Runners Knee Linked to Running Shoes with Cushioning

Pretty soon, more and more recreational runners will accept that runners knee stems from running shoes with cushioning, simply because analyses of many findings lead to questions about the role of maximum cushioned running shoes in protecting the knee.

Runners Knee Linked to Cushioned Running Shoes

Runners Knee Linked to Cushioned Athletic Footwear

Contrary to conventional wisdom, cushioning in a running shoe is a potential risk factor for knee pain, particularly cushioning under the heel.

  • Kerrigan et al.  (2009) found that a thick heeled running shoe increased knee flexion torque and compressive loading within a range where degenerative changes occur at the knee-joint.

An explanation for this is that excessive cushioning creates difficulty for the central nervous system to detect changes in surface dimensions or hardness to optimize foot strike behavior.

It gets worse. Heel cushioning of a running shoe influences over-striding, impairs foot-placement awareness, and leads to a greater exchange of momentum with the ground, all of which causes the knee to take a beating.

Many studies are putting heel strike running along with the thick heeled footwear heel strikers wear, in a sorry situation.

Though, it is tempting to jump to conclusions and state that knee pain is caused by heel strike running, the bright side is, forefoot strike running in minimalist running shoes reduce knee pain.

Forefoot runners who are either barefoot runners or minimalist runners, are less likely to over-stride and generate compressive loading and knee-joint torque.

In the case of protecting your knees when running, less is certainly more when it comes to running shoes.

More From Run Forefoot


De Wit et al. (2000). Biomechanical analysis of the stance phase during barefoot and shod running. J Biomech, 33, 269-78.

Kerrigan et al.  (2009). The Effect of Running Shoes on Lower Extremity Joint Torques. PM&R 12, 1058-1063

Bretta Riches

"I believe the forefoot strike is the engine of endurance running..."

BSc Neurobiology; MSc Biomechanics candidate, ultra minimalist runner & founder of RunForefoot. I was a heel striker, always injured. I was inspired by the great Tirunesh Dibaba to try forefoot running. Now, I'm injury free. This is why I launched Run Forefoot, to advocate the health & performance benefits of forefoot running and to raise awareness on the dangers of heel striking, because the world needs to know.
Bretta Riches


  1. What brand(s) & model(s) of running shoes do you recommend for those with knee pain?

  2. What brand(s) & model(s) of running shoes do you recommend for those with knee pain?

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