The 11 Best Running Shoes for Knee Pain of 2024, Tested and Reviewed

There’s nothing worse for a runner than feeling motivated to hit the roads, but not being able to because of an injury. “Runner’s knee” is a general term that encompasses a few different conditions that can cause knee pain from running. Although running shoes won’t cure knee pain on their own, choosing the right pair is a must if you hope to alleviate or avoid knee pain and keep logging those miles.

According to Neil Feldman, DPM, a foot and ankle surgeon and podiatrist, it’s important to choose the correct level of cushioning for your running shoes. More cushioning is not always better, though. Feldman compares too much cushion to walking or running on the beach – the sand feels nice when you’re standing still, but can make things more laborious when you start to move. Feldman also says to avoid shoes with raised heels, which can shift your center of gravity and place more pressure on the knee joint.

To find the best running shoes for knee pain, we’ve spent a year testing over 100 of the top shoes on the market. Our team of editors tested one pair of running shoes for six weeks, running a minimum of twice per week. We evaluated the shoes based on comfort, stability, responsiveness, value, and effectiveness in minimizing knee pain. Then, a physical therapist from our Medical Expert Board reviewed this article for medical and scientific accuracy.

Why We Like It

New Balance’s Fresh Foam X 1080v12 running shoes are our best overall pick for preventing knee pain because they’re supportive, stable, and well-cushioned. We were also pleasantly surprised by how much these shoes helped with plantar fasciitis when we tried them.

We liked that even though they’re extra cushioned, it never felt like we were sinking, which is what can happen when running shoes are poorly constructed. We didn’t notice any soreness or tenderness with the knees after running, and we felt that they were comfortable to wear throughout the day as well. This pair of running shoes is available in 15 different colors and both standard and wide fits, and at 8.3 ounces, they’re one of the lightest options on this list.

It’s Worth Noting

One downside is that lighter colors get dirty more quickly, so you may want to purchase a darker color if you’re planning to run in wet or muddy conditions. We also suggest ordering a half-size or full-size down as they run large for most people.

Product Details

  • Weight: 8.3 ounces
  • Size Range: 5 – 13
  • Cushioning Type: Maximum
  • Available widths: Standard and wide

Health / Elise Wang


Best Value

Brooks Men’s Launch 9

Brooks Launch 9

Brooks


Why We Like It

Brooks Launch 9 running shoes prove that high-quality products can come at inexpensive prices. During testing, we appreciated the fit of these running shoes. They have a roomy toe box, the upper doesn’t slip, and the laces are easy to adjust. They’re the lightest pair on this list and are available in both standard and wide fits.

We loved that these running shoes have added reflectivity for running in low-light conditions. Plus, the stiff soles help you feel close to the ground, and you can buy them in both neutral and more supportive versions to support your body’s natural motion path. Choose from 10 different colors, sizes 7 to 15.

It’s Worth Noting

The cushioning on these shoes may not be enough for those who experience knee pain after running long distances. But if you’re a beginner, run shorter distances, or you’re someone who prefers less cushioning, they’re a reliable and value-friendly pair of running shoes for knee pain that have a ton of great features.

Product Details

  • Weight: 8.2 ounces
  • Size Range: 7 – 15
  • Cushioning Type: Lightweight
  • Available widths: Standard and wide

Best with Maximum Cushioning

On Men’s Cloudmonster Running Shoe

On Cloudmonster

On


Why We Like It

While some running shoes for knee pain don’t provide enough cushioning, that’s not the case with On Running’s Cloud Monster. These shoes definitely mitigated our knee discomfort during regular 5-kilometer runs. They’re comfortable to wear, and the gusseted tongue allows the upper of the shoe to be snug, but not overly tight.

If you’re looking for a pair of extra-cushioned running shoes, these are well worth the investment. Our ankles and knees felt protected and remained in place through each footfall, without any buckling. We also loved the excellent grip they provide, especially in wet conditions. 

It’s Worth Noting

Keep in mind that these shoes only come in one standard width. They’re also on the expensive side when compared to other running shoes.

Product Details 

  • Weight: 9.7 ounces
  • Size Range: 5 – 11 women’s, 7 – 14 men’s
  • Cushioning Type: Maximum
  • Available widths: Standard

Best for Racing

Asics Women’s Magic Speed 2 Ekiden

Asics Magic Speed 2 Ekiden

Asics


Why We Like It

We chose the Asics Magic Speed 2 Ekiden as the best running shoe for those looking to avoid knee pain while improving speed and performance. If your need is speed, you’ll notice serious performance aid. The level of responsiveness was a huge plus for us as our legs grew tired.

We appreciated that these shoes didn’t need any time to break in. They didn’t cause blisters or soreness, even on the very first run. And while they’re cushioned enough to help runners reduce knee pain, they’re not overly padded. So if you don’t like your running shoes to have a high lift, these are the right choice. 

It’s Worth Noting

If you prefer to run longer distances, you may need to rotate these with another pair of shoes. They’re quite bouncy and best for short-distance rebounding needs.

Product Details

  • Weight: Not listed
  • Size Range: 5 – 12
  • Cushioning Type: Lightweight
  • Available widths: Standard

Most Versatile

Brooks Women’s Glycerin GTS 20

Brooks Glycerin GTS 20

Brooks


Why We Like It

Because of how comfortable they are on different terrains and surfaces, we recommend the Brooks Glycerin GTS 20 as a versatile running shoe for knee pain. We tested them on sand, gravel, wooden stairs, and at the gym, and we liked how stable they felt on every surface. What’s more, our ankles felt particularly stable and didn’t slide around, even for those of us with narrow feet who struggle with finding the right support. 

The mesh upper is breathable and plush, and we loved that they dried quickly after we got them wet during a run. They’re available in standard or wide widths, and you’re even able to pick from a classic or tighter fit.

It’s Worth Noting

Similar to On Running’s Cloud Monster, these shoes offer maximum cushioning and can feel bouncy, so they may take some getting used to. 

Product Details

  • Weight: 9.4 ounces
  • Size Range: 5 – 12
  • Cushioning Type: Maximum
  • Available widths: Standard and wide

Best Men’s

Saucony Running Shoe

Saucony Guide 15

Zappos


Why We Like It

We found the Saucony Men’s Guide 15 running shoes extremely comfortable and spacious. Our editor who regularly runs long distances loved how stable his ankles and knees felt while wearing these shoes. They felt light on his feet but also had enough cushioning to absorb the impact of his foot strike.

The upper fit snugly on the ankle and upper foot, so it didn’t shift around while running. We also like that there’s added rubber in places where it’s needed the most, making them extra durable. And they’re certified by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), highlighting their quality. 

It’s Worth Noting

We found that these shoes don’t dry as quickly as other items on our list, so if you run in wet conditions, another pair on this list may suit you better. 

Product Details

  • Weight: 9.5 ounces
  • Size Range: 7 – 16
  • Cushioning Type: Soft
  • Available widths: Standard or wide

Most Breathable

Nike Women’s Infinity React 3 Running Shoes

Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit 3

Dick’s Sporting Goods


Why We Like It

Nike’s React Infinity Run Flyknit 3 running shoes stood out as the most breathable pair of shoes we tried. There are specific zones on the upper geared towards optimal breathability, flexibility, and containment, which help your feet feel cool but secure while running.

We love how the shoes naturally mold to your foot, which makes them comfortable to wear for both short and long-distance running. The soft padding along the collar is another nice touch that provides a cushioned touch point.

It’s Worth Noting

The sole of this shoe is more thick and sturdy than other pairs on our list. Our editor loved the extra protection, but it might be too much if you prefer a more natural feel. 

Product Details

  • Weight: Not listed  
  • Size Range: 5 – 12
  • Cushioning Type: Soft and supportive
  • Available Widths: Standard

Best for Long Distances

Hoka Stinson 7

Hoka Stinson 7 Shoes in their original packaging

Shape / Kimberly Souza


Why We Like It

Hoke calls the Hoka Stinson 7 running shoes the “Swiss army knife of shoes,” and for good reason. They’re designed with trail running in mind, but their solid construction and plush cushioning also make them ideal for running long distances. During our testing, they provided excellent stability and protection against knee pain as well as pronation and heel pain.

These shoes get amazing traction on a variety of terrains, so they’re perfect for long trail runs over rugged ground. Despite their sturdy construction, we found the mesh uppers were breathable, comfortable, and didn’t hold on to odors. We especially appreciated the extra heel cushioning and guard rails on the side of the shoes, which minimized our tendency to pronate, especially on rocky trails.

It’s Worth Noting

There’s not a ton of bounce-back in these shoes, so they’re not the best option for shorter races or speed in general.

Product Details

  • Weight: 10.8 ounces
  • Size Range: 5-11 women’s, 7-15 men’s
  • Cushioning Type: Plush
  • Available Widths: Standard

Best With Minimal Cushioning

Brooks Ghost 14

Brooks Ghost 14

Brooks


Why We Like It

If you’re looking for running shoes for knee pain with minimal cushioning, we suggest the Brooks Ghost 14. We loved how stable and solid these running shoes felt for knee pain, despite their minimal cushioning. We didn’t feel any twinges or aches in the knee when changing paces or surfaces. Not to mention, they’re comfortable and fit well, too. 

If you’re someone who prefers less cushioning because more cushioning can make your knees hurt more, these running shoes are a dependable option. We love that the upper is partially made from recycled materials, and the soft midsole is designed to ensure smooth and comfortable transitions every time. 

It’s Worth Noting

Although we like that they’re available in narrow, standard, and wide widths, the narrow and wide versions only come in a couple of colors each. Otherwise, there are a variety of colors to choose from in the standard width.

Product Details

  • Weight: 9 ounces
  • Size Range: 5 – 13
  • Cushioning Type: Soft
  • Available widths: Narrow, standard, and wide

Best for Trail Running

Hoka Women’s Speedgoat 5 GTX Trail Runners

 Zappos HOKA Speedgoat 5

Zappos


Why We Like It

The Hoka Speedgoat 5 GTX Trail Runners were tested by a member of our team who has patellofemoral pain syndrome, which is characterized by pain at the front of the knee, around the kneecap. She found them to be the best shoes she had ever tried when it came to keeping pain under control, even logging 30-50 miles per week on varied surfaces. She also noted that they prevented plantar fasciitis flare-ups due to the supportive arch that takes pressure off the heel.

The shoes feature supportive cushioning designed to mitigate the wear and tear of long trail runs. The responsive soles provide just the right balance of spring, bounce, and energy, even when running on rough terrain and slippery surfaces. We highly recommend them for trail runners as well as hikers and winter road runners.

It’s Worth Noting

The shoes are heavy, so if speed is your main concern, you might opt for a lighter shoe.

Product Details

  • Weight: 11.5 ounces
  • Size Range: 7-14 men’s, 5-11 women’s
  • Cushioning Type: Balanced
  • Available widths: Standard

Best Arch Support

Nike Invincible 3

Nike Invincible 3 Women's Road Running Shoes

Nike


Why We Like It

Nike Invincible 3 Road Running Shoes are designed to prevent pronation, which is when your arch and ankle roll in while running. They feature high cushioning and support, as well as a snug fit to ensure your feet stay put while logging miles. They’re also durable and stayed as good as new throughout our testing, even with regular use.

We found the foam cushioning to be springy but firm and loved the extra arch support these shoes provide. They also absorbed a lot of shock. One of our editors found that wearing these shoes helped her increase her average treadmill speed from 5.6 to 6 thanks to how smoothly they transition from one stride to the next.

It’s Worth Noting

The shoes cut pretty low on the ankle, and we found they weren’t ideal to wear with no-show socks, which tended to bunch up as we ran.

Product Details:

  • Weight: 310 grams
  • Size Range: 6-15 men’s, 5-12 women’s
  • Cushioning Type: High
  • Available widths: Standard, extra wide

Where We Stand

We’ve been testing running shoes for knee pain for over a year now, and the New Balance Fresh Foam X 108v12 shoes still top our list. They have a great balance of features a runner would want: Responsive soles, supportive cushioning, and a lightweight design that’s perfect for all types of terrain. To top it all off, they relieved both knee and plantar fasciitis pain during our testing. We’re still trying out new shoes regularly, so keep your eye on this list for the most up-to-date recommendations.

Our Testing Process

We’ve tested over 100 pairs of the most popular running shoes for knee pain to determine which ones were most effective and comfortable to wear. We started by speaking to experts to get their advice about what makes a pair of running shoes great for knee pain. Then, we had 29 editors test a pair of running shoes for a six-week period, running a minimum of twice per week. We’ve repeated this testing over the last year to keep our list current.

During the testing process, we paid particular attention to the following factors:

  • Fit: How the shoe feels on our foot and whether it slid around at all while running. We also noted any tingling, numbness, or rubbing against our Achilles that occurred during testing.
  • Cushioning/Knee Protection: We described how the cushioning felt (i.e., pillowy or firm), and took note of any knee pain we felt while testing each pair of shoes.
  • Comfort: We recorded any blisters, toe jamming, or irritating seams we experienced and also noted how our feet felt in different temperatures.
  • Responsiveness: We described how each pair of shoes affected our stride and whether they helped propel us from one stride to the next.
  • Stability: During our tests, we noted any knee instability we felt during our runs, and also described how the heel support felt for each pair.
  • Overall Value: We observed how the fabric and cushioning held up with repeated use, and also noted whether the shoes held onto odors.

Our Experts

Experts we spoke to include: 

What to Know About Running Shoes for Knee Pain

Cushioning

While many people think more cushioning is better for reducing knee pain, this isn’t necessarily true. In fact, some people may find it difficult to run with shoes that are too cushioned. And although more cushioning can initially reduce impact force, it can also cause the runner to change their gait to account for the extra cushioning, which can cause more harm to the knees, according to Ronesi. It’s important to find a balance between the shoe being cushioned but also sturdy at the same time—and this usually comes down to personal preferences.

Width

When it comes to available widths, your main concern should be finding a pair of running shoes that make your feet feel supported without feeling cramped. Some shoes are only available in a standard width, whereas others also come in narrow or wider versions. We like Brooks Ghost 14 because it’s available in all three—narrow, standard, and wide. It’s worth taking the time to look at sizing guidelines for the particular manufacturer before you pick the right pair for your needs.

Fit

There are a few important things to look for when it comes to finding the right fit for your running shoes. This includes a roomy toe box that is shaped like your foot, a lacing and heel structure that hugs your foot to the back of the shoe, and an instep (middle of the shoe) that gently hugs your arch and top of the foot. All of these will mean your running shoes fit well and are comfortable to wear. If you find that the fit isn’t as good as it used to be, this could be because your shoes are worn down it’s time to invest in a new pair.

Midsole Drop

The midsole drop, or the heel-to-toe drop, on a pair of running shoes, is the difference in height between the heel and the forefoot. The reason why this is important is that the midsole drop affects which part of your leg is absorbing the impact and being loaded while running.

When it comes to reducing knee pain, a lower midsole drop could be the better choice. However, it’s worth noting that this may come at the expense of the ankle joint, so you may not want to go too low (or to zero). On Running’s Cloud Monster has the lowest midsole drop (at 6 millimeters) on our list.

More Running Shoes to Consider


While not all of the running shoes for knee pain we tested made it onto our list, these still may be of interest to you:

  • Hoka Clifton 8: These running shoes are a great value, and are one of the least expensive items we tested. But, we found that the fit was a little loose on the midfoot, which made us feel unstable at times while running. We would have liked to see them offered in a narrow fit to help prevent this.
  • luluemon Chargefee: We thought these shoes were effective in alleviating knee pain when running and we liked the stylish look. But due to the sock-compression design, we found that they took longer to put on and felt too snug during use. This meant that only thinner socks could be worn, but more importantly, our editor felt that she had to run slower because of this.
  • Asics Novablast 3 Platinum: Although these running shoes were comfortable to wear and provided great shock absorption, our editor developed a blister on her back heel during a long-distance run. For this reason, we found that they could have benefited from more cushioning and support in the heel.

Your Questions, Answered

What type of running shoe is best for knee pain?

After testing popular running shoes for knee pain, and speaking with experts on what makes a pair of shoes great, we found the New Balance’s Fresh Foam X 1080v12 are the best overall running shoes for knee pain. These shoes boast a good balance between cushioning and sturdiness, have a roomy toe box, fit well, and more importantly, are comfortable to wear for long periods of time.

Do running shoes reduce knee pain? 

A quality pair of running shoes can help to reduce knee pain. This mainly comes dow to you being able to run with better form in higher-quality shoes, says Dr. Feldman. If your knees still hurt when running, it may be worth considering taking measures to improve your form. If you’ve done this, a good pair of running shoes can make all of the difference when it comes to reducing knee pain.

Do cushioned running shoes cause knee pain?

A cushioned shoe is ideal for reducing the heavy impact of road running. However ankle mechanics can benefit from stiffer shoes, as the foot and ankle can work more dynamically, creating an internal driver for shock absorption, says Ronesi. A cushioned shoe may feel better during the run but may not be ideal for the long term. It’s important to find a balance between cushioning and sturdiness.

Who We Are

As a qualified personal trainer and health and fitness writer, Ravi Davda understands how important quality product recommendations can be. He recommends products that are reliable, comfortable, and genuinely well-reviewed by those who’ve tried them.

Although not his main form of exercise, he does run from time to time and has suffered from knee pain in the past. He has previously worked with multiple clients who enjoy running—some of which have knee pain—and has given product recommendations based on his own experiences and his client’s feedback.

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