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Knee pain is simply one of the most frustrating sorts of pains a person can experience. Aside from the fact that it hurts, we all know that there’s little rest for a sore knee — going about life, walking around, getting up and down the stairs and just existing feels painful. When you’re up and about, however, there are some shoes that can at least avoid exacerbating the issue.
Finding the right shoes for knee pain begins by understanding the source of your discomfort, which can vary, says Dr. Mark Mendeszoon, a podiatrist and owner of Achilles Running Shop in Pennsylvania. Overuse injuries are one of the most common. “Most overuse injuries are related to faulty biomechanics in which people may develop muscle imbalances, stress on tendons or bones secondary to the foot being either too flat (hyper-pronated) or too high of an arch (caved foot),” he says.
Overuse injuries can include patella tendonitis, patella femoral stress syndrome, patella tracking, hamstring and quadricep muscle injuries or tendonitis and IT band syndrome.
Shoes are not going to fix knee pain, but they can help alleviate or at least avoid aggravating the pain by getting your foot into proper alignment, giving joints some support and diffusing pressure away from the knee. This is especially important if you’re in a job that requires standing all day. When it comes to shoes for nurses, for example, the impact from hard flooring and slippery surfaces will influence how a shoe meant to ease knee pain actually functions. Putting some specialized thought into what work shoe is right for you can help make the pain a bit easier to bear.
What to look for in the best shoes for knee pain
“Just as folks may need eyeglasses to help accommodate with vision, properly selected shoes can accommodate particular foot problems,” Mendeszoon says. He recommends visiting a running store where someone can evaluate your specific pains and issues to find you a proper shoe.
There are some general rules of thumb to follow. If you have flat feet, for example, a shoe with “proper support, cushioning and posting helps ’neutralize’ abnormal stresses and forces” on the foot, Mendeszoon says. If you have high arches, you might need to go heavier on the cushioning.
If you have other compounding concerns in addition to knee pain — like wide feet, plantar fasciitis, or back pain — an expert’s look at your foot, stride and general biomechanics is the best bet for getting a shoe that works for you.
Once you find the shoe that works for your knee pain, remember this isn’t a one-and-done type of deal. The solid support and energy dispersion from a brand-new shoe doesn’t last forever. Mendeszoon recommends replacing shoes every 500 miles, or sooner if you start feeling any discomfort beforehand. To support knee pain, you want to make sure your shoe is operating at its best.
Here, we rounded up the 12 best shoes for knee pain, with the help of Mendeszoon’s expert opinion in the space.
Top Shoes for Knee Pain
- Best Overall: Asics Kayano 27 Shoes
- Best With Built-In Knee Support: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21 Sneakers
- Best Sneakers for Arthritic Knees: New Balance 928v3 Shoes
- Best for Overpronation: Hoka Arahi 5 Shoes
- Best Running Shoes for Knee Pain: Saucony Triumph 19 Shoes
- Best Men’s Dress Shoes for Knee Pain: Cole Haan Grand Ambitiou Oxford
- Best Women’s Dress Shoes for Knee Pain: Naturalizer Vera Dress Sandals
- Best Everyday Sneakers: Ecco Soft 7 City Tie Sneakers
- Best Boots for Knee Pain: Red Wing Heritage 6-Inch Moc Toe Boots
- Best Walking Shoes for Knee Pain: Nike Air Max 90 Sneakers
- Best Booties for Knee Pain: Clarks Sheer 55 Zip Booties
- Best Orthopedic Shoes for Knee Pain: Vionic Bowery Chase Chukka Boots
Asics Kayano 27 Shoes
Anecdotally speaking, Asics’ Gel-Kayano 27 might be one of the best shoes for knee pain around. I’m not a big runner, but I am a big experiencer of knee pain; I was fitted for these sneakers at a running store years ago and they are still the only sneaker I’ll wear for it. They’re super stable but also responsive, and while wearing them, I hardly feel the kind of joint impact I normally do when running. Mendeszoon recommends them, too — as do many online reviewers. “Heaven for my feet,” writes one shopper of the style. “My podiatrist always urges me to buy the Kayanos. Being that he’s a world-class marathoner and has his own set of foot problems, I tend to listen to him…I can run!”
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21 Sneakers
Best With Built-In Knee Support
Brooks’ Adrenaline GTS 21 is one of Mendeszoon’s picks for running sneakers that work for knee pain. This attention to knee pain specifically is built into the foundation of the sneaker, using Brooks’ signature GuideRails support system. It sits inside the shoe and works to prevent your shins and ankles from over-rotating, which can exacerbate knee issues.
New Balance 928v3 Shoes
Best Sneakers for Arthritic Knees
New Balance’s 928v3 is one of the best shoes for arthritic knees, which don’t necessarily require the same kind of support that overused knees do. Instead, you might need something that’s heavier on support tech than super soft cushioning. These New Balances have a compression-absorbing midsole and post stability system, meant to keep the back of your foot in neutral alignment.
Hoka Arahi 5 Shoes
Podiatrists tend to love Hokas, but specifically for knee pain. Mendeszoon recommends the Hoka Arahi 5. It of course has Hoka’s signature thick bed of support but with some details that make it specifically good for knee pain. First, it uses “J-Frame” foam inside the shoe, which is firmer on the inside of the foot. This helps support and protect your foot from rolling in, which can further exacerbate knee pain.
Saucony Triumph 19 Shoes
Best Running Shoes for Knee Pain
Saucony’s Triumph 19 is a good running shoe option for knee pain, and one Mendeszoon recommends. It’s lightweight and springy, diverting any impact away from your joints during runs. Customers love it, too. One reviewer says, “I have bad knees and my old Brooks were done for. So far, these have provided great comfort and support for both running and workouts. I don’t lift heavy in them, nor would I, but they’ll get the job done for pretty much anything else. Great shoe.”
Cole Haan Grand Ambitiou Oxford
Best Men’s Dress Shoes for Knee Pain
When it comes to finding shoes to deal with various types of foot pain, there’s a good chance running sneaker technology will address it. But Cole Haan’s Grand Ambitiou oxford brings that mindfulness to proper alignment and foot support to its dress shoes. These are made with a cushioned footbed, which dress shoes rarely offer. If you’re not wearing them all day every day, they should last you awhile too, Mendeszoon says.
Naturalizer Vera Dress Sandals
Best Women’s Dress Shoes for Knee Pain
For women’s dress shoes, we love Naturalizer’s Vera dress sandals. Heels aren’t necessarily the best shoes for knee pain, but if you need a heel that doesn’t make that pain worse, this is it. It’s super supportive, thanks to its block heel — which provides more stability than a stiletto does — and its contoured footbed. Some customers also say they work well for wide feet. “I highly recommend these to everyone, especially to heavier girls like me,” write one reviewer. Buy the wide size. I used them for 12+ hours and danced in them without having to take them off. Super comfy. I’ve never lasted that long with heels and my feet weren’t sore.”
Ecco Soft 7 City Tie Sneakers
Best Everyday Sneakers
This Ecco sneaker is a great causal, everyday option. It has an easy-to-wear white leather upper, which is perfect for warmer months, and has support hidden inside the sleek-looking silhouette. It uses a specialized technology for foot and arch support. The insole is also removable to accommodate custom orthotics.
Red Wing Heritage 6-Inch Moc Toe Boots
Best Boots for Knee Pain
Red Wing Heritage’s six-inch moc toe boot is a timeless, unisex shoe that’s good for just about anyone. When it comes to supportive boots, Mendeszoon recommends options like this one with soles that are one piece, rather than made with a glued-on heel. This gives the foot a more stable, neutral stance, which is essential for optimal gait alignment.
Nike Air Max 90 Sneakers
Best Walking Shoes for Knee Pain
Nike’s Air Max 90 sneakers are one of the best walking shoes for people with knee pain. The Air Max technology sits your foot up a little higher than you might be used to, but the airy, bouncy heel is a game changer. These maintain underfoot support and promote proper ankle alignment all day long, making them ideal to wear for long periods of time and long walks in new places.
Clarks Sheer 55 Zip Booties
Best Booties for Knee Pain
For everyday shoes, especially ones you might dress up or wear to work, Clarks reigns supreme. And if you’re seeking booties that are good for knee pain, look to Clarks’ Sheer 55 bootie. The two-inch heel is on the low side, which is better for foot alignment than a high heel would be, and still offers a stable foundation for walking. Customers love how comfortable they are. “I usually don’t wear heels because they always hurt my feet, but these I can wear these all day and my feet don’t hurt,” writes one shopper. “Very comfortable. Definitely worth the price.”
Vionic Bowery Chase Chukka Boots
Best Orthopedic Shoes for Knee Pain
Vionic’s Bowery Chase chukka boot is the epitome of supportive, podiatrist-approved footwear. These chukkas are great for wearing daily; they don’t feel clunky or out of style but they also don’t skimp on solid foot support. They have the American Podiatric Medical Association’s Seal of Acceptance, thanks to their podiatrist-designed supportive footbed. They’re even water-resistant, so you don’t have to go a single day without wearing them.