Many people begin running to live a healthier lifestyle. Afterall, runners can lose weight and tone their body while clearing their mind and enjoying the outdoors. Runners also increase their bone density with regular runs and can even strengthen their immune system through regular exercise. Sounds great, right?
It is. But, some runners can experience pain in their knees while running. And others may stay away from running because of “bad knees.” Whether they’ve had problems with knee pain in the past or have tried running and experienced knee pain that didn’t go away, it can be a deterrent to keep running or to try running again in the future.
However, whether you have bad knees or experience knee pain while running, you don’t have to avoid the activity. Instead, you probably just need a better pair of running shoes. Sometimes, simply changing your running shoe style or brand can be enough to get you ready to run again. It’s also important to realize not all running shoes are made the same.
In fact, there’s dozens of styles and options when it comes to running shoes. Finding the style and features that make you feel comfortable on the road or on a dirt trail can be difficult. But we’re trying to make it easy. We’ve done the research for you, so you don’t have to. Here’s a list of the best running shoes for bad knees.
Shopping Tips to Avoid Knee Pain with the Right Running Shoe
If you’re nursing an old injury, have arthritis, or suffering from training injuries caused by running badly, you can get back to running with less or no knee pain when you choose a style and size that meets your needs. When we say “your needs,” it can mean something different to you than anybody else.
Men and women have bio-mechanical differences in their feet, so the same running shoes might not work for a husband and wife running duo. Where you run, how fast you run, and the type of weather where you run can also effect the shoes that are best to protect your knees. Keep reading to learn more about determining what running shoes are right for your running style.
Below, we’ve made a list of features to consider when shopping for the best running shoes for bad knees. But before we go over those shopping tips, you need to understand more about why wearing the wrong running shoes can make your bad knees worse and cause other body pain too.
Determine Your Foot Strike
Did you know the way your foot hits the ground naturally is called foot strike? It is. It might not seem important to know that, but the truth is, if you have bad knees, you need to know whether you have a tendency to overpronate, supinate, or have a neutral stride. Understanding your foot’s fundamentals will help you choose the right shoe to decrease knee pain or protect your knees from injury.
Understanding Overpronation, Supination, and Neutral Strides
Runners who overpronate usually have high arches or extremely flat feet. The biomechanical design of overpronated feet causes overpronation and can increase supination too. Overpronation causes the ankle to roll inward. Supination causes the ankle to roll outward.
If you have a neutral stride, sometimes called a normal foot, you pronate and supinate normally, which means, lucky you, you’ll do really well in a number of shoe styles and sizes. Even better news, you’re unlikely to experience knee pain associated with wearing the wrong running shoes. You can likely get away with budget-friendly shop options and running shoes that don’t have a ton of features and technology.
On the other hand, if you choose the wrong running shoe for your foot strike, you’ll likely suffer painful consequences. Runners with flat feet have a tendency to overpronate. Runners with high arches have a tendency to underpronate, also known as supinate. If you are somewhere in between, you have a neutral foot strike. After you’ve determined your foot strike, it’s time to consider other critical factors.
Understanding Overpronation and Runner’s Knee
If you overpronate while running and have knee pain, you’ve probably heard your pain be described as “runner’s knee.” Runner’s knee pain, also referred to as an “IT band syndrome,” by doctor’s and physical therapists is pain around the kneecap and the area around the outside of the knee.
The best way to combat runner’s knee pain is to choose a running shoe that will provide you with a neutral or natural foot strike equally from your heel to toe. A neutral/natural foot strike will give you a better stride and body alignment that prevents stress on the knees. When your body alignment is corrected while running, you’ll have better body alignment, which means you can help prevent other runner injuries and may even be able to increase your speed or distance abilities.
Finding the Right Level of Running Shoe Comfort
After you’ve determined your foot strike, you need to think about comfort. Believe it or not, there is such a thing as too much comfort and extra cushioning when it comes to running shoes and knee pain.
Comfort levels aren’t the same for everyone, and you need to decide if you want your comfort in terms of materials, extra cushioning on the insole and heel, or a combination of all these features.
ASICS Women’s and Men’s GEL-Venture 5 Running Shoe
ASICS creates some of the best women’s running shoes for bad knees, and running in general. Likewise, the brand is also one of the most recognized for offering the best men’s running shoes for bad knees. The GEL-Venture 5 sneaker is a trail running shoe and great for those with a neutral foot strike.
ASICS Rearfoot gel cushioning system
Closed mesh upper to keep out debris
Reverse lugs for uphill and downhill runs
Not very flexible
Can be extremely hot and uncomfortable on warm days
Doesn’t provide a great deal of arch support
The men and women’s ASICS Gel Venture 5 are innovative and have a nice design. The neutral design of these running shoes makes it a great choice for people with all pronation tendencies and helps to create the proper body alignment for beginner and experienced runners. While this running shoe is popular with those trying to avoid or correct knee pain, it’s not created for use on all surfaces.
In fact, if you’re a road runner that usually tackles hard, flat terrain, this might not be the shoe for you. However, if you like to run in the woods on dirt trails with lots of debris, you may have found the perfect footwear for your running style. The ASICS shoe style is best use is for those trying to avoid knee pain on trail runs in fall temperatures.
Brooks Mens Adrenaline GTS 19 Running Shoe
Unlike ASICS, which is a well-known brand for runners and other athletes, Brooks concentrates on creating gear primarily for runners. In fact, Brooks claims the only sport they concentrate on is running. The men’s Adrenaline GTS 19 running shoe by Brooks is recommended for men and women with a flat to medium arch. The Adrenaline offers a modern fit and an innovative support system.
Provides optimal levels of support and cushioning
Excellent running shoe option for overpronators
Rubber at the heel breaks down quickly
Not ideal for fast runs
Don’t breathe well
The Brooks Mens Adrenaline GTS 19 running shoe is great for men or women who are looking for footwear that will help relieve or prevent knee pain. Brooks also offers the Adrenaline GTS 19 in women’s sizes. Brooks’ Guide Rail pronation support provides stability without pressuring the arch or changing your alignment.
Saucony Cohesion 10 Running Shoe for Men and Women
The Saucony Cohesion 10 running shoe can help reduce knee pain in men and women. The running shoe is made of 100% mesh and a rubber sole for incredible traction. Saucony installed a Heel Grid system that offers stable cushioning for runners with a variety of different heel strikes. Breathability is provided by mesh uppers and a plush tongue and collar that increases comfort while running.
Ideal for jogging
Not ideal for those with low arches
Extremely slippery on wet surfaces
It’s important to remember this is Saucony’s entry-level running shoe. It’s great for beginners and those that need a stable gym shoe; however, it might not be the best option for those that need more serious support and responsiveness.