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We tabbed shoes from Brooks and New Balance as the best offerings for running and walking, but there are plenty of other solid options to choose from. Here’s a full breakdown of our top picks with prices and features.

Knee and back pain related to osteoarthritis (OA) can make moving your body uncomfortable, but choosing the right running or walking shoe can make a difference.

Healthcare professionals often recommend certain shoes as a way to self-manage OA knee pain. The type of shoes you wear is important for your feet as well as for your knees, hips, and back.

Still, osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee may require medication and rehabilitation, but the right choice of shoe can also go a long way. Keep reading for our best shoe recommendations for waking and running.

A 2018 research review showed that footwear may affect lower extremity pain in older adults with OA. The results suggested that shock-absorbing insoles and athletic footwear may be effective for reducing lower extremity joint pain from OA.

While everyone’s needs (and feet!) are different, people with knee and back pain generally benefit from supportive shoes that provide stability when walking and extra cushioning to reduce impact on the joints. The right fit and a roomy toe box also help with stability and comfort.

We’ve rounded up the best walking and running shoe brands for bad knees and OA pain, along with advice on how to make the right choice when shopping for a pair of shoes.

Our editors selected these shoes based on conversations with physical therapists and on user favorites, using the following criteria:

  • Features: We looked for expert-recommended features for OA pain, like cushioning and shock absorption, midsole support, and motion control.
  • Customer reviews: We chose these shoes because people with knee and back pain rate them highly for comfort.
  • Reputation: Medical professionals who treat OA have trusted most of these brands for years.
  • Sizing: We’ve included a broad range of lengths and widths.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $100
  • $$ = $101–$150
  • $$$ = over $150

Best for running

Brooks Glycerin GTS20

  • Price: $$$

Brooks running shoes, including the Brooks Glycerin GTS20, are a top expert pick for stability and comfort.

The Brooks Glycerin GTS20 takes the popular Glycerin series and adds more support to help reduce joint impact. The shoe features extra cushioning and Brooks GuideRails technology to limit excess movement for support that aids your knees, hips, and feet.


  • The motion control reduces knee and ankle pain.
  • These shoes have stable cushion.
  • They have a spacious toe box.
  • They feature breathable mesh construction.


  • These running shoes are heavier.
  • There’s a slower response time.

Best for walking

New Balance 577v1

  • Price: $

New Balance shoes are highly recommended for those with knee pain. Many New Balance walking styles, especially the 577v1, offer two features that experts recommend for people with OA: cushioning and motion control.

According to the New Balance website, the 577v1 is also approved Medicare/HCPCS code A5500 and may be eligible for Medicare reimbursement.

The 577v1’s motion control features are also helpful for folks with back and knee pain, by limiting rotation that can move up to your knees and spine.


  • These shoes are shock absorbing.
  • They feature durable leather.
  • The shoes have stable cushion.
  • They are also available with hook and loop velcro.


  • The arch support may not be enough for high arches.
  • The materials aren’t vegan.
  • They’re not designed for running.

Best cushioned support

HOKA Bondi 8

  • Price: $$$

One of HOKA’s most cushioned styles, the Bondi 8 has favorable reviews from people with foot, knee, and back pain.

Plush, lightweight foam cushions your feet for all-day comfort and helps absorb impact while running on hard pavement. A memory foam collar helps cradle the ankle for additional motion control and comfort, while a rear crash pad helps you stay balanced as you transition from the heel to forefoot.

The Bondi 8 is also backed by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) Seal of Acceptance, which means that the shoe is considered beneficial to foot health.


  • These shoes feature a lightweight foam cushion.
  • The materials are vegan and recycled.
  • They have the APMA Seal of Acceptance.
  • These shoes have a heel pull tab.


  • They may feel too cushioned.
  • The shoes have a bulky look.

Best lightweight

Asics Gel-Nimbus 25

  • Price: $$$

Runners and walkers who have knee pain rave about the ASICS Gel-Nimbus. The gel offers cushion and support, but also helps the shoe stay lightweight.

ASICS Gel technology paired with additional cushion offer shock absorption without too much weight. The Gel-Nimbus also offer motion control with a rigid heel and knit tongue that goes around the ankle


  • These shoes offer high arch support.
  • They’re lightweight and have stable cushion.
  • They feature a breathable mesh construction.


  • These shoes may feel too padded.
  • Some reviewers say the shoes run small.

Most affordable orthotics alternative

Vionic Walker Classic

  • Price: $$

Reviewers with OA swear by the Vionic Walker Classic to reduce back and knee pain when walking.

Featuring Active Motion System (AMS) technology, the shoe offers a cushioned outsole and breathable upper for improved motion control.

The Vionic Walker Classic also features Vionic Technology, a podiatrist-designed orthotic that gives support without a prescription.

The shoe offers additional stabilization features like grippy rubber outsoles and firm thermoplastic heel. The Vionic Walker Classic also has the APMA Seal of Acceptance.


  • These shoes have podiatrist-designed removable orthotics.
  • The breathable, moisture-wicking mesh liner reduces foot odor.
  • These shoes have the APMA Seal of Acceptance.


  • The shoes may feel too stiff.
  • The style can look bulky.

Best women’s slip-on

Skechers GOwalk Joy

  • Price: $

Skechers shoes are known for their ability to flex and twist, promoting a natural stride when you walk.

Skechers GOwalk Joy is an especially popular option for those with knee problems. The GOwalk Joy is a lightweight slip-on featuring a roomy forefoot, breathable mesh upper, and three layers of cushion.

Lightweight 5GEN cushioning makes the shoe more responsive, while the Goga Max insole helps with rebound. The Ortholite comfort foam layer provides additional cushion and breathability, but without too much weight.


  • These shoes are lightweight.
  • They feature an easy slip-on design.
  • They are machine washable.
  • The materials are vegan.


  • The shoe may feel too flimsy.
  • There’s limited motion control.
  • They’re only available in women’s sizes.

Best for joint and foot pain

Gravity Defyer GDEFY Energiya

  • Price: $$$

All of Gravity Defyer’s shoes are designed to help relieve pain. The GDEFY Energiya includes VersoShock technology to cushion the foot, plus a VersoCloud spring cell sole for additional cushion and shock absorption.

A 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association found folks who wore shoes with VersoShock Technology dealt with 85% less knee pain.

The shoes also feature podiatrist-grade orthotics for full-body alignment and support and has a spacious toe box for additional stability and comfort. The rolling forefoot design also helps take pressure off the toes and joints as your transition from heel to forefoot.


  • They feature a plush, responsive cushion.
  • They have removable insoles.
  • They have a front pull tab.
  • The toe box is roomy.


  • Some reviews say they take a while to break in.
  • The heel can feel too springy or make a clicking noise.
  • It’s a heavier shoe.

Best for mild stability

Nike Air Zoom Structure 24

  • Price: $$

The Nike Structure 24 offers the support and cushion needed to avoid knee pain but without the bulk and stiff stabilization. Zoom Air cushioning helps you push off as you stride and absorb impact.

A firm midsole also helps support your foot as you pound the pavement, while the grooves along the sole help give the shoe more flex.

The shoe is also made of breathable materials and flexible elastic banding inside the shoe helps keep your foot in place. The cushioned insole is also removable if you need to use orthotics instead.


  • These shoes have responsive, plush cushion.
  • They’re flexible.
  • These shoes feature foot support.


  • They may not stabilize your ankle enough.
  • They may feel too flexible.

Best men’s slip on

Merrell Jungle Moc

  • Price: $–$$

Known for their outdoorsy style and function, Merrell’s Jungle Moc offers extra cushioning and support that appeal to walkers and hikers with arthritis.

The grippy Merrell Air Cushion in the heel helps absorb shock and keep you stable, while overall traction helps you stick to uneven and smooth terrain. Lightweight EVA foam adds additional cushion in the midsole and footbed.

For a suede leather shoe, the Jungle Moc is surprisingly breathable with mesh lining, and includes a natural odor control treatment to ward off stink. The shoe is available in women’s and men’s sizing.


  • They have durable traction.
  • They have a lightweight foam cushion.
  • The shoes feature a stretchy slip-on design.
  • These shoes have a breathable mesh lining.
  • They’re water resistant.


  • The materials aren’t vegan.
  • It may take a while to break in the shoes.
  • They’re only designed for walking and hiking.

Best budget

Saucony Cohesion 15

  • Price: $

Running shoes are often pricey, but the Saucony Cohesion 15 shoes can offer support and cushion without the high price tag.

These shoes feature Saucony’s VERSARUN cushion that helps relieve pressure and absorb impact.

The breathable mesh upper also helps hug the foot and a firm midsole gives support without feeling stiff. Grippy outsoles help up your traction on various surfaces, whether walking or running.


  • They have a supportive midsole.
  • The cushion is shock absorbing.
  • These shoes feature breathable mesh materials.
  • They have a low price.
  • They’re available in wide sizes.


  • The narrow toe box can feel crowded.

ShoePriceStyleFeatures and highlights
Brooks Glycerin GTS20$$$laced running shoe– high cushion
– motion control technology
– breathable construction
New Balance 577v1$laced walking shoe– high cushion
– motion control technology
– Medicare reimbursement eligible
HOKA Bondi 8$$$laced running shoe– high cushion
– lightweight
– APMA Seal of Acceptance
Asics Gel-Nimbus 25$$laced running shoe– medium cushion
– lightweight
– breathable construction
Vionic Walker Classic$$laced walking shoe– high cushion
– podiatrist-designed orthotic
– APMA Seal of Acceptance
Skechers GOwalk Joy$slip-on walking shoe– high cushion
– lightweight
– breathable construction
Gravity Defyer GDEFY Energiya$$$laced cross trainer– high cushion
– roomy toe box
– springy sole
Nike Structure 24$$laced running shoe– medium cushion
– flexible
– breathable construction
Merrell Jungle Moc$-$$slip-on walking and hiking shoe– medium cushion
– lightweight
– water resistant
Saucony Cohesion 15$laced running shoe– medium cushion
– foot hugging design
– breathable construction

It’s important to understand that not everyone’s needs are the same.

“When shopping for walking or running shoes, it’s important to consider the fact that each individual may vary in terms of the type and location of arthritis in their knees,” says Dr. Miho J. Tanaka, assistant professor of orthopedic surgery and the director of the women’s sports medicine program at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

She recommends using assessments offered at athletic shoe stores.

“There are different compartments in the knee that can be affected, and depending on those, different types of support may help offload the affected parts of the knee,” she says.


“People with osteoarthritis generally do best with highly cushioned shoes, and in general, the highest cushioning you can get is from running shoes. The cushion is all about shock absorption,” says Jessica McManus, a physical therapist and owner of Full Circle PT and Wellness.

Look for shoes with cushioned midsoles and multiple layers of foam that give a plush feel with enough support. These shoes often have a platform sole.

Motion control

Motion control is important to avoid knee and back pain. “This means the shoe helps to limit how much rotational movement and/or flex the shoe has, hence limiting potentially painful accessory movement further up the chain, into the ankle, knees, hips, and spine,” McManus says.

Look for shoes that help support the foot in a neutral position and align the body from ankle to knee to hips. People who overpronate, meaning the way you walk or run strains your arches and flattens your feet, also really benefit from motion control.

Arch support

When it comes to footwear for pain, arch support should be a priority.

“It is crucial to decrease the pressure from your feet to your knees, doing this will also impact any hips and back issues,” says Dr. Brad Schaeffer, a podiatrist and board certified foot and ankle surgeon who’s featured on the TLC show “My Feet Are Killing Me.”

“I like to start with the arch support and make sure that the patient’s arch is properly supported with insoles, like Dr. Scholl’s, or for people with more significant problems, custom orthotics,” Schaeffer adds.

Back and knee pain are common signs of osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis in the United States. OA is a degenerative joint disease and symptoms like pain, swelling, and stiffness in your joints can worsen over time.

“Shoes should not be relied upon as the sole source of support for an arthritic knee,” Tanaka says. “Rehabilitation and anti-inflammatories often play the key role in symptomatic relief, but a well fitting, supportive shoe may help reduce stress on the knees during activities.”

If you experience any of the following symptoms of OA, see a healthcare professional:

  • joint pain or aches
  • stiff joints
  • decreased range of motion
  • swelling around your joints

Age, genetics, and joint overuse can all increase your risk of developing OA. But, seeing a healthcare professional for treatment can help you manage pain with physical therapy and medications.

What are the best shoes to wear if you have arthritis in your feet?

Schaeffer stands by his picks for knee pain (Asics, Brooks, and HOKA) when it comes to other types of pain too. In general, shoes for arthritic feet should include cushion and arch support.

What are the best insoles for osteoarthritis?

“I am a big fan of Dr. Scholl’s insoles… Osteoarthritis knee pain is due to wear and tear. If you support your feet properly, it will alleviate pain everywhere: your feet, knees, hips, and lower back,” Schaeffer says.

How do you choose the right amount of arch support?

If you’re daunted by the arch support options available and worried about just how much you need, the answer isn’t a specific product or height. Instead focus on finding arch support that puts your foot in a neutral position.

Are there any shoe styles that people with arthritis should avoid?

According to Schaeffer, people with arthritis should avoid any shoe that’s flat or doesn’t have cushioning. A lack of support in your feet can have a cascading effect on your whole body and lead to additional pain over time.

Can walking make osteoarthritis worse?

The short answer is yes. “Whenever you have osteoarthritis, it is due to wear and tear, and it can definitely be made worse,” Schaeffer says.

However, it can get a little better when you move around with proper footwear. It’s important to create a good foundation for your feet, and that will, in turn, support your whole body more efficiently.

Investing in a pair of comfortable running or walking shoes is important for everyone, but especially for those with knee or back pain. Whether you want a walking or a running shoe to alleviate pain, look for designs that offer arch support, cushion, and motion control.

Still, even the best pair of shoes won’t solve all your knee problems. It’s important to consult a healthcare professional if you have OA or knee and back pain to help set up other treatments, and potentially get fitted for custom orthotics.