The 12 Best Cushioned Running Shoes Of 2022 For Peak Performance *And* Comfort
Pounding the pavement can be rough the on feet. The impact is real—but cushioned running shoes can soften the blow. These sneaks are an amazing asset for runners of all levels. Not only will your feet feel so comfy, proper cushioning is also associated with improved running performance and reduced muscle damage, according to a new study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
“Cushioned shoes can help a runner use less precious energy to run at the same pace/intensity level,” says Laura Norris, running coach in Boulder, Colorado. “While heavily cushioned shoes do not necessarily protect against all running-related injuries (see this 2018 study in Scientific Reports), a plush cushion can reduce impact forces while running.”
The added cushion acts like shocks in your car or bike. “Depending on the individual’s foot type, a cushioned shoe could be very helpful and beneficial to Brooks Sneakers keep a runner comfortable and to mitigate injuries,” says Mark Mendeszoon, DPM, a board-certified podiatrist and foot and ankle surgeon at Precision Orthopaedic Specialties in Chardon, Ohio, and owner of Achilles Running Shops. “Cushioned shoes absorb a great amount of stress.”All running shoe brands have developed their own cushioning systems and technology, according to Dr. Mendeszoon. That means there’s a sneaker just for your feet and running style.
Without further ado, here are the top 12 cushioned running shoes, as recommended by running coaches and podiatrists.
Fresh Foam 880 V12
- Great midsole cushioning
- Wide toe box
- Style runs small
Type of Cushion: Fresh Foam X | Size range: 5-13 | Colors: 5
Expert Intel: “A great everyday trainer or long run shoe. It’s lighter than previous 880 versions, but feels bouncier and more comfortable. A wider toe box is also helpful for those who need it,” says Tammy Whyte, running coach and part-time employee at Fleet Feet Chicago. (See more colors available at New Balance.)
Rave Review: “I ordered this shoes after going to my local running store. I have never been able to run without my feet and shin splints hurting. These shoes are a godsent.” -Dani, newbalance.com
- Responsive gel cushioning
- Soft tongue forms to your foot
- Not made for wider feet
Type of Cushion: FF BLAST PLUS | Size range: 5-13 | Colors: 9
Expert Intel: “These shoes have the most cushioning and great shock absorption,” says Dr. Mendeszoon. He recommends them for longer training runs and races.
Rave Review: “These shoes put a new spring in my step! They are so comfortable with so much support. I love them.” -JoJoBean, zappos.com
- Lightweight cushioning
- Good for narrow feet
- Style runs big
Cushion: PWRRUN | Size range: 5-12 | Colors: 8
Expert Intel: “This shoe is also a great everyday trainer, with a smooth ride and a moderate amount of cushion,” says Whyte. “The 15 has a slightly more narrow toe box than the 14, which may be a challenge for some runners.”
Rave Review: “Extremely comfortable and beautiful shoe! Great for people who supinate.” -Stephanie, saucony.com
- Wide toe box
- Secure fit
- Natural foot position feels foreign at first
Cushion: Altra EGO foam | Size range: 5.5-12 | Colors: 7
Expert Intel: “This shoe, like all Altra shoes, is made to fit the shape of your foot so it has a wider toe box so feet can splay naturally,” says Whyte. “I like running in these for shorter runs and when I want a little different feel to my run [as it works your calves a bit more than a traditional shoe with the balanced cushioning].”
Rave Review: “This is the most comfortable sneaker I have ever worn. Sorel Sneakers Any other sneaker that I have had, you can’t wait to take them off at the end of the day. I have wide feet, bunions and a hammer toe and this sneaker lets your feet breathe and you do not feel confined. I will absolutely buy this again. Very satisfied customer.” – Maggie, amazon.com
- Supportive cushioning
- Reviewers note they wear out quicker
Cushion: Fresh Foam midsole | Size range: 5-12 | Colors: 8
Expert Intel: “This shoe has a lot of cushion but is really light and has a lower heel-toe drop, as well,” says Whyte. “I like to use these for speed workouts and shorter efforts.”
Rave Review: “New Balance makes solid running sneakers. The Fresh Foam line puts a premium on cushioning that is appreciated by those looking for a softer foot strike while running or walking. These are a good alternative sneaker for easy or recovery runs.” – Space Scientist, amazon.com
- Max cushioning
- Great shock absorption
- Can feel chunky
Cushion: Full-length EVA midsole | Size range: 5-11 | Colors: 10
Expert Intel: “There are several on the market that I would considered ‘most cushioned’ and that I grab when I’m helping customers at Fleet Feet,” says Whyte. “Any Hoka is more cushioned, with the Bondi having one of the biggest stack heights.
Rave Review: “These shoes fit perfectly and they kept me comfortable all day long!! The are light and the cushioning is amazing! They’re literally the most comfortable tennis shoes I’ve ever worn.” -Kamye, zappos.com
- Plenty of toe box space
- Great stability
- May rub the back of ankles
Cushion: DNA LOFT | Size range: 5-12 | Colors: 12
Expert Intel: “This shoe is well-cushioned without overdoing it, and it’s great for everyday runs or long runs,” says Whyte.
Rave Review: “These are my go-to shoes. I have plantar fasciitis and these are the most comfortable shoes I’ve been able to find. They also help with back pain and knee pain caused by my foot problems.” -sb, amazon.com
Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit
- High-quality, plush cushioning
- Extremely lightweight
- Higher price
Cushion: ZoomX foam | Size range: 5-12 | Colors: 6
Expert Intel: “Great daily trainer with a very soft cushioned midsole, wide heel base, and maximal energy return,” says Dr. Bui. “If you love the Nike Vaporfly Next’s and Alpha Fly’s for its cushioning, you will love the Invincible Run for your everyday trainer.”
Rave Review: “Wore for marathon training (+marathon) These shoes offer tons of cushioning and support without feeling heavy, great for protecting your body when the mileage gets high and keeping your running comfortable. I’m on my third pair – love these!” -Maggie M., nike.com
- Lightweight, plush cushioning
- Durable materials
- Style runs narrow
Cushion: Compression molded EVA midsole | Size range: 5-11 | Colors: 11
Expert Intel: “Maximal cushioning shoe, lightweight (7.2 oz), with a wide midsole that provides foot stability,” says Dr. Bui. “Great durability and is versatile for short or long runs.”
And Norris is also a fan. “There’s a reason this shoe is so popular amongst runners – it provides plush cushion in a lightweight package.
Rave Review: “These are nice and cushy! They fit perfectly and feel very comfortable standing or walking or sitting. I am happy as a clam!” -Kimberly, zappos.com
Endorphin Speed 2
- Responsive cushioning
- Lightweight design
- Style is less supportive
Cushion: PWRRUN PB cushioning | Size range: 5-12 | Colors: 10
Expert Intel: “Firm cushioned shoe that is responsive, smooth, and lightweight,” says Dr. Bui. “This shoe is versatile and can handle interval runs to long tempo workouts.”
Rave Review:“Super light and comfy, like walking on a cloud but with support. worth the price in having my feet feel good casually as well as when exercising.” -Jen, zappos.com
- Wide variety of colors
- Neutral support
- Carbon neutral
- Style runs narrow
Cushion: DNA LOFT | Size range: 5-13 | Colors: 28
Expert Intel: “Moderate-soft cushioned shoe with great upper fit and smooth transitions,” says Dr. Bui. “This is a great daily trainer for runners of any level.”
Rave Review: “I love the extra support these shoes give when I’m running or lifting weights. I can especially tell in my knees.” -Latisha, zappos.com
- Great for rough surfaces
- Springy feel
- Less arch support
Cushion: PWRRUN PB | Size range: 5.5-12 | Colors: 6
Expert Intel: “This shoe blends a plush cushion with a snappy energy return,” says Norris. “These shoes feel cushioned enough for long runs yet snappy enough for a marathon training workout. The cushion is generally plush, but also holds up well on surfaces such as gravel and dirt roads.”
Rave Review: “Great sneakers – super comfy and supportive without being overly structured.” -Tortoise, zappos.com
What kind of cushioning is best for running?
There are two types of cushioning experts recommend looking for. Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) and supercritical nitrogen foam are top picks from Anh Bui, PT, CSCS, run coach at Run Resiliently DPT. “EVA is the most basic form material, however it is Keen Shoes For Women inexpensive and has lower durability,” she says. “Supercritical nitrogen foam uses nitrogen to create pores within the foam to create a lightweight, firm, and resilient midsole, however it is more expensive.”
Where the cushioning matters most is the midsole, according to Mendeszoon. “Higher levels of cushioning can get higher mileage, and range from 350-550 miles.”
Are cushioned running shoes good for running?
Yes, cushioned shoes are good for running as long as they are comfortable for the individual runner. In a 2021 meta-analysis in European Journal of Sports Science, the most economical and protective shoes are found to be the ones runners feel most comfortable in. Your personal biomechanics, weight/height, type of paths you run on, and total volume of running all impact what will feel best for you. “Some runners may feel more comfortable in highly cushioned shoes; others may feel best in smaller amounts of cushioning,” says Norris.
What’s the best cushioned running shoe?
It’s on this list, but the best one for you depends on your foot and running style. If you can get evaluated by a professional and undergo a proper biomechanical exam, it can really help determine what type of shoe is best for you, says Mendeszoon.
And your fave route also matters for shoe selection. “The surface will impact which type of cushioning is best,” says Norris. “If you plan on running on the roads, a plush cushion can be favorable. However, if you run often on dirt trails, you will want a firmer cushion in your shoe. Trails are softer and thus have less energy return, which a firmer cushion offers. A firm cushion also gives more stability on technical trails.”