I’ve Tried 100 Running Shoes, but Always Return to This Pair to Manage My Chronic Knee Pain

They always keep me comfortable and supported, even after 12 miles of running.

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After my first Thanksgiving 5K, I fell in love with running, and eventually graduated to competing in 10Ks, half marathons, and even an Iron Man that included a 26.2-mile jog. As fun and rewarding  as long-distance running has become, the road to achieving high mileage has been anything but easy — mostly because I suffer from chronic knee pain. 

According to a 2006 survey from the CDC, 18 percent of respondents experience some form of knee pain, and a 2018 article from the Academy of Family Physicians noted that the prevalence of this condition has increased by 65 percent over the last 20 years. All this is to say that I’m not alone. However, this joint issue remains tricky to manage and highly disruptive, especially for those trying to stay active.

As a fitness and shopping writer for Shape I’ve (literally) tried out close to 100 running shoes. However, when it comes to protecting my knees while training, I always return to a supportive style that’s been around for decades: The Asics Gel-Kayanos

Asics Gel-Kayano 29 Key Features:

How I tested: I’ve been running in this new iteration of the Gel Kayanos for about two months, and typically log about 20 to 30 miles a week, with longer jogs spanning up to 12 miles. I’ll also pop these lace-ups on to stay comfortable during busy days with lots of walking and standing. 

Perfect for: People who run or walk on a daily basis looking to prevent knee pain, those willing to sacrifice a “lightweight feel” for enhanced stability and padding. 

What you’ll love: In addition to responsive, shock-absorbing padding, this sneaker incorporates a firm sponge on the inner side of the midsole to prevent overpronation.

Keep in mind: The mesh outer on Asics sneakers makes them super breathable but very prone to developing holes and the toe area. Additionally, at 10.5 ounces per shoe, these lace-ups are definitely on the heavier side.

ASICS GEL-Kayano 29


Buy It: $160, zappos.com, nordstrom.com, and amazon.com

Asics Gel-Kayano 29 Review

The Gel-Kayano style, which launched back in the ‘90s, was first recommended to me by my mom, an experienced marathoner and former sneaker expert for big names like Reebok and Adidas. Since then, I’ve cycled through different versions of the style for about a decade, and have found the 29s to be the best update yet. 

Thanks to layers of soft, springy padding on the midsole, each stride feels like stepping on a trampoline. In addition to running, I love to wear them for errands because they feel so pillowy soft on my feet, even after multiple hours of standing and walking. The grooved bottoms are grippy enough to keep me from slipping, even on wet pavement, and the cushioning around the tongue and collar effectively prevent blisters. In fact, I found that these shoes were incredibly comfortable right out of the box and required almost no break-in time. 

What really sets these sneakers apart is the stabilizing feature in the midsole designed to prevent overpronation, a common gate issue where your foot rotates inward, causing a twisting motion in your leg that puts stress on your knee joint. This stress can cause persistent pain and even long-term damage if left unchecked. As an overpronator myself, I’ve found that these shoes help to correct my stride and relieve the pressure on my arch and knees I feel while running in other shoes.

I currently have nine pairs of road running sneakers in my closet, but reach for these sneakers more than any other. They allow me to run for miles without any pain and keep my sensitive joints from feeling sore when the workout is over. If knee discomfort is keeping you from enjoying running and walking, I can’t recommend these supportive shoes enough. You can shop them for $160 at Zappos, Nordstrom, and Amazon.

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