These Are the Top Sneakers You Should Invest in if You Have Knee Pain, According to Podiatrists

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You know, we don't really give our knees enough credit until they start acting up. Considering how much we use them for just about every physical activity, achy knees or the occasional click and crack can quickly become a nuisance. Luckily, sneakers for knee pain are especially helpful at alleviating joint and mobility issues from the ground up—and we've found just the ones.

If your knees need some TLC—or if you want to prevent them from needing it in the first place—you've come to the right spot. We spoke with podiatrists to learn what to look for in the best sneakers for knee pain, then set out to find some of the most supportive and well-cushioned pairs on the market today. Time to put away your flat, strappy sandals and wobbly heels and grab one of these sneaks your knees will thank you for.


Experts In This Article

Best sneakers for knee pain, at a glance:

What causes knee pain?

While knee pain can be caused by injury or age, there's one culprit you may not automatically think of: your feet. "When it comes to joint pain, we love to blame it on age, but do we ever stop to think where it stems from?" says Stephanie Anne Lubin, DPM, a podiatrist at the Broadway Chiropractic and Wellness Center in New York City. "One of the most common areas to experience pain is our knees. Contrary to what most people think, it may not be the knees getting old, but rather the orientation of your feet."

Nelya Lobkova, DPM, a board-certified podiatrist and founder of Step Up Footcare in New York City, adds that knee pain is often caused by alignment issues stemming from our foundation, the feet. "If the feet are not transferring ground reaction forces properly up the chain, alignment is thrown off, and knee concerns arise."

Sometimes alignment issues are caused by the fact that the left and right lower limbs are different lengths, and as the body adjusts to this over time, it has negative effects on the lower body joints. To address knee pain, you need to make sure it is properly diagnosed and alignment issues are ruled out. If there are alignment problems, the main solution involves proper sneakers and custom orthotics to align the body. (And luckily, you're in the right place for that!)

Can wearing the right sneakers alleviate knee pain?

Wearing the wrong shoe can aggravate alignment issues and make knee pain worse, says Dr. Lobkova. She advises avoiding rocker bottom sneakers (sneakers with midfoot rockers such as Hoka—they're great for a lot of reasons, but not for folks who experience knee pain) as they put excess pressure on the knees in order to relieve pressure from the ball of the foot. Also, stay away from sneakers with very high heel-to-toe drops (above 10mm). "An elevated heel in a sneaker increases stress on the knees, thus worsening underlying alignment concerns," she says.

What to look for in sneakers for knee pain

Foot type

Because your foot type can impact your knees, it's important to look for a shoe that's appropriate for your specific foot type. One way to determine this is the "wet foot" test, says Dr. Lubin.

To determine your arch type, wet the soles of your feet and step on a sheet of paper, creating a footprint. If the wet print reveals the entire bottom of your foot, you likely have a low or flat arch, indicating overpronation. If about half of the middle section of your arch is visible, you probably have medium arches, considered a neutral foot type. A wet print showing only the imprint of your toes, heel, and the ball of your foot suggests a very high arch, known as supination. (Here's a good visual for how to do it if you need it.)

Motion control

A "motion control" sneaker incorporates the most amount of midsole support, says Dr. Lobkova. "When the midsole is the most rigid or supportive, it allows for the least amount of improper tilting of the heel during walking and running. Less abnormal tilting of the heel means less abnormal rotation of the knee since the mechanics start from the ground up."

Cushioned midsole

A cushioned midsole involves a platform sole, says Dr. Lobkova. "Look for platform sneakers with adequate shock absorption or cushioning under the heel. When there is not enough shock absorption, the forces travel to the next weight-bearing areas up the kinetic chain, which is the shins or the knees," she says. If you have inadequate shock absorption in your sneakers, it commonly leads to shin splints or knee pain.

Arch stability

Sneakers for knee pain should have arch stability and a strong structure to support the foot during impact. "The sneaker should not be able to bend in half or twist 180 degrees," says Dr. Lubin.

If you do think you'll need a little more support, check out these sneakers with arch support.

Cushion

The amount of cushion you'll want will come down to personal preference and the type of activities you like to do. Folks who spend all day on their feet may want more cushioning, while others may prefer to feel more stable and grounded.

Style

Don't discount your personal style while shopping—sneakers for knee pain don't have to be boring! Plenty of brands on our list—especially Hoka and Brooks—offer a wide variety of colors for each of their shoes.

Returns

Comfort is subjective, especially if you're dealing with knee pain. The most highly-rated sneaker still might not work out for you, so it's important to check the return policy for each brand (which we've noted in our reviews below). That way, you know how much time you'll have to try your new kicks before making a decision.

The 16 best sneakers for knee pain

brooks launch gts 10, one of the best sneakers for knee pain
Best overall: Brooks, Launch GTS 10 — $110.00

Available sizes: US women’s 5-12 (half sizes available, wide sizes available in some colors)

Supportive and lightweight, this pair from Brooks is a great option for everyday walks, runs, or longer challenges. They feature Brooks’ GuideRails technology system, which involves bumpers within the midsole around the heel to create additional stability. “The bumpers extend further on the medial side (inside of the foot) for optimal biomechanical alignment,” says Dr. Lobkova. The sole has air-injected rubber, which is more flexible and lighter than regular rubber, and it’s also made with silica instead of petroleum, which brings a sustainable touch to your feet.

Colorways: 4

Drop: 10mm

Returns: Within 365 days (unworn) through Zappos

Pros:

  • Lightweight cushion
  • Bumpers help with stability
  • Midsole support to minimize excess movement

Cons:

  • Not as supportive around the ankle
New Balance 847v4, one of the best sneakers for knee pain
Best for walking: New Balance, 847v4 — $150.00

Available sizes: US women’s 5-11 (half sizes, narrow, and wide sizes available)

These New Balance shoes will have you striding in comfort, whether it’s on pavement, tread, gravel, grasses, or anything in between. The midsole cushioning of these walking shoes uses two different types of foam for shock absorption to make sure you can take on any terrain. The upper is made of mesh to ensure breathability, and the soles are rubber to withstand the elements outside. The heel insert in the midsole allows for motion control, says Dr. Lobkova.

Colorways: 3

Drop: 12mm

Returns: Within 365 days (unworn) through Zappos

Pros:

  • Stability support to minimize rear-foot movement
  • Midsole has two types of foam for support
  • Available in narrow and wide sizes
  • Breathable mesh upper

Cons:

  • More for walking instead of running
brooks adrenaline gts 23, one of the best sneakers for knee pain
Best for running: Brooks, Adrenaline GTS 23 — $140.00

Available sizes: US women’s 5-13 (half sizes, medium, wide, and narrow sizes available)

If running is your game, knee pain is probably on your mind. We named the Brooks Adrenaline one of the best running shoes for knee support thanks to their GuideRails (same as the ones we called out in the Launch shoe above), which help knees feel more stable as you stride. W+G contributing writer Jamey Powell ran the New York Marathon in these kicks in 2023 and says, “As someone prone to knee pain, I found the combination of cushion and stability in these shoes to be the perfect pairing.”

Colorways: 20

Drop: 12mm

Returns: Within 365 days (unworn) through Zappos

Pros:

  • Bumpers help with stability
  • Lightweight cushion
  • Great for distances

Cons:

  • Pricey
Mizuno Wave Horizon 6, one of the best sneakers for knee pain
Best stability: Mizuno, Wave Horizon 6 — $170.00

Available sizes: US women’s 6-12 (half sizes available, some wide sizes in certain colors)

If you have flat feet or pronate when you walk and run, shoes with stability built in are important to keep your feet at a neutral position when you move. The Mizuno Wave shoes have cushioning and a stable platform.

“The patented Wave plate in the midsole acts as a stable buttress under the inside of the heel, similar to a post on the bottom of an orthotic,” says Dr. Lobkova. The foam wave is asymmetrical, which helps tilt the heel and keep it in the optimal neutral position. The upper is stretch woven, and the shoe is also made with eco-friendly materials.

Colorways: 6

Drop: 8mm

Returns: Within 30 days (unworn) through Amazon

Pros:

  • Stability support via an asymmetrical foam wave
  • Breathable, woven upper
  • Grippy rubber outsole

Cons:

  • Not everyone may want maximum cushioning
naturalizer elite slip ons, one of the best sneakers for knee pain
Best slip-on: Naturalizer, Elite Slip-Ons — $80.00

Available sizes: US women’s 5-10 (half sizes and wide sizes available)

Breathable, cushiony, shock-absorbing—what more could you ask for? Naturalizer’s Elite Slip-On sneakers are light on feet and knees, thanks to the Rezorb responsive cushioning in the midsole that decreases impact from hard, unforgiving surfaces. They’re also made with the brand’s Contour+ Comfort technology for heavenly fit, no matter how long they’re on your feet. Even better, they feature sustainable materials in the upper and come packaged in eco-friendly packaging.

Colorways: 3

Returns: Within 365 days (unworn) through Zappos

Pros:

  • Lightweight breathable upper
  • Rounded toe, back pull-tab
  • Responsive midsole cushioning made with sustainable materials

Cons:

  • Not as supportive a lace-up sneakers
  • Run narrow
On Cloudmonster, sneakers for knee pain
Best shock absorbing: On, Cloudmonster — $170.00

Available sizes: US women’s 5-11 (half sizes available)

This pair of sneakers may make you feel like you’re walking on a cloud. It has maximum cushioning and rebound with each step, but is still lightweight to keep up with your long runs. The cushioned sole is designed to absorb impact and provide soft landings so you can run or walk for longer and without injuries. And with their unique, futuristic style and bright color combinations, you’ll turn heads wherever you go. Dr. Lubin says these are good for overpronators.

Colorways: 11

Drop: 6mm

Returns: Within 30 days (unworn) through On

Pros:

  • Lightweight    
  • Made with recycled materials
  • Lots of cushion but still responsive

Cons:

  • Not everyone may want maximum cushioning
Hoka Bondi 8, sneakers for knee pain
Best max cushioning: Hoka, Bondi 8 — $165.00

Available sizes: US women’s 5-12 (half sizes available)

Hoka sneakers are synonymous with max cushioning. The Hoka Bondi, another good option for overpronators, uses a soft, light foam to keep your steps soft and comfy. It has engineered mesh on top so your feet stay cool, and there’s a rear crash pad to help with balanced heel-to-forefoot transition. It also has the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) Seal of Acceptance, so you know your feet are in for a treat.

Colorways: 17 colors

Drop: 4mm

Returns: Within 30 days (worn or unworn) through Hoka

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Made with recycled materials
  • Lots of cushion but still responsive

Cons:

  • Not everyone may want maximum cushioning
asics gt 1000 12, one of the best sneakers for knee pain
Best for pronators: Asics, GT 1000 12 — $100.00

Available sizes: US women’s 5-12 (half sizes available)

Whether you’re running or walking, the Asics GT 1000 12 will give you softer landings under your feet. The LITETRUSS technology on the inside provides extra support in the midsole to keep your feet stable and help reduce pronation. The soles have lightweight foam, and there is gel technology in high-impact areas (like your heel) to help with shock absorption. The upper is mesh and breathable because no one wants hot feet while they’re on the go.

Colorways: 10+

Drop: 8mm

Returns: Within 365 days (unworn) through Zappos

Pros:

  • Neutral midsole support
  • Mesh upper for breathability

Cons:

  • Gel may wear out over time
  • May run a half size small (those with wide feet should size up)
Saucony Tempus, one of the best sneakers for knee pain
Best fit: Saucony, Tempus — $160.00

Available sizes: US women’s 5-12 (half sizes and some wide sizes available)

A good-fitting shoe is important not only for comfort but also for safety. The Saucony Tempus shoes have adaptive lacing and a contoured shape, as well as a padded collar and tongue, to make sure they hug your entire foot just right. The structured cushioning is lightweight and springy, letting you take each step with ease. The upper is made of a lightweight mesh for breathability, and the shoe is also APMA Certified.

Colorways: 12

Drop: 8mm

Returns: Within 365 days (unworn) through Zappos

Pros:

  • Lightweight and responsive
  • Padded collar and tongue for comfort
  • Midsole support

Cons:

  • Not everyone may want maximum cushioning
new balance fresh foam x vongo v6, one of the best sneakers for knee pain
Best lightweight: New Balance, Fresh Foam X Vongo v6 — $165.00

Available sizes: US women’s 5-12 (half sizes and wide sizes available)

The New Balance Fresh Foam has several features that all help with stability to control pronation: midsole cushioning, a medial post, an 8mm drop, and lightweight cushioning. The upper is knit with embroidery for style, support, and breathability.

Colorways: 4

Drop: 8mm

Returns: Within 365 days (unworn) through Zappos

Pros:

  • Lightweight and responsive
  • Padded collar and tongue for comfort
  • Midsole support

Cons:

  • Some customers say it takes time to get used to the insole
Hoka clifton, sneakers for knee pain
Most comfortable: Hoka, Clifton 9 — $145.00

Available sizes: US women’s 5-12 (half and wide sizes available)

With a responsive midsole and the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) Seal of Acceptance, you know the Hoka Clifton sneakers are going to make your feet (and knees) feel better. The upper is mesh for breathability, and the heel crash pad helps cushion each step. The sneakers also have balanced cushioning that’s ideal for neutral feet, and an extended Achilles pull tab that makes putting them on a little easier.

Colorways: 17 colors

Drop: 5mm

Returns: Within 30 days (worn or unworn) through Hoka

Pros:

  • Molded midsole for support
  • Extended heel crash pad
  • Comes in regular or wide sizes

Cons:

  • Not everyone may want maximum cushioning
brooks ariel gts 23, one of the best sneakers for knee pain
Best for motion control: Brooks, Ariel GTS 23 — $160.00

Available sizes: US women’s 6-13 (half sizes, wide, and extra wide sizes available)

Stable and soft, the Brooks Ariel GTS 23 has smart support with the GuideRails technology to help keep extra movement under control. This helps your knees, hips, and feet so you can run with less aches and pains. The engineered mesh upper keeps air flowing while you’re moving, and the shoe has a wide toe box to give your toes plenty of room to wiggle.

Colorways: 3

Drop: 12mm

Returns: Within 365 days (unworn) through Zappos

Pros:

  • Smart support to minimize excess movement
  • Soft cushion
  • Comes in regular, wide, or extra wide

Cons:

  • Boxier look may not be for everyone
New Balance FuelCell Propel v4, sneakers for knee pain
Best for speed: New Balance, FuelCell Propel v4 — $110.00

Available sizes: US women’s 5-12 (half sizes and wide sizes available)

If you have a need for speed, consider the New Balance FuelCell Propel v4. These running shoes are comfortable and supportive, and the midsole is designed to help with propulsion so your steps stay quick. It has no-sew construction for a nice fit and mesh for breathability, which is essential when your feet are moving at high speed. Plus, they just look sleek.

Colorways: 12

Drop: 6mm

Returns: Within 365 days (unworn) through Zappos

Pros:

  • Midsole support
  • Lightweight stability
  • Comes in regular or wide

Cons:

  • May not be as comfortable for longer distances
adidas solarglide 6, sneakers for knee pain
Best traction: Adidas, Solarglide 6 — $160.00

Available sizes: US women’s 5.5-11.5 (some half sizes available)

These Adidas running shoes have a BOOST midsole that’s designed to provide support and cushioning, as well as return some of the energy of each step back to you. The soles cushioned and responsive to each stride, and the outsoles have traction to make sure your feet grip the ground so you can get outside in a variety of weather conditions.

Colorways: 3

Drop: 10mm

Returns: Within 30 days (unworn) through Amazon

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Boost midsole
  • Knit upper

Cons:

  • May run narrow
  • Limited colors and sizes
Saucony Omni 20 one of the best sneakers for knee pain
Best with a wide toe box: Saucony, Omni 20 — $60.00

Available sizes: US women’s 5-12 (half and wide sizes available)

The Saucony Omni 20 is the 20th version of this sneaker, and it’s a classic for a reason. The shoe is stable yet flexible and has stable cushioning, so your feet get support stride after stride. It’s partially made of recycled materials and has an extended medial post to help with body alignment to help reduce pain. The sneakers in wide and standard widths, and the engineered mesh upper provides both stretch and breathability to help on the days when you spend a lot of time on your feet.

Colorways: 10

Drop: 8mm

Returns: Within 30 days (unworn) through Amazon

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Stable and responsive cushioning
  • Comes in regular or wide

Cons:

  • Not everyone may want maximum cushioning
Vionic Limitless Sneaker, sneakers for knee pain
Best arch support: Vionic, Limitless Sneaker — $135.00

Available sizes: US women’s 5-10 (limited half sizes)

You’ll be able to hit mile after mile with support, thanks to these Vionic sneakers, which are designed to hug your arches, making them a great option for people with flat feet, too. They provide cushioning for walking or cross-training, and a breathable mesh upper to keep your feet cool when you’re active. The sneakers also have a reinforced heel for stability and a removable orthotic insert.

Colorways: 3

Drop: 8mm

Returns: Within 365 days (unworn) through Zappos

Pros:

  • Responsive cushioning
  • Crash pad under the heel

Cons:

  • Bulkier design
  • Limited colors and sizes

FAQs

Are there specific brands known for knee-supportive sneakers?

While the level of support will vary depending on the specific shoe model, podiatrists frequently recommend brands like Brooks, New Balance, Mizuno, and Asics for knee support.

How often should I replace my sneakers to maintain knee support?

Podiatrists recommend replacing your sneakers (or any shoes for that matter) as soon as you notice distinct wear and tear in the cushioning or the tread, or if you feel like they're causing you pain. Some experts recommend changing your sneakers every six months or every 300-500 miles.

Can sneakers provide enough support for severe knee pain?

As our experts mentioned above, knee pain can often stem from our feet, so having the right footwear plays a big role in pain prevention and management. However, if you're experiencing severe knee pain, don't hesitate to consult with a physical therapist. Getting a professional opinion on your knee pain can help you identify the root of the problem and devise a treatment plan.

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