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5 Best Shoes for Knee Pain, Podiatrists Say

Leave knee pain in the past with these doctor-approved shoes.

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Knee pain can stop you in your tracks—and if you're wearing the wrong shoes, it should. Donning certain sneakers can cause or exacerbate knee pain since the bones, ligaments, muscles, and tendons in your feet and knees are all interconnected. In fact, podiatrists say there are a handful of key qualities you should always look out for when shoe shopping and that these can help fight back against persistent knee pain. Read on for the five best shoes for knee pain, as recommended by doctors.

Prices are current at the time of publication but are subject to change.

RELATED: 5 Best Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis, Podiatrists Say.

How Your Gait and Foot Type Affect Your Knees

knee pain or arthritis
Dragana Gordic / Shutterstock

Knee pain can have a range of root causes: Sometimes, it's the result of an athletic injury, while other times, an underlying medical condition such as arthritis or gout is to blame. However, knee pain can also be caused by more immediate—and immediately treatable—triggers. Many people experiencing knee pain are simply wearing the wrong footwear for their particular gate and anatomy.

"Remember, what you wear on your feet will affect your knee pain, for better or worse. The tendons in your knees end in your toes—it's all connected!" says Maggie Trevillion, MCPod, MSC, a podiatrist and the founder of Callen Olive. "Unsupportive shoes such as slip-on shoes or flip flops may aggravate your knee pain and affect your mobility."

Chirag Patel, DPM, a board-certified podiatrist and a foot and ankle surgeon for New Horizons Foot and Ankle Associations, adds that "certain biomechanics of the feet can affect different areas of the body including knee, hip, and even higher up including the shoulders." He explains that certain foot types affect how you walk, increasing swing at the hip, causing a tilt at the shoulders, or adding pressure on the knees.

"One such foot type that stresses the knees that is rather common is over-pronation. This is an excessive inward roll of the foot during gait. This can cause internal rotation of the tibia, stressing the knee joint medially," the podiatrist says. "The opposite of pronation is supination, which is indicated by insufficient inward roll, leading to outward stress on the knee and potential lateral compartment, or outside of the leg, issues. Supinatory foot types are typically high-arched feet."

By having your own foot mechanics and gate evaluated by a podiatrist, you'll gain a better understanding of how these factors could be affecting your comfort.

RELATED: I'm a Podiatrist and These Are the Best Shoes for Foot Pain.

Key Elements of a Knee-Friendly Shoe

man putting on sneakers
Prostock-studio / Shutterstock

Though there's no one perfect walking shoe to improve everyone's knee pain, there are several key elements that can help ensure comfort and support.

Arch Support
Trevillion says proper arch support is crucial for maintaining foot alignment and reducing strain on the knees.

There are two simple tests that can help you determine if a shoe has good arch support. First, try folding the shoe in half, bringing both sides upward toward the center. If you can do this easily with the shoe bending in the middle, this suggests poor arch support. Second, twist the heel and the toe in opposite directions. If you can easily twist, this also points to subpar arch support.

Quality outsole
A shoe's outsole is the hard rubber sole at the bottom that makes contact with the ground when you walk. Trevillion says, "A durable, non-slip outsole provides excellent traction and stability, reducing the risk of slips and falls."

Motion control
For people with foot types that cause excessive rolling, motion control shoes can offer added support.

"For an over-pronating foot type, a motion control shoe will provide maximum support and limit excessive inward roll, therefore taking stress off the knees," says Patel. "You want to look for shoes with features like medial posts, firm midsoles, and structured heel counters. Ensuring the shoe also offers balanced support and flexibility is important as well."

Trevillion adds that a "deep, well-structured heel cup helps stabilize the foot" while also maintaining proper alignment.

Shock absorption
Shock absorption, or a shoe's ability to absorb the impact of your foot hitting the ground, is another key feature of knee-friendly shoes.

"Especially for those that have a supinatory foot type, it is most important to prioritize shock absorption and flexibility to compensate for the lack of natural shock absorption. Look for flexible midsoles and ample cushioning," recommends Patel.

RELATED: 5 "Comfortable" Shoes That Are Actually Bad for Your Feet, Podiatrists Say.

Best Shoes for Reducing Knee Pain

1. ASICS Gel-Kayano

ASICS Men's Gel-Kayano 30 Running Shoes

ASICS Gel-Kayano running shoes are lightweight and comfortable, balancing stability and bounce for enhanced comfort. Trevillion says these have "excellent cushioning and support" and are "ideal for reducing knee pain."

$118.60 at Amazon
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2. Brooks Adrenaline GTS

Brooks Adrenaline GTS sneaker

Brooks is a highly-rated running shoe brand that uses top-quality materials. The Brooks Adrenaline GTS has the added distinction of having been granted a Seal of Acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), which "recognizes products that have been found beneficial to foot health and of significant value when used in a consistently applied program of daily foot care and regular professional treatment."

Trevillion adds that these are "known for stability and comfort and are perfect for long walks."

$138.95 at Amazon
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3. New Balance 990v5

New Balance 990v5 sneakers in light pink

Trevillion next recommends the New Balance 990v5, a sneaker that she says "provides superior support and cushioning, making it a top choice for knee pain sufferers."

This model has an extra durable blown rubber outsole and "dual-density collar foam that offers support and comfort for your ankles."

$137.71 at Amazon
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4. Skechers Go Walk

Skechers Go Walk sneakers in navy blue

Trevillion also recommends Skechers Go Walk for everyday wear. She notes that these are "lightweight and cushioned, offering great support for casual walking" while still being made of breezy, breathable mesh.

$54.21 at Amazon
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5. Vionic Walker Classic

Vionic Walker Classic sneaker in blue

Vionic Walker Classics are another great shoe for alleviating knee pain—not to mention an excellent option for anyone with plantar fasciitis.

"Designed with input from podiatrists, these shoes offer excellent arch support and stability," Trevillion says.

She adds that Vionic is one of a handful of orthopedic shoe brands that "specialize in shoes with features like extra-depth construction, removable insoles for custom orthotics, and enhanced arch support."

$119.95 at Amazon
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RELATED: The 7 Best Walking Shoe Brands.

Also, consider orthotics.

Shoe Sole In Footwear For Healthy Foot Arch

Finding the right shoes should help you alleviate knee pain, but it's not the only way to make an improvement.

"Another important factor to alleviate knee pain is to consider custom orthotics to address specific arch issues and biomechanical imbalances contributing to knee pain," says Patel. "This is patient-specific and would take into account individual biomechanics to help 'offload' areas that are imbalanced, which in return reduces the stress on the knees and other parts of the body."

Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the medication you're taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your healthcare provider directly.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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