Knee pain can be caused by a slew of different muscle or bone issues that should be discussed with your doctor, but many times, something as simple as wearing the wrong type of sneakers during exercise can be the culprit. But even if you’ve been cleared by a doctor for any serious cause, that doesn’t make constant knee pain any less frustrating. In this case, taking the time to improve your workout regimen and finding the right pair of running shoes can help ease these pesky aches. If you notice that knee pain is most prevalent while you’re running or at the gym, then it’s probably time to invest in a pair of the best running shoes for bad knees.
To help you choose the right type of sneakers to wear during your next run, we tapped two New York City-based doctors for some input on how the shoes you wear can affect knee pain—and what you can do about it. According to podiatrist Jacqueline Sutera, DPM, “repetitive stress on your knee joints, from running, jumping, or excess body weight can all make knee pain worse.” She adds that worn-out sneakers can not only cause pain in your knees—but also your feet, hips, and back. (Basically, pretty much every joint you need to live an active lifestyle.) For this reason, she stresses the importance of replacing old or worn-out shoes often. Dr. Sutera (who is also a member of the Vionic Innovation Lab) tells Health that it’s best to look for “supportive and comfortable” sneakers, because this can help take some pressure off the knee joint.
Kavita Sharma, MD, a pain management expert at Manhattan Pain & Sports Associatesthis link opens in a new tab, agrees that support is one of the main features to look for in running shoes. She adds that it’s also important to buy shoes that are cushioned because “the cushion is important to avoid micro-trauma to the joints, especially in patients who already have knee pain.” Along with supportive and cushioned insoles, she also suggests choosing a pair that feels flexible and lightweight on your feet.
In addition to improving your shoe choice, Dr. Sutera recommends implementing lifestyle changes that can help ease knee pain even further. These include using orthotic inserts or insoles in your shoes that provide extra shock absorption, cushioning, and arch support, along with alternating shoe types throughout the week. “Always use shoes that are appropriate for [the activity you’re doing],” Dr Sutera says. “Don’t use your workout sneakers for day to day use, because they’ll wear out faster.”
With these doctor recommendations in mind, we’ve outlined five of the best running shoes for bad knees, below. If you think your old, worn-out, or unsupportive shoes are the culprit of your pain, now’s the perfect time to upgrade your running shoes to meet these doctor-approved guidelines—so you can start feeling better with every step.