Shoes for Knee Pain

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What Are Best Shoes for Knee Pain? A Reader Question

best shoes for knee painHi There! I love your articles and am wondering if you have ever done a piece on the best shoes for knee pain? I have a torn, or sprained MCL and am having a rough time. I am a Dansko and huge clog lover, but am finding that I can not wear them while my knee is hurting. I’ve been living in by Blundstone boots (flat seems to help) but I need a better alternative.

Dear reader,

We’re sorry to hear that you’re experiencing knee pain due to a sprained MCL. We’re glad you reached out to us; it’s high time we included an article about the best shoes for knee pain. You mention that Dansko clogs have become burdensome for your knees. Did you know a fairly recent study shows that Dansko clogs in particular cause high loads on the knees (force put on weight-bearing joint)? Rheumatologist at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center, Najia Shakoor, M.D., explains, “Shoes with stiff soles make us artificially stomp when we walk as opposed to the flexible movement when we go barefoot.” This may explain why your knees hurt while you’re wearing your Dansko clogs.

But which shoes will help your knee pain? Let’s find out.

Best Shoes for Knee Pain: Inov 8 AllTrain 215

Inov 8 AllTrain 215

Dr. Shakoor recommends a flat and flexible shoe for knee osteoarthritis (which we’ll discuss in the next paragraph), but we’re hesitant to recommend that type of shoe for anyone with torn or sprained MCL which controls the sideways motion of your knee. You need a shoe with good lateral (side) support. Did you know that cross-trainers have better lateral support than running shoes? A good pair of cross-trainers will protect your knee from side to side movements, allowing your MCL sprain to heal. Our top picks: Inov-8 All Train 215, Asics Gel Exert or Ryka Influence trainer.

Best Shoes for Knee Pain: Skechers Go Walk 4

Skechers Go Walk 4

So what are the best shoes for knee pain caused by osteoarthritis? The same study that showed Dansko clogs to increase the load placed on knee joints also found that a soft, flat and flexible shoe decreased load therefore reducing knee pain caused by OA. A favorite shoe among women with knee osteoarthritis is the Skechers GoWalk (read our article about the Go Walk here). The Nike RunAllDay is another option in the flat and flexible category that offers superb cushioning: reviewers with knee pain love the feel (plus it comes in hard-to-find 10.5 and 11.5 sizes). Another favorite fitness shoe among women with osteoarthritis knee pain is zero-drop footwear by Altra (read our review of Altra shoes here). The toe box is wide, the footbed provides good arch support and amazing cushioning.

Dr. Elena Katzap, a rheumatologist with Long Island Jewish Medical Center states in an article for Everyday Health, “People sometimes protect their knees at the expense of their feet. For example, barefoot technology sneakers are good for the knees but not for the feet. These sneakers place an increased load on the joints in the toes and the feet. If there’s osteoarthritis in the foot or foot pain, shoes with a wide toe box and those that take pressure off of the arch can help,” she says.

Best Shoes for Knee Pain: Abeo Lively

Abeo Lively

If your knee pain is due to fallen arches or excess pronation, consider Abeo footwear, a line of comfort footwear from The Walking Company is gaining loyal customers with their three customized footbed options (the posted heel is ideal for low arches and flat feet and provides the most support and stability out of the three options). We like the low profile silhouette of the Abeo Lively sneaker (last year’s model is marked down).

We asked our Facebook fans for their recommendations of best shoes for knee pain–and they sure answered! We hope you find this a helpful resource and feel free to add your two cents.

If you’re not on Facebook, we’d still love to hear from you! Add your favorite shoes for knee pain in a comment below.

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14 Responses to What Are Best Shoes for Knee Pain? A Reader Question

  1. cedar says:

    The reader might not be looking for athletic shoes, but, for me, when I had knee pain, Altra was a game changer. Lone Peak and Torin styles.
    Not only could I run (further) and pain free, I didn’t have pain after running.

  2. cedar says:

    Oops, meant to add, Altra also helped with PF.

  3. Kirsten Borrink says:

    I love Altra for knee pain. My RA has been kind to my knees so far, but every now and then it acts up and I appreciate the cushioning and zero drop of the Altra.

  4. Tracy says:

    How do you feel about Hoka One One’s for OA in both knees? I’m a nurse, on my feet for 12+ hours a day and I’ve been wearing these for 4years to cushion my feet. I generally have reduced my foot pain greatly but I don’t want to sacrifice my knees.

  5. Kirsten Borrink says:

    From what I’ve read, the Hoka Clifton is more flexible than other models, so less load on knees. You can’t beat the cushioning!

  6. Bette says:

    After years of wearing clogs, I developed fairly severe knee pain. I learned that clogs were known to contribute to this, which made me sad, b/c I’d worn clogs to help my feet and had inadvertently hurt my knees. I healed my knee pain by switching to flat, flexible shoes — examples include Camper Right Nina ballet flats, Naot Norah and Dorith sandals, and Merrell Duo Haven waterproof boots. My knees feel better than they have in years —

  7. Kirsten Borrink says:

    Thank you, Bette. Your stylish suggestions are much appreciated–better than my tennis shoe options! xxoo

  8. pollosmoky says:

    I’ve had the most relief from rocker sole shoes such as MBT or Abeo R.O.C.s The only drawback is that lateral stability can be a problem.

    I have OA, and these work well for me, a bonus is that they’re available in casual styles that aren’t athletic. My favorites are the sandals & Maryjanes.

    Wedges w/a slightly upturned toe are also helpful, Bernie Mev and Kork-Ease are standouts in this regard.

  9. Karen Stelling says:

    I recently completed a knee OA study at Rush under Dr. Shakoor’s direction. The shoes I was given to wear during the study and got to keep are Dr. Comfort’s Sandy. They are super flexible and my feet and knees enjoy them. I’m surprised that although the insole is not complex, the comfort and cushioning are great.

  10. Kirsten Borrink says:

    Karen, this is fascinating. I will have to look into these! Thank you for the recommendation and I’m glad to hear they’re comfy for you.

  11. Lance Elliott says:

    I’m a nurse and work a 12 hour shift. I certainly have OA. However, the major knee problem is, I basically have no meniscus in either leg so yes indeed it is bone on bone. I know there is no way any shoe will stop the pain, but what shoe would you recommend to get the most cushion as my heel hits the floor and my foot rocks forward? Is it the most cushion I am looking for or what? I know frequently what people think is the best is not. Thank you

  12. Knee Better says:

    I have a torn meniscus in one of my knees. Here lately I have noticed that my knee is much better and I want to cry. I wondered if it was because I was now wearing Merrell clogs almost all the time. I see that most of your articles suggest that clogs are not good for the knees but they are wonderful for my knees. I think it’s because the joint is held more stationary.

  13. Ann says:

    Please advise, what do you think of barefoot or grounding shoes, like Vivobarefoot or any grounding (leather bottomed) shoes? And specifically with knee pain or osteoarthritis.
    Thank you in advance

  14. Sue says:

    I have worn Dansko clogs for. Years it took me through waitressing bartending phlebotomy all requiring new to be on my feet. I did just have surgery for arthritis I my knee.
    But I still find them to be the most comfortable for my back

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