Chronic knee pain afflicts about a quarter of the American adult population. While there are many causes for it, it often gets worse as people age. No matter the nature of your knee pain, you may find relief by finding the best shoes for knee pain and using them in your active lifestyle.
Knee pain strikes in the form of dull aches, shooting pain, swelling and burning sensations. It can be worse in cold weather, after strenuous activity or last all day, every day.
What Causes Knee Pain?
In many cases, knee pain is the result of an injury to surrounding ligaments or torn cartilage. In other circumstances, it can be the result of other medical conditions such as:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Septic arthritis
Knee pain symptoms tend to get worse with age no matter the cause. People who have worked physically demanding jobs for long periods or who play contact sports are at a risk of developing it.
How Should I Choose Shoes for Knee Pain?
Orthopedic shoes for knee pain should have some flexibility in them. More rigid shoes don’t move with natural foot motion and put extra pressure on joints and may make pain worse. In addition, the best shoes for knee support have:
Shoes for knee pain should also increase stability while walking. Look for shoes with a rubber outsole and good tread that will provide grip as you walk. Stability also comes from proper insole arch support that will align the feet and knees.
Shoes that are too big cause the feet to slide around. Shoes that are too small put extra pressure and squeeze the feet. Shoes that are just right will be adjustable so you can have room where you need it and tighten things up where they’re looser. Well-fitting shoes can make a difference in your gait and prevent knee pain.
Plenty of cushioning all around. Cushioned insoles with state-of-the-art materials that absorb shock forces and disperse them lessen the impact of walking on any surfaces, especially hard ones. In addition, an outsole that incorporates a thick and sturdy construction with air pockets will also minimize stress on the feet and knees.
Anatomical insoles support the arches, establish proper gait and reduce overpronation. When the feet are aligned, the legs, knees and hips also align and function seamlessly and pain free.
An ergonomic sole can really help with walking motion. The bottom of the shoe is contoured which creates a rocking motion when you walk. Your feet, legs and knees exert less effort which leads to reduced knee pain.
When the shoes fit properly, it indirectly affects the knees. Straps, and laces ensure your feet sit correctly within the space and don’t slide around. This impacts the position of the feet, legs and knees and ensures good alignment and gait.
A rubber sole creates traction and stability when you walk helping to minimize impacts on the knees.
Shoes that don’t have much height differences between the rearfoot and forefoot are ideal as they minimize stress on the forefoot, which translates to less pain in the knees.
It’s not always easy to find shoes for knee pain since most brands only focus on the shoes looks. So, we have rounded up the best shoes for knee pain relief with those factors and features in mind.
Our Picks For The Best Women’s Shoes for Knee Pain
The best sneakers for knee pain have common characteristics. They're flexible, supportive and ensure the body is aligned from the ground up. Orthofeet's Coral stretch knit women's shoes fit all three criteria and more.
Made with stretchable knit fabric on the upper, they'll be your go to shoes when knee pain is at its worst. The 4-way stretch forms to your specific foot shape for a pressure free fit and is also ideal if you have other conditions, such as bunions, hammertoes, and foot swelling.
With the Ortho-Cushion system built in, people with knee pain will enjoy the stable yet gentle support.
They are lightweight and feel even lighter on the foot thanks to state-of-the-art materials and unique ergonomic sole that softens the strike at the heel and propels the foot forward for toe lift.
Combine that with removable fitting spacers for a shoe that stays in place and supports knees along the foot's most vulnerable pressure points.
A best seller, Coral is available in plenty of colors to match pretty much any outfit you wear.
And for those who don’t like to fumble with laces, the black upper with black sole is designed with a no tie lace that provides quick on/off wear. This is ideal for hand issues and those who have difficulty bending down.
Sandals not supportive and good for your knees like sneakers? Think again. The Malibu sandal is as supportive as it gets with a quarter strap design and built-in pain relief technology to keep your knee pain at bay.
3 adjustable straps in key areas allow you to create a custom fit for your particular feet and ensure they don’t slip and slide. Plus, they have a two-way strap system to let you open and close them from the inside of the shoe, making it painless on your knees and easy to access.
An orthotic insole props your arch, minimizes overpronation, and straightens the body, including the knees.
There’s plenty of cushioning all around starting from the outsole, midsole, and insole to dissipate any pounding your feet and knees are subjected to.
You will walk confidently in Malibu thanks to the special rubber sole and unique tread design that offer increased traction and grip on any surface.
Malibu is available in black, pewter, brown, and bone.
Add some style to your day to day and keep your knee pain in check with Sanibel. These cute mary janes offer plenty of customization for perfect fit and even more features to curb your knee pain.
Two adjustable straps make these shoes practically fit any foot shape. The instep strap has extra padding and feels great against the skin and can be lengthened or shortened for a high or low instep. Meanwhile, the strap across the heel is ideal for those who don’t fit out of the box shoes and need a little extra tailoring for their feet. For narrow feet, the strap can be tightened to prevent slippage and for wider heels or braces, it can be loosened for extra space and a more relaxed fit.
Even though they are a mary jane, they are designed with a unique silhouette that doesn’t squeeze the feet and toes. Extra depth, and a wide, round and tall toe box ensure maximum toe movement and support for proper gait to lessen knee pain. In addition, the combination of the orthotic insole, cushioning sole and mild rocker bottom design controls overpronation, aligns the body and facilitates foot motion to eliminate pain at the joints and knees.
Sanibel is available in black, olive gray and turquoise and starts from narrow up to extra extra wide in some colors.
Finding the right hiking boot for knee pain is a challenge. Many brands feature tall heels, stiff uppers and rigid arches that may make knee pain worse. Featuring a lower profile than most boots and softer yet more supportive components, the Delta waterproof women's boots prevent that.
This boot features a strong grip and anatomical arch support for challenging, rocky terrain. The outside is durable enough for almost any adventure, the inside is soft and flexible enough to keep knee pain away.
Made with a waterproof construction including treated leather uppers, sealed seams and gusseted tongue to prevent any water from seeping into them.
If chronic knee pain keeps you from enjoying your favorite hiking trails, these boots can make a huge difference. The mild rocker bottom sole will gently push your foot forward for an effortless hike.
Our Picks for The Best Men’s Shoes for Knee Pain
Men with knee pain need a soft, flexible shoe for everyday use. The Edgewater stretch knit shoe is the one.
The exterior of this shoe is made of malleable fabric that makes putting it on less of a pain and practically fits over any bump, bone or curve. It is also very breathable, keeping the air around your feet and toes fresh and odor free.
Surrounded by a wide toe box, toes have the freedom to move as they please. When the toes sit in place, without overlapping one another, the foot functions as it should, limiting knee pain.
With an ergonomic sole, anatomical arch support and padded heel cushion, this shoe provides relief from knee pain from the ground up. For people with knee pain caused by arthritis, this shoe balances comfort with stability.
Shoes without laces can feel loose and unsupportive — two things that may cause increased knee pain. However, people with chronic knee pain may experience reduced flexibility that makes shoe tying painful. The Sprint Tie-less tennis shoe is the answer to that predicament.
These shoes are some of the best walking shoes for knee pain because they're "tie-less" and not "lace-less." They create the look of a regular lace tennis shoe but without the hassle of tying laces thanks to the innovative hidden tabs on both sides of the shoe.
Whether you have a narrow heel, wide heel or wear a brace, Sprint will fit perfectly. Wearers can pull the heel strap to their desired tightness ensuring a no slip grip for a confident stride. Underneath, an anatomical arch, supportive cushioning and sturdy soles promote less impactful strides for greater knee pain relief.
If chronic knee pain keeps you from enjoying the outdoors, you need hiking boots specifically crafted to reduce knee pain. The Hunter orthotic men's boots feature premium insoles that cradle arches and cushion heels. Because stiff boots with elevated heels put unnecessary strain on shins and knees, flexible support with the rearfoot and forefoot on the same level is key.
Though the exterior is durable with a waterproof design, the interior is padded and gentle against the skin with soft linings and seam free interior. Padding around the upper and in the sole not only reduces friction on long hikes — it can reduce knee pain associated with walking on rocky, uneven surfaces. With Dryplex moisture wicking material inside, these boots stand up to wear and weather so your knees can, as well.
For the ultimate support and comfort during the warm weather season, Alpine is a top pick. The fisherman silhouette offers maximum coverage for the foot and protects the toes from injury. The multiple side cut outs maintains air flow and keeps the foot nice and cool when the thermometer climbs.
There are a few options to get in and out of these sandals, via the bungee toggle that can be tightened or loosened or by opening the back strap and sliding your foot in.
They are prefect for every day or outdoor adventures and will minimize knee pain no matter the activity because of their advanced biomechanical features. They include an orthotic insole and unique cushioning sole design to combat any foot, leg, knee, and back pain making them the best walking shoes for knee pain.
Alpine is available in black and brown.
Just because you're looking for the best shoes for knee pain relief doesn't mean you can't have something stylish. While Porto Canvas Men's shoes look like boat shoes on the outside, they're full of knee-pain relieving features other boat shoes lack.
Orthofeet’s pain relief technology designed within the shoe is a game changer. They offer a 60-day guarantee - “Walk pain free or your money back” so you can be sure you are getting a top-notch product guaranteed to ease knee pain. It features arch support, shock absorbing cushioning, heel pain relief and an ergonomic sole for an easier and better stride. Your feet will function properly and as a result, your knees will too.
Orthofeet's Porto shoes are designed with a functional lace that can be tied tightly or loosened if you need some breathing room. This means your shoes will stay on your feet, firm and secure and you will walk confidently.
The sole is made with a special rubber and unique tread design to channel water away and increase traction and grip. This will come in handy as you enjoy activities on various surfaces and conditions.
Porto is on trend made with a durable canvas upper fit for everyday or more dressed up occasions.
How Can I Stay Active and Relieve Knee Pain?
Especially for people with arthritis, exercise plays a vital role in relieving knee pain. However, it's important to find good shoes for knee pain before working out.
Some of the best exercises for knee pain include:
- Straight leg raises
- Hamstring curls
- Calf raises
- Half squats
- Leg presses
- Leg lifts
Many of these exercises can be done at home or the office. While exercise may cause some muscle soreness, quit and see a doctor if they cause sudden shooting pains or an inability to put weight on your knee. Keep in mind that this sudden pain might not even start in your knees. It may follow swollen ankles, achy arches and shin pain.