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Running for sport or fitness can be hard on your joints. In fact, it’s so common to have knee pain due to running that these injuries are broadly labeled as “runner’s knee.” These injuries can present pain on the outer (lateral) side of the knee, kneecap, or inner (medial) side of the knee.

While these issues are frustrating to deal with, they don’t have to last forever. Knee pain is often caused by something that can be corrected, such as footwear, muscle imbalances, running form, or training intensity. With the right shoes and targeted strength exercises, you can take the load off your knees for a happy, pain-free ride.

Saucony knows that every run starts with a supportive pair of shoes. Here’s some advice for choosing the right running shoes to ward off knee pain as well as tips for preventing future issues.


Can the wrong running shoes hurt your knees?

If you start to feel knee pain while you run, your shoes might be to blame. With each stride, your legs withstand a force of up to three times your body weight, which seriously strains your bones, muscles, and joints. Luckily, cushioning and structural details in running shoes help support your foot and arch, absorbing a lot of this shock.

If you’re a runner with bad knees, you should avoid low-profile, minimally cushioned shoes. Instead, seek out shoes with a higher heel-to-toe drop and thicker cushioning for maximum shock absorption, plus more arch and ankle support. If you suffer from inner knee pain, you might be overpronating (when your foot excessively rolls inward), and you should also consider a stability running shoe that will help keep your foot tracking forward.

Best running shoes for knee pain and knee arthritis

Before shopping for shoes to relieve knee pain and knee arthritis, you should first consult with a physical trainer or podiatrist to find out what works best for your body. Some runners might benefit from custom orthotic insoles, which help stabilize the arch and ankle and may relieve knee pain caused by excessive foot movement.

  • Triumph: If you crave maximum protection for your joints, this cushioned, neutral shoe can’t be beat. A 10mm heal-to-toe drop plus plush and springy PWRRUN+ foam cushioning allows you to push off powerfully but land softly. APMA Certified.*

Women’s Triumph                                Men’s Triumph

w triumph21    M Triumph 21

  • Ride: Like the Triumph, this is a neutral shoe, but it has an 8mm drop, features firmer PWRFOAM for a protective and responsive ride, and is slightly lighter than the Triumph. APMA Certified.*

Women’s Ride                                Men’s Ride

w Ride 16   m Ride 16

  • Tempus:  A structured shoe, the Tempus has more underfoot midsole contouring so you sit deeper into the footbed. This allows the shoe to hug your foot for a plush, supportive feel, top to bottom. APMA Certified.*


Women’s Tempus                        Men’s Tempus

w tempus 7 24 23  M Tempus 8 2 23

  • Guide: For a little more support, you should opt for this shoe. It features a subtle medial post to keep your foot tracking straight plus PWRRUN cushioning for just-right softness.

Women’s Guide                                Men’s Guide

w guide16.   m guide16

*The American Podiatric Medical Association, APMA Seal of Approval/Acceptance Program 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.

Sadly, running shoes don’t last forever. Once they become flattened or worn out, replace your running shoes as soon as possible because the compressed cushioning and broken-down support structures can leave you susceptible to injury.


How to prevent your knees from hurting while running

Besides choosing the right pair of shoes, the key to preventing knee pain is to stretch and strengthen the muscles and tendons surrounding the knee joint. If your hips, quads, hamstrings, or glutes are tight or weak, they aren’t as effective at absorbing shock and stabilizing you, which can result in irritated knees. To help avoid dreaded knee pain, add these key exercises to your weekly routine:

  • Figure-4 stretch: For runners with tight or weak hips and glutes (which can factor into knee pain), this stretch targets both. Lie on your back with one knee bent up and your foot planted on the ground. Cross your other ankle over the bent knee, forming a “figure 4” with your legs. Wrap your hands around your hamstring on the bent leg; pull the leg toward you until you feel a stretch. Repeat on the other leg.
  • Clamshells: This exercise strengthens your hips and quads while stabilizing your pelvic muscles, which are critical in preventing knee pain. Lie on your side with your knees bent and stacked on top of each other. Use your hips to open your top knee toward the sky, like a clamshell. Repeat 10 times on one leg, then switch sides. For a more advanced option, try it with a resistance band looped around your quads.
  • Glute bridges: This simple exercise works your hips and glutes and stretches your psoas, a deep core muscle that helps stabilize you while you run. Lie on your back with both knees bent toward the ceiling and your feet planted on the ground. Engage your core to raise your hips off the ground, forming a flat line from your chest to your knees. Lower down and repeat; try to do a set of 10-12.
  • Squats: While it might seem counterintuitive that squats help bad knees, they do. If done with proper form—with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and your ankles tracking directly below your knees—squats engage the glutes and quads to raise and lower you without adding pressure to your knees. Once you’re comfortable doing regular squats, you can try squat jumps, where you push off the ground each time you raise up. Work up to three sets of 12-15 squats.
  • Foam rolling: If you have pain on the outer side of your knee, it might be caused by a tight IT band (the tendon running from the side of your hip to your knee). To relieve the pain, lie on your side with your legs stacked and place a foam roller under your bottom leg near the top of your thigh. Slowly roll upward, letting the foam roller roll to the bottom of your thigh. Repeat back and forth, making sure to not roll over your hip or knee joints. Repeat for 30 seconds, then switch legs.

Along with regular stretching, foam rolling, and strength training, runners with knee issues should make sure to increase their mileage and intensity gradually, since knee pain is often caused by overuse. If you notice pain, it’s wise to reduce your mileage or rest until the pain subsides. In the meantime, you can cross-train with non-impact exercises like swimming.

Be nice to your knees

Along with regular stretching, foam rolling, and strength training, runners with knee issues should make sure to increase their mileage and intensity gradually, since knee pain is often caused by overuse. If you notice pain, it’s wise to reduce your mileage or rest until the pain subsides. In the meantime, you can cross-train with non-impact exercises like swimming.

With proper footwear, smart training, and routine stretching and strengthening, you can fend off pesky knee pain for good. Remember that knee pain is almost always caused by a weakness or tightness somewhere else, such as the hips, hamstrings, glutes, and quads. Power up these stabilizing muscles and your knees will thank you!

Find your perfect Saucony pair

Remember, every runner has individual needs and preferences, and you might need to try out a few different shoes before you find the ones that work for you. Having trouble picking a pair? The Saucony Shoe Finder is an online tool that will help you narrow down your options. You can also pop into your local running shoe store to have an expert fit you with shoes.

Want more Saucony scoop?

Be sure to keep checking the Saucony blog for tips and insights about shoes, training, racing, and more.

Ready to shop?

Shop the entire Saucony collection in sizes for men, women, and kids.

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