteeing softer landing. A meshed upper ensures high breathability, while the brushstroke patterned underlays minimize the noise levels generated by the shoe as you walk.
In as much as I love how supportive and cushioning these shoes are, their tendency to fall apart with ease is a big disappointment. The toe box, in particular, is susceptible to coming off simultaneously on both shoes.
- Supportive for plantar fasciitis
- Great for trail running
- Comfortable sneakers
- Wide enough to fit those with wide feet
- Supportive at the ankles
- Takes a short while to break into
- Perfect fit for a range of feet types
- Great traction
- Wear resistance reinforcement at the high impact zone
- Falls apart with ease
- Stretches too much with time
- Develops holes on the outsole even with light use
2. New Balance Men’s 990v4 – Best Cushioning
For runners with a natural stride but with bad knees, the New Balance Men’s 990v4 is one of the best running shoes for bad knees that you can opt for. It is loaded with cushioning features for runner comfort while also giving adequate support to the ankles as you hit the strides.
Supportive and cushioning features line the heel area, uppers, outsole, and the midsole. Thus, you can be sure of remaining stable and comfortable throughout the runs. Apart from being a functional option for runners, they are stylish too with loads of colors to choose from.
Lying within the shoe midsole is an EVA footbed and an ENCAP polyurethane ring. This type of construction generates improved shock absorption and stability properties within the shoes. Plus, it is most effective at the heels, where most of the cushioning is required.
Furthermore, you can expect to go further with your runs, thanks to a dual density foam collar. It’s gentle on your feet and subtle too, thus eliminating itches and blisters. Even though these shoes are great, they are clunky, have suspect durability, and are prone to knock offs.
- Comfortable dual density foam collar
- Stability-enhancing ENCAP PU ring
- A combination of mesh and leather enhances breathability
- Relatively affordable
- Stylish neutral and bright range of colors
- Snug fitting lace-up closure
- Excellent cushioning during a heel strike to ease knee pain
- Adequate ankle, roll, and lateral foot support
- Suspect durability
- Knock off products available
- Emits an unpleasant urine-like smell when new
3. ASICS Men’s Gel-Contend 4 Running Shoe – Best for Rear Foot Support
Part of the reason why the Gel-featured running shoes make it to the list of the best running shoes for bad knees is due to their impressive cushioning ability. This is an essential requirement, especially at the rear foot where most of the impact is felt.
This shoe model has the Rearfoot Gel cushioning mechanism. It is a great feature as the shoes are capable of attenuating developed shocks as the foot gets into contact with the ground. Resultantly, the transition from the impact phase to midstance phase becomes smooth.
A removable sock liner allows for in shoe customization based on the demands of your bad knee. If your injuries or pain require the use of medical orthotics, then you can remove the sockliner and replace it. As a result, your runs become pain and stress-free.
Impacted with moisture wicking properties, the same sock liner ensures the inside of the shoes stays cool and dry for a healthy round of runs. However, these shoes aren’t meant for serious runners. Ardent competitive runners have to look for other high-end products.
- Excellent gel cushioning at the rear foot
- Extra comfortable
- Sockliner great at wicking away sweat
- Sockliner replaceable with a medical orthotic
- Great fit for those with wide feet at the midfoot
- Adequate arch support
- Reasonably priced
- Ideal for everyday comfort
- Well ventilated
- Not able to withstand rigorous training
- Sizing can be small and narrow on occasions
- Stiff and roughly textured shoe upper and tongue
4. ASICS Men’s Gel-Kayano 24 Running Shoes – Best For Overpronators
Apart from being one of the best running shoes for bad knees, the ASICS Kayano 24 is an ideal choice for eliminating knee pain during runs. More specifically, this pair of shoes is made with Overpronators in mind. This condition is one of the leading causes of bad knees around.
The lead feature that makes it a great pair is the inclusion of a guidance system for the foot. Hence, the foot doesn’t roll because of how stable it is made to be. Plus, the inclusion of a gel cushioning system on both the forefoot and rear foot further makes the pair suitable for runs.
Extra shock absorption occurs throughout the gait cycle during heel strikes. If you want to have lesser instances of knee pains for Overpronators, then shock absorption has to be as efficient as possible. It is for this reason that these running shoes are so popular.
Most of the users I have interacted with both online and in person all hail it for how snugly it fits them as well as the excellent comfort it derives. At the same time, there are complaints about its expensive nature and the slightly tight toe box.
- Seamless upper construction creates a glove-like fit
- Corrects over pronation
- Non-slip outsole even in wet conditions
- Highly breathable
- Excellent cushioning to alleviate knee pains
- Highly stable even for those with flat feet
- Highly enduring to long distance runs
- Flexible for ease of foot transition
- Quite costly
- Slightly tight toe box
5. Brooks Men’s Ghost 11 – Best for Medium to High Arches
As a predecessor of the famous Brooks Ghost 10, the Brooks Ghost 11 performs relatively well. Part of the reason for its upsurge in popularity is the manner in which the shoe is lightweight, occasioning smoother rides than the previous models.
A neutral support may not be ideal for some users, but it works like a charm for those with this kind of pronation. Likewise, a high energizing cushioning both in the midsole and outsole suits the pair for running on road surfaces minus the ensuing knee joint pains afterward.
The heel to toe drop differential favors runners with medium to high arches. The shoe foot bed of these shoes curves upwards to support the arches. This helps in attenuating some of the shocks that would have been otherwise felt by the knee hence alleviating the pain. Inside the shoe is a soft fabric lining for great comfort.
A foam insole that you can remove adds to the amount of support the foot is subjected to. Throughout the length of the shoe lies a crash pad that accommodates any type of landing and fluidity. Because they tend to fall apart easily, you wouldn’t get to fully utilize these shoes.
- Adequate arch support
- Spacious toe box
- Wearable for other tasks and not only running
- Fits true to size most of the time
- Multi-terrain outsole
- Great cushioning for neutral runners
- Awesome assortment of colors
- Poor construction quality
- Some of the shoes hurt sensitive feet
- The outsole can be too stiff
6. ASICS Women’s GEL-Venture 5 Running Shoe – Best Overall for Women
This Asics Gel Venture 5 for women bears close similarities with the male version, albeit with a host of differences. At a glance, the bright overlays set them apart from the usually neutral themed male versions.
I wouldn’t categorize the arch as high since the shaft measures about 2 inches from the arch support. Because of this arch height, these shoes are great for a neutral runner. This assertion means that Overpronators and under-pronators may feel some slight discomfort with them.
Just like most of the running shoes from ASICS, Venture 5 carries on with the tradition of having a GEL cushioning system. Over time, this technology has been proven to ease pain from bad knees. A removable sockliner conveniently accommodates medical orthotics.
Whereas the shoe upper has a synthetic construction for abrasion resistance, the outsole is made of rubber for traction generation. The rubber is highly abrasion resistant as well. For some reason, the traction and support aren’t that great, more so on wet ground.
- Wide toe space alleviates numb toes
- Excellent arch support
- Adaptive gel cushioning
- High wear resistant rubber at the heels
- Aesthetically pleasing with bright color overlays
- Easy on and off
- Unique outsole design eliminates mud and dirt packing
- Adequately spaced around toes and ankles
- Poor traction on wet ground and laminate floors
- Runs large often
- Might not work well for jobs that require standing for hours
7. Brooks Women’s Ghost 11 – Best for Plantar Fasciitis
The Brooks Women’s Ghost is one of the best running shoes for bad knees designed for females. This pair is all about making runners happy, regardless of their injury records or susceptibility to aggravated knee conditions.
The Ghost 11 is laden with smart technologies for the right fit and shoe functionality during every run. It features a new DNA loft heel crash pad. This new technology engrosses shocks generated by every step of your run.
Brooks places a lightweight yet durable and classy meshed upper onto every Ghost 11. The result is a seamless structure with a lace-up closure for efficient breathability. A balanced and soft cushioning system retains shoe responsivity while cutting down on weight.
Separately, a segmented crash pad acts as shock absorbers on the outsole. Every step you make is cushioned while the foot is in transition. Because of the low weight, the shoes sometimes fail to absorb shocks as they should. This creates considerable discomfort, but in rare situations.
- Soft and protective cushioning
- Springy, lofty strides
- Appropriate for long distance running, treadmill, roads, and cross training
- Lightweight and durable
- Smooth foot transition
- Picks up little mud in rainy conditions
- Innovative heel crash pad
- Fantastic for easing plantar fasciitis
- Can be worn to work
- Runs large
- Not so comfy for flat, wide feet
- Small toe box
8. Brooks Women’s Glycerine 15 – Best for Long Distance
Trust me, if you get the clearance from your doctor that you can run again, all you want to do is run and run. But the sad truth is, not a lot of the running shoes for bad knees can withstand this rigorous usage. As such, the Brooks Glycerin 15 comes in handy.
Backed by a multitude of marathon runners, the Glycerin 15 is one product built to last you through high mileage runs. A molded midfoot is both supportive and low in weight, hence the notable reduction in weight of the shoes.
Plus, the midfoot delivers ample fit around most foot type. Part of the role of the midfoot is also to take the foot through smooth transitions from the heel to the toe. A natural gait cycle makes for a comfortable run for long mileages.
An updated 3D stretch print on the upper acts as a major distinguishing factor, it streamlines the shoe fit, makes it comfortable, and breathable. This upper also surrounds your foot in a plush environment and stretches too.
- Inordinate flexibility
- Updated midsole makes for a soft, plush in-shoe feel
- Smooth foot transition
- Chic looking print on the upper
- Excellent DNA midsole cushioning
- Awful packaging especially when gifting
- Tends to slip on wet tiled or laminate floors
- Wears out fast
9. Saucony Women’s Cohesion 10 Running Shoe – Best Value for Money
The Saucony Cohesion 10 Running shoe is a perfect representation of the fact that the best running shoes for bad knees don’t necessarily have to be the most expensive. It balances durability, functionality, and affordability for those looking for remedies for their bad knees.
And above all, the shoe is ideal for both long-distance running and short races. Backed by the unique running shoe technology of heel grid system, there is adequate cushioning to keep runners going.
A meshed upper cools down the shoes when it gets hot in there. The mesh holes permit the passage and exit of fresh and hot air respectively. If you consider how durable these are, opting for one may be the best value for money you ever get for a shoes purchase.
Of the running shoes for bad knees in this list, it is the Cohesion 10 and Saucony in general that has arguably the most loyal followers. They are generally pleased by how roomy, affordable, and comfy the shoe brand is. Complaints too are available on how less supportive this model is in comparison with previous models.
- Flexible, breathable upper mesh
- Great price
- Firm and sturdy outer sole
- Snug fits wide forefoot
- Available in a range of sizes
- Lasts long
- Plenty of room for toes to wriggle about
- Lacks in-shoe contours
- Not much support
- Midsole feels flat
10. New Balance Women’s Fresh Foam Arishi V1 Running Shoe – Best for Style
With over 40 color variations, the Foam Arishi V1 from New Balance is one made for style. You can have any color combination that you could desire. Furthermore, no-sew material adds to the attractive nature of this pair of running shoes.
Inside the shoes are fresh foam midsoles. The molded foam has air pockets in its structure, providing a kind of springy feel as you run. Air pockets absorb some of the impacts too. Ultra cushioning provided by the outsole gives you the confidence to get out there even with bad knees.
Inside the shoe is a performance-oriented insert engineered by New Balance. The insert corrects rolling motion of ordinary shoes. Without such a feature, pain at the knees would be aggravated.
For its glory, this insert isn’t that great at providing support, more so if you have a plantar fasciitis condition. Perhaps being able to replace it with an orthotic makes up for the inefficiency but it would be great if it offered decent arch support.
- Meshed sides do not pinch the toes
- The insert can be swapped with a more comfortable one
- Lightweight, not to weigh you down
- Runs true to the size
- Comfortable for runners with tailor bunions
- Even pressure throughout the shoe
- Available in wide widths if so desired
- Excellent breathability with fabric mesh
- Looks pretty
- Insert offers little to no support
- Not ideal for high-intensity workouts
- Leans towards a walking shoe rather than a running shoe
For someone with a record of prior knee injuries, the best running shoes for bad knees are indispensable. These work to completely eradicate the pains that make your every step uncomfortable.
While I can’t emphasize enough the benefits you get from buying one, the process isn’t as easy as it sounds. For this reason, I hope by putting up this review, I have made life a little easier for you.
Carefully consider the available options and select one that works best for you.
In this review, my best picks for the best running shoes for bad knees are the ASICS Men’s GEL-Venture 5 Running Shoe for men and the ASICS Women’s GEL-Venture 5 Running Shoe for women.
These two options possess unique features such as adequate support, excellent comfort, rubber outsole for traction, breathability, and impressive fit that’s above the rest of the options. Great reviews from buyers and wearers are further testament of their impressive abilities at eliminating knee problems during runs.