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This is a review of the best running shoes for arthritic knees.
I’m a runner with over ten years of experience and a certified yoga instructor who specializes in chronic pain. I also have Fibromyalgia, so I understand inflammation in the joints, particularly the knees.
With that being said, it’s important to choose the correct running shoe for chronic pain – or more specifically- arthritis – otherwise, you could end up doing more harm than good.
The primary symptoms of arthritis are pain, swelling, and stiffness. Arthritis is particularly common in the knee, though any joint in the body may be affected by the disease.
Knee arthritis can make it hard to do many everyday activities, such as walking or climbing stairs. However, it’s important to stay active as exercise is one of the best treatments for this condition. Finding proper supportive and cushioned footwear can be a great relief.
In this article, I’m going to take a closer look at the best running shoes for arthritic knees. I will also explain what to look for when buying running shoes for this condition.
If you’re in a hurry and want my top pick, I compared several pairs and recommend the Asics Gel-Kayano 27 because of their supportive and comfortable fit, as well as the flexible and breathable design.
Read on to discover the following shoes that stood out and made this list.
My Top 3 Picks
5 Best Running Shoes For Arthritic Knees in 2021
1. Asics Gel-Kayano 27– Best Overall
- Rearfoot and Forefoot GEL Technology Cushioning System - Attenuates shock during impact and toe-off phases, and allows movement in multiple planes as the foot transitions through the gait cycle.
- Dynamic DuoMax Support System - This evolution of DuoMax system enhances stability and support, with reduced weight and increased platform support.
- FlyteFoam Propel Technology - ASICS energetic foam formulation that provides supreme bounce thanks to a unique elastomer compound.
The Asics Gel-Kayano is the perfect shoe for those who tend to overpronate, as it supports feet with low and flat arches. The Asics provides lightweight and responsive cushioning and ensures proper alignment– which takes pressure of all joints in the body (and is imperative for arthritic knees).
To correct overpronation, the Gel-Kayano 27 uses a protective material on the inside to prevent the big toes from rolling inward. With its breathable mesh material, the upper completely molds to your foot and with the help of a padded tongue and collar, preventing any irritation.
Common complaints have considered this model to be too heavy and too tight of a fit, but all in all, the Asics Gel-Kayano comes out on top as the best overall running shoe for arthritic knees because of its ample cushioning.
What I Like…
- Great cushioning
- Corrects overpronation
- Breathable mesh material
What I Don’t Like…
- Too heavy
- Tight fit
Similar Product: ASICS Men’s Gel-Kayano 26
2. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21 – Best For Proper Alignment
- THIS WOMEN'S SHOE IS FOR: Runners looking for a supportive shoe that's soft and smooth, the Adrenaline GTS 21 offers an improved ride and reliable support for however your body moves so you can forget the shoes and enjoy the run. This Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21 is a certified PDAC A5500 Diabetic shoe and has been granted the APMA Seal of Acceptance.
- SUPPORT AND CUSHION: Provides just the right amount of stability and support, great for overpronation while providing high energizing cushioning. Ideal for road running, cross training, the gym or wherever you might want to take them! Predecessor: Adrenaline GTS 20
- BALANCED, SOFT CUSHIONING: The DNA LOFT Crash Pad cushions each footfall and works with BioMoGo DNA to adapt to your every stride.
Another great shoe for knee support is the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21- and it’s similar to the Asics in that it is perfect for those with flat to medium arches and those who overpronate.
The amazing feature of this shoe is the GuideRails Holistic Support system which stabilizes the heel and foot, locking you in and preventing overpronation, which is a major cause of knee pain for runners.
The Brooks Adrenaline offers proper alignment, with the midsole and arch taking the excess shock impact. The upper is mesh and breathable and won’t cause irritation. The heel-to-toe drop may be too high for certain runners, and the shoe too narrow, so consider going up half a size.
What I Like…
- Prevents overpronation
- Proper alignment
- Shock Absorbtion
What I Don’t Like…
- High heel-to-toe drop
- Too narrow (size up a half size)
Similar Product: Brooks Women’s Glycerin 19
3. New Balance 1080v10 – Best For Comfort
- Cushioned Running Shoes for Every Runner: Part of the Fresh Foam X collection, these shoes use our latest advancements in data to design to deliver precise plushness exactly where you need it
- Support and Durability: This shoe features a Hypoknit upper designed to provide strategic areas of stretch and support, in addition to a blown rubber outsole for impressive durability
- Perfect Fit: These comfortable running shoes include a bootie upper construction and an Ultra Heel design, both of which hug the back of the foot for a snug, supportive fit
Within New Balance’s running shoe line, the 1080v10 is firmer, heavier, and more stable than the admired Beacon model, and it is the first New Balance shoe to premier Fresh Foam X.
The 1080 v10 is pure comfort, thanks to the Fresh Foam cushioning and its ABZORB insole. This ample cushioning works by absorbing any harmful impact– however, it may feel too firm for some.
The New Balance offers flexible support, providing a mesh upper and durable rubber outsole. Altogether, it’s a must-try shoe for runners looking for a highly protective shoe to log lots of miles in.
What I Like…
- Fresh foam cushioning
What I Don’t Like…
- Too firm
- Tight toe box
Similar Product: New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 V11
4. Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit 2 – Best For Toe Support
Thanks in part to its featured Nike React Technology and React Foam, this shoe is extremely supportive for those with knee pain, as well as lightweight and elastic.
It features a Flyknit upper that is extremely breathable and highly stretchy which allows for more toe support and free movement– which is crucial for arthritis. You’ll be able to choose from many colors and sizes– including narrow and half-size options.
Alas, If you’re a runner searching for a neutral daily trainer with high levels of cushioning, smooth ride transitions, and ample arch support, the React Infinity Run Flyknit 2 is the shoe for you.
What I Like…
- Nike React Technology
- React Foam
What I Don’t Like…
- Too much arch support
- Durability concerns
Similar Product: Nike Women’s Stroke Running Shoe
5. HOKA ONE ONE Bondi 7 – Best For Shock Absorption
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The Hoka One One Bondi 7 was inspired by runners who need a little extra shock absorption and impact protection. This shoe is also great for neutral pronators.
The convenient pull tab at the heel makes taking the shoe on and off a breeze for those with joint inflammation, and the upper ensures proper airflow with its breathable mesh material.
A great feature of the Hoka Bondi 7 is the EVA foam insole, for adequate shock absorption- which is soft but firm. Runners who enjoy soft, thickly cushioned shoes will love the Bondi 7, especially for longer runs.
What I Like…
- EVA foam insole
- Good for neutral pronators
- Convenient pull tab
What I Don’t Like…
- Too high off the ground
- Run narrow
Similar Product: Nike Men’s Air Zoom Pegasus 37
How To Choose The Best Shoes For Arthritic Knees
Choose a well-cushioned shoe
Choosing a well-cushioned shoe prevents shock to the knees while walking or running. They also do a great job at reducing the shock impact on your body.
Consider the soles
When the feet fall too inward, the knees follow suit each time the foot hits the ground, leading to knee strain and pain. Foam insoles are imperative as they can prevent this from happening.
Pay attention to the arch support
Arch support reduces pain and makes walking and running more comfortable. It also helps with balance as they distribute your weight evenly and provide shock absorption, relieving pressure from sore areas, such as the knees.
Ensure you have the proper size
For arthritic knees, a comfortable, well-fitting shoe is absolutely vital. When you are shopping, seek out wider shoes to assure you have ample toe box space and don’t feel cramped.
Make sure to lace them up
A good rule of thumb: Athletic shoes should have shoelaces. This helps minimize pain by eliminating uneven foot rolling, which reduces impact on the knee. What’s more, lacing up your shoes tightly reduces pressure on the outside of the foot.
Does Running Make Arthritis Worse?
If you enjoy running, the good news is a recent study found it neither damages arthritic knees nor worsens arthritis pain, so you can continue doing what you love. You might be surprised to discover that exercise can actually help arthritic joints feel better.
Running (safely) may even reduce your chances of needing surgery down the line, and the good news is that for most people, running with knee arthritis is safe.
Of course, use common sense, always talk to your doctor first, and pay attention to your body, working with your doctor to create an exercise regimen that works for you.
What Causes Arthritic Knees?
The main culprits behind knee arthritis are genetics, age, lifestyle, weight, and trauma to the knee.
- Genetics: Genetic mutations might make a person more likely to develop osteoarthritis of the knee. It may also be due to inherited abnormalities in the shape of the bones that surround the knee joint.
- Age: As a person ages, the ability of cartilage to heal decreases greatly.
- Lifestyle: Examples include people with certain occupations that include a lot of activity that can stress the joint, or athletes involved in soccer or tennis.
- Weight: Weight increases pressure on all the joints, especially the knees.
- Trauma to the knee: Repetitive motions such as – kneeling, squatting, or lifting heavy weights can encourage the development of osteoarthritis of the knee because of the constant pressure on the joint.
How To Prevent Arthritic Knees?
Of course, you can prevent arthritic knees by maintaining a healthy weight, controlling your blood sugar, exercising, stretching, and avoiding injury, as well as quitting smoking and getting routine preventative care.
What Are Some Exercises That Can Help With Arthritis?
Stretching, walking, yoga, water exercises, cycling, and strength training all help with arthritis.
- Stretching: Stretching can reduce stiffness, and increase range of motion which is very important for relieving symptoms.
- Walking: A low-impact form of exercise is great for arthritis.
- Yoga: Incorporate daily deep breathing, flowing movements, gentle poses, and meditation as they increase flexibility, balance, and range of motion while also reducing stress.
- Water exercises: Gentle water exercises, such as swimming and water aerobics, increases flexibility, range of motion, strength, and also reduce joint pain and stiffness.
- Cycling: Biking can be a safe way to get the joints moving and improve cardiovascular fitness. It also reduces stiffness, increases range of motion and leg strength, and builds endurance.
- Strength training: Strengthening the muscles around the affected joints increases strength while reducing pain.
Talk To A Doctor For Professional Medical Advice
As always: Talk to a doctor for professional medical advice.
This article is in no way a substitute for medical advice. And if you or somebody you know is in pain, it’s always best to seek professional help from an expert.
If you suffer from arthritic knees, choosing a good pair of running shoes may allow you to get back on the trails and do what you love. Proper and supportive footwear, like the Asics Gel-Kayano 27 can provide great relief.
The reason I recommend these shoes is because of the supportive and comfortable fit, as well as the flexible and breathable design.