10 Best Running Shoes for Bad Knees

At its core, the best running shoes for bad knees have extra cushion and secure the heel so it won’t shift sideways.

There are several things that contribute to a bad knee: wearing ill-fitting shoes, being overweight, aging, weaker lower limb, and lack of warm-up before workout. But regardless of these things, the pain in your knees occur when your calcaneus (or heel bone) shifts too far inside or too far outside during the impact phase. Experts call this calcaneal shifting. This movement of the heel can cause a bad knee because it will change the alignment of your lower limb.

During perfect alignment, your calcaneus should be right underneath your tibia, the larger and stronger bone connecting the knee to your ankle bones. If you can keep the right alignment, you’ll help ease the pressure going through your knee during foot landing. But why is it important to protect your knees when you run? Experts believe that your knee is the most injury-prone part of your body when you run.

What are the Best Running Shoes for Bad Knees?

The best solution if you experience knee pain is to change your shoes and shift to the ones that are supportive and comfortable and help secure your heel. The best running shoes for bad knees have bumpers that can prevent unnatural calcaneal shifting and too much roll of foot. This will protect your foot from deviating out of your perfect run signature.

With that said, you may need the shoes with a lower heel-toe drop (4 mm to 8 mm) to redirect pressure away from your knees and hips during the gait cycle. Although the lower the shoe differential, the more calf flexibility and ankle mobility you need.

Note: Your foot is a complex unit, but the right shoe feels good right away. If the shoes you are using aren’t comfortable and you experience pain while running, you should try a different pair.

best running shoes for bad knees

Disclosure: We are a reader-supported website and we use affiliate links in our reviews to earn commission income from qualifying purchases at no cost to you.

10 Best Running Shoes for Bad Knees

Here’s a list of the best running shoes for bad knees (in no particular order):

1. Brooks Ravenna 11

This running shoe has GuideRails Holistic Support System, a technology that supports not just your feet but every part of your body that exert effort during running. The GuideRails in Brooks Ravenna 11 uses bumper systems on the lateral side and medial side. These bumpers help align your heel bone and prevent calcaneal shifting (lateral) and too much roll of foot (medial). This results to a perfect run signature which can prevent knee pain and injury.

Key features:

  • Support Type: Overpronation/Stability
  • Differential: 10 mm
  • mesh upper for superior breathability
  • BioMoGo DNA midsole which supplies long-lasting cushioning
  • GuideRails Holistic Support System on sides of shoe to keep the foot stable while you’re on the run
  • Midfoot Transition Zone which is designed to go from heel to toe quickly for a smooth transition

Most helpful testimonial:

They have supported my knees and back well, with no pain after my workout.

Works with the following foot conditions:

2. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21

This running shoe has GuideRails Holistic Support System, a technology that supports not just your feet but every part of your body that exert effort during running. The GuideRails in Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21 uses bumper systems on the lateral side and medial side. These bumpers help align your heel bone and prevent calcaneal shifting (lateral) and too much roll of foot (medial). This results to a perfect run signature which can prevent knee pain and injury.

Key features:

  • Support Type: Overpronation/Stability
  • Differential: 12 mm
  • engineered mesh upper for a structured and comfortable fit
  • GuideRails support system that helps protect the knees by keeping excess movement in check
  • BioMoGo DNA and DNA Loft midsole cushioning which work together to provide an ideal underfoot softness and support
  • Progressive Diagonal Rollbar®: tri-density midsole designed to promote progressive pronation control and smoother transitions

Most helpful  testimonial:

Now I can only wear adrenaline shoes as they support my alignment and help prevent knee and hip pain.

Works with the following foot conditions:

3. Brooks Bedlam 3

This running shoe has GuideRails Holistic Support System, a technology that supports not just your feet but every part of your body that exert effort during running. The GuideRails in Brooks Bedlam 3 uses bumper systems on the lateral side and medial side. These bumpers help align your heel bone and prevent calcaneal shifting (lateral) and too much roll of foot (medial). This results to a perfect run signature which can prevent knee pain and injury.

Key features:

  • Support Type: Overpronation/Stability
  • Differential: 8mm
  • GuideRails Holistic Support System which focuses on protecting the knee area and keeps excess movement in check
  • DNA AMP midsole that captures the energy created by each foot strike

Most helpful testimonial:

I overpronate and was having knee pain when I started running … got these shoes and the knee pain went away.

Works with the following foot conditions:

4. Nike Air Zoom Winflo 7

Award: Most affordable, Runner’s World

This running shoe has a full length Cushlon foam that works together with Zoom Air technology in the heel to deliver cushioning and stability. Nike Air Zoom Winflo 7 also has Cushlon crash rail on lateral outsole which cushions transitions and prevent calcaneal shifting.

Key features:

  • Support Type: Overpronation/Stability
  • Differential: 10 mm
  • EVA strobel which delivers a softer underfoot feeling
  • Cushlon crash rail on lateral outsole which cushions transitions

Most helpful testimonial:

I have a bad knee from a skiing accident and the extra stability here really made a difference.

5. ASICS GEL-Kayano 27

Award: Best for stability, Runner’s World

This running shoe has Heel Clutch technology which provides a heel counter that adjusts to the shape of your heel, minimizes displacement, and enhances stability and performance. ASICS GEL-Kayano 27 also has Impact Guidance System (I.G.S) which offers over one solution to deliver a holistic approach: External heel counter that can minimize ankle movement; Guidance Line which increases stability; Guidance Trussic which aids in smoother landings; and Dynamic DuoMax which boosts stability and supports without the added weight.

Award: Best for stability, Runner’s World

Key features:

  • Support Type: Overpronation/Stability
  • Differential: 13 mm
  • I.G.S which employs linked componentry to enhance the foot’s natural gait from heel strike through toe-off
  • Dynamic DuoMax Support System which boosts stability and supports without the added weight
  • Heel clutch technology which features an exoskeletal heel counter that provides improved support and creates an improved heel-fitting environment
  • Guidance Trusstic System which integrates Guidance Line construction to enhance gait efficiency and promote mid-foot structural integrity

Most helpful testimonial:

Wearing them right when I got them and the knee pain from the old non-supportive shoes has gone away.

Works with the following foot conditions:

6. New Balance 990v5

This running shoe has an ENCAP PU ring with EVA core which wraps the lateral mid-foot through the heel and around the medial mid-foot for enhanced stability. New Balance 990v5 also uses long-lasting Ortholite premium footbed which provides cushioning and arch support. Ortholite footbed is lightweight yet compresses only less than 5% over its lifetime to ensure you get optimum cushioning, fit, comfort, and performance.

Key features:

  • Support Type: Overpronation/Stability
  • Differential: 12 mm
  • ENCAP PU ring with EVA core which wraps the lateral mid-foot through the heel, and around the medial mid-foot for enhanced stability
  • Ortholite premium footbed which provides cushioning and arch support

Most helpful testimonial:

I had a dislocated disk and also a knee injury just over 10 years ago, and since I switched to these sneakers because they are well padded and thick and soft to run, running has never been a problem.

Works with the following foot conditions:

7. Mizuno Wave Inspire 16

Award: Best for high mileage, Runner’s World

This running shoe has an improved DynamotionFit technology which creates an upper that moves naturally with your foot. DynamotionFit locks down the heel during foot stride and delivers contoured fit that can prevent your foot from deviating out of your normal run signature. Even the Mizuno logo on the sides of the shoe seems to give support to lateral movements. Mizuno Wave Inspire 16 also has the famous Wave technology which provide a stable platform and a superior cushioning.

Key features:

  • Support Type: Overpronation/Stability
  • Differential: 12 mm
  • Wave technology which offers energetic cushioning, support and a stable ride
  • U4icX midsole which delivers lightweight cushioning for a smooth transition and superior ride
  • Improved DynamotionFit Technology which creates an upper that moves naturally with your foot
  • SmoothRide engineering promotes a great transition from heel-to-toe with each stride

Most helpful testimonial:

I suffer from shin splints and knee pain from running and have felt neither so far.

Works with the following foot conditions:

  • Shin Splints
  • Plantar Fasciitis
8. Hoka One One Arahi 4

Award: Most stability, Runner’s World

Hoka One One shoes have an oversized base (or big footprint) which is stable, but if you need more stability to protect your knees, the Arahi 4 is one of your best options. This running shoe has a firmer EVA J-Frame which adds extra help on your stability by preventing your foot from overpronating. The J-Frame extends to the lateral side which helps align the heel during the gait cycle. Hoka One One Arahi 4 is one of the lightest stability running shoes in the world.

Key features:

  • Support Type: Overpronation/Stability
  • Differential: 5 mm
  • Molded foam insole
  • Early Stage Meta-Rocker which promotes a smoother ride and faster transitions
  • Firmer EVA J-Frame which supplies lightweight support
  • Flat-Waisted Geometry offers inherent stability

Most helpful testimonial:

These shoes will save your knees, back, neck, etc.

Works with the following foot conditions:

  • Arthritis
  • Shin Splints
  • Bunions
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Heel Spurs
  • Morton’s Neuroma
9. Hoka One One Gaviota 2

Hoka One One shoes have an oversized base (or big footprint) which is stable, but if you need more stability to protect your knees, the Gaviota 2 is one of your best options. This running shoe has a firmer Firm RMAT J-Frame which adds extra help on your stability by preventing your foot from overpronating. The J-Frame extends to the lateral side which helps align the heel during the gait cycle. Hoka One One Gaviota 2 is one of the lightest stability running shoes in the world.

Key features:

  • Support Type: Overpronation/Stability
  • Differential: 5 mm
  • Molded OrthoLite foam insole
  • Late Stage Meta-Rocker which promotes a more stable base
  • Flat-Waisted Geometry which offers inherent stability
  • Firm RMAT J-Frame which supplies durability and rebound

Most helpful testimonial:

I have become so used to hobbling around in pain, I was in shock and awe when I tried this shoe along with my custom orthos and actually walked — upright — no ankle, knee, hip, back pain.

Works with the following foot conditions:

  • Arthritis
  • Shin Splints
  • Bunions
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Heel Spurs
  • Hammer Toes
10. On Cloudace

Award: Best stability shoe, Runner’s World

This running shoe has injected TPU heel counter with 3D-molded heel pads which can keep the foot in perfect position, cradles the heel, and provide side-to-side support. On Cloudace can give you more comfort and cushioning with more padding on the inside.

Key features:

  • Support Type: Overpronation/Stability
  • Differential: 7 mm
  • CloudTec technology which delivers a soft landing followed by an explosive take-off
  • Injected TPU heel counter with 3D-molded heel pads to keep the foot snug and in the perfect position
  • Liquid-injected Speedboard in an extra-wide design that stabilizes the foot during rolling motion

Works with the following foot conditions:

  • Bunions
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Hammer Toes

Final Thoughts

There are many shoe technologies that can prevent pain and injury in the foot but the ones that can protect the most injury-prone parts of your body when you run (your knees) give over one solution: a holistic approach. What is common to this list of running shoes is the group of shoe components that work together to align  your heel bone right below your tibia and prevent it from shifting too far inside or too far outside. This results to a perfect alignment of the knee. And this can prevent knee pain and injury.

You may also like:

Disclosure: As Nike, On-running, Zappos, and Roadrunnersports Associate, we use affiliate links and earn commission income from qualifying purchases at no cost to you. Want to know how we’re funded?

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best running shoes for bad knees?

The best solution if you experience knee pain is to change your shoes and shift to the ones that can give extra cushion and help secure your heel. The best running shoes for bad knees have bumpers that can prevent unnatural calcaneal shifting and too much roll of foot. This will protect your foot from deviating out of your perfect run signature. Best examples of these shoes are Brooks Ravenna 11, Brooks Adrenaline GTS 20, Nike Air Zoom Winflo 6, ASICS GEL-Kayano 26, and New Balance 990v5.

Can shoes cause knee pain?

An ill-fitting shoe can cause knee pain but the shoes with bumpers that can prevent unnatural calcaneal shifting and too much roll of foot can help prevent knee pain. The shoe with a lower heel-to-toe drop (4 mm to 8 mm) can redirect the pressure away from your knees and hips during foot strike. Although, a lower-drop shoe will require more calf flexibility and ankle mobility.

Leave a Comment