While I was looking for good footwear, someone suggested I get the best cushioned running shoes! However, I read up on different studies that recommend less cushioning, which had me confused as to what to get. As I continued to delve into the benefits and uses of cushioned shoes, the more I saw why people needed these kinds of shoes.
Don’t worry, I compiled all the research to lessen your confusion. So if you were recommended cushioned shoes for your runs, read on! I’ll be talking about who needs cushioned shoes, how to choose a pair, and my top choices for both men and women.
- 1 6 Best Cushioned Running Shoes For Men
- 1.1 1. The Soft and Well-Cushioned: Brooks Ghost 10 Running Shoes
- 1.2 2. The Speedy and Quality Soles: Salomon Speedcross 3 Trail Running Shoes
- 1.3 3. The Smooth and Plush: ASICS Gel Nimbus 18 Running Shoes
- 1.4 4. The Breathable and Lightweight: HOKA ONE ONE Bondi 5 Running Shoes
- 1.5 5. The Flexible and Supportive: Saucony Triumph ISO 3 Running Shoes
- 1.6 6. The Flashy Yet No-Frills: Saucony Triumph ISO 2 Running Shoes
- 2 6 Best Cushioned Running Shoes For Women
- 2.1 1. The Comfy and Stable: Brooks Ghost 9 Running Shoes
- 2.2 2. The Special Cushioning and Durable: Saucony Cohesion 11 Running Shoes
- 2.3 3. The Attractive and Snug Fit: ASICS Gel-Nimbus 18 Running Shoes
- 2.4 4. The Well-Ventilated and Natural Feel: HOKA ONE ONE Bondi 5 Running Shoes
- 2.5 5. The Strong and Amazing Construction: Saucony Triumph ISO 3 Running Sneakers
- 2.6 6. The Well-Padded and Excellent Control: Saucony Ride 9 Running Shoes
- 3 Why Do You Need Cushioned Running Shoes?
- 4 How to Choose the Best Cushioned Running Shoes
- 5 Running Comfortably: Bonus Tips to Follow
- 6 Frequently Asked Questions: Cushioned Running Shoes
- 7 Wrapping It Up
6 Best Cushioned Running Shoes For Men
1. The Soft and Well-Cushioned: Brooks Ghost 10 Running Shoes
The best cushioned running shoes go to the Brooks Ghost 10 for men because of its simple yet durable construction. While it isn’t the cheapest, it comes moderately priced with excellent value for a pair of cushioned running shoes. It has extra padding around the tongue and collar for overall comfort, as well as the strong material to last longer.
Besides this, it offers a smoother ride with its stability features and extra cushioning. It feels like you’re on a cloud but still has you run with proper posture. Plus, what makes this a great choice is its snug fit, staying true to size to prevent any sizing problems and returns.
- It stays true to its size and fit, snug feel
- Sturdy and comfortable soles with extra cushioning
- Smooth ride and promotes natural running posture
- Complaints of the heel material pilling quickly
- Some may find it a bit too firm for their liking
2. The Speedy and Quality Soles: Salomon Speedcross 3 Trail Running Shoes
If your main focus is on sped and sprint runs, then I recommend that Saloon Speedcross 3 Trail Running Shoe. Not only does it have the soft padding, but it’s also rugged with the solid construction, truly made for the trail. The shoes are made with a water-resistant and anti-debris mesh, which ensures that your feet stay dry and free from discomfort in case you step or come across small rocks.
Besides this, the shoes come with an Ortholite insole to accommodate any orthotics needs, as well as the Dual-Density EVA midsole, which adds more padding and comfort as you run.
- It’s truly made for the trail and will last for a long time
- Great for sprints and speed runs with its soft yet stable midsole
- Has a water-resistant and anti-debris mesh with contragrip soles
- It doesn’t offer as much extra cushioning compared to others
- Better designed for the trail compared to road running
3. The Smooth and Plush: ASICS Gel Nimbus 18 Running Shoes
ASICS is known for its excellent quality shoes made for all types of terrain. For the Gel Nimbus, this is one of their newest and upgraded models, coming with all the necessary features at a more moderate price. Its soles are made with the extra and quality padding, all made with soft and supportive material to keep your feet comfortable the entire run.
It’s for a FluidRide midsole and upper, as well as a GEL cushioning systems. That way, it has maximum impact absorption and has better flexibility as your feet transition.
- Moderate price for an ASICS shoe with quality cushioned soles
- Flexible and with maximum shock absorption, adapting to your feet
- Has the glove-like fit and stays snug, no discomfort felt
- Some complaints about its durability and overall lifespan
- It’s better off used for short distances and the road
4. The Breathable and Lightweight: HOKA ONE ONE Bondi 5 Running Shoes
HOKA ONE ONE is a growing brand with the Bondi 5 well-known for its extra durability and cushioning. I love its 3D Puff Print Frame, which offers even more padding compared to other types of running shoes around. Besides this, it also promotes less pain and chances of injury, especially for those who have feet conditions like plantar fasciitis.
It comes with an ortholite insole and meta-rocker, which provides even more cushioning and arch support to keep your feet transitions natural to run even longer. From its breathable upper to its EVA cushioning, it’s definitely worth the long-term purchase.
- Extra padding and cushioning with an ortholite insole
- Provides better arch support to lessen chances of injury
- Amazing and soft cushioning for comfort on any terrain
- It has a very expensive price but with good value
- The sole may detach, may be a factory defect
5. The Flexible and Supportive: Saucony Triumph ISO 3 Running Shoes
For those who need the balance of flexibility and support, then you’ll appreciate the Saucony Triumph ISO 3. It’s the most updated version from the ISO series, coming with the advanced technology to make it more comfortable and sturdy for successful runs. It’s one of the most versatile, using it for sprints or long-distance runs in just about any terrain.
This technical running shoe is made with soft inner sleeves and an Everun insole for soft and responsive cushioning, conforming to your feet shape. Plus, it comes with the stretchy and breathable mesh upper to accommodate your feet and fit snugly.
- Snug fit with its stretch upper and better support heels
- Meant to last for a long time, doesn’t wear out easily
- Responsive cushioning that conforms to your foot shape
- It might wear out faster with heavier or muscular runners
- Long-distance runners may need to order half a size bigger
6. The Flashy Yet No-Frills: Saucony Triumph ISO 2 Running Shoes
Last but not least, we have the Saucony Triumph ISO 2 Running Shoes. It’s the predecessor from the ISO 3, this time coming with the similar features at a more affordable price. Sure, the ISO 3 has much more cushioning, but if you’re focusing more on simplicity at an affordable price, this will do just fine.
It has a flashy design and with enough cushioning that promotes comfort wherever you run. However, I highly recommend that you only use it for the track, road or the treadmill! It holds up well and does take time before you break into it, but it’s still a sound investment.
- Comes at a moderate price for running shoes
- It has a simple yet flashy design for style
- Good cushioning for better comfort and shock absorption
- They wear out easily when used on tough trails and roads
- It will take a while to break into the shoes
6 Best Cushioned Running Shoes For Women
1. The Comfy and Stable: Brooks Ghost 9 Running Shoes
What makes the Brooks Ghost 9 a worthy investment is its amazing cushioning. This is why it’s my editor’s choice in the best cushioned running shoes, as it has the extra padding in the right areas. That way, when running, there’s no problem with shock absorption and maintaining the correct running posture.
They’re one of the most comfortable shoes you’ll ever wear, as its padding is made with the quality foam and would conform to your feet. It also has a good heel-to-toe drop, which allows you to land on your feet more naturally to lessen the risk of injuries. While a bit pricier, you can’t go wrong with a pair of Brooks running shoes!
- Amazing padding and cushioning for maximum shock absorption
- Works well in any terrain and made of waterproof mesh
- It’s great for long distances and is built to last
- It comes at a more expensive price
- There are some complaints about the toe guard
2. The Special Cushioning and Durable: Saucony Cohesion 11 Running Shoes
Another well-cushioned and affordable running shoe goes out to the Saucony Cohesion Running Shoes, which is made with specialized cushioning. It has the grid supportive cushioning with supportive overlays, adding to its stability for pain-free runs.
I like how you’re able to run long distances and not feel tired or fatigued from the shoes. It’s also built with the durable outsole to ensure that you have better grip and that the shoes last long even when on tough terrains. It’s not the absolute best with the thick cushioning, but it does the job well done for its price.
- It comes at such an affordable price with excellent value
- Good grip and traction for slippery terrain
- Enhanced support for plantar fasciitis and other conditions
- Not as durable or with thick enough padding for some
- A bit too wide for narrow feet
3. The Attractive and Snug Fit: ASICS Gel-Nimbus 18 Running Shoes
Similar to the men’s Gem Nimbus 18, the women’s version shows excellent features useful for those in need of extra cushioning. Not only does it have the quality soles for a comfier ride, but the specialized GEL Cushioning System that helps with absorbing shock no matter how heavy you are or what feet condition you have.
Besides its specialized cushioning, it also has a heel clutching system and FluidFit soles, which ensure that it’s a snug fit and will stay true to size. While it isn’t the most supportive for those with feet conditions, it’s one of the most cushioned and comfortable.
- Enough cushioning, you won’t feel the ground or tough terrain
- FluidFit and heel clutching system for the accurate fit
- GEL Cushioning System to allow better movement without the impact
- There aren’t enough colors to choose from
- Some complaints of it being too tight around the toe bed
4. The Well-Ventilated and Natural Feel: HOKA ONE ONE Bondi 5 Running Shoes
If your main focus is something with an attractive design and extra cushioning, you’ll love the HOKA Bondi 5. It comes in a host of different colors and designs to choose from, besides the useful features many will appreciate.
For starters, it’s built with a breathable mesh upper and the extra cushioning with its ortholite insole. It also has a meta-rocker and EVA midsole, which improves its padding ad improves the gait’s roll as you run, promoting natural and pain-free posture.
- Many stylish colors to choose from for attractiveness
- Lightweight yet with additional cushioning and support
- Breathable mesh upper and secure fit
- The toe box isn’t roomy enough for wide feet
- Might feel too bulky for some, despite the lightweight feel
5. The Strong and Amazing Construction: Saucony Triumph ISO 3 Running Sneakers
Saucony is a crowd favorite for their excellent quality running shoes, and the Triumph ISO 3 is no exception. It comes at an affordable to moderate price with the flashy yet stylish designs to choose from.
Other than its appearance, it also comes with the excellent construction, featuring the EVERUN and ISOFIT build unique to Saucony. That improves the way you run and land as your feet strike the ground. Plus, you won’t even feel the ground, having your feet made to run longer and without much of the fatigue.
- Feels like you’re running on clouds with the cushioning
- No need for breaking in can be used right away
- Excellent shock absorption and support, feel no pain
- Better for neutral or under pronated feet, not for overpronators
- Not the most flexible with stiffer soles
6. The Well-Padded and Excellent Control: Saucony Ride 9 Running Shoes
What I like about the Saucony Ride 9 Running Shoes is its stylish look and design. While it doesn’t look like it’s too cushioned, it still offers adequate padding and feels soft as you run. Surprisingly, something lightweight can still feel great on your feet, even when running on the trail.
Besides its padding, it also comes with the breathable mesh and chafe-resistant lining, which offers even more comfort and fewer chances of pain or stuffiness as you’re running for longer distances. The shoes even feature a unique and more flexible outsole design while offering dual-density cushioning, which is the perfect balance of flexibility and pronation control.
With all these in mind, it isn’t the super cushioning you’d expect, but enough with extra useful features to make your running even better.
- Made with lightweight and breathable mesh uppers
- Uses dual-density padding for better pronation control
- Flexible enough to promote correct running posture
- The shoes’ cushioning isn’t as thick compared to others
- It has a narrow toe box for wide feet
Why Do You Need Cushioned Running Shoes?
As I mentioned, studies have shown the benefits of barefoot and minimalist running, having little to no cushion at all. People choose to run without any running shoes or using glove-like toe shoes to promote natural running positions.
While minimalist and barefoot running is a trend shown to give what’s best for the body, it has its risks. The transition is very stressful to the bones and chances are, running on tough terrain or rocky concrete won’t do well for the feet!
There’s where cushioned running shoes come along, showing a host of benefits and purpose despite some claims. These are some of the benefits the cushiony footwear offers:
More Comfort In All Surfaces
Of course, with extra cushioning, you also receive even more comfort from the padding. That way, you won’t have to worry much about the pain as you step on rocks or other obstacles as you run. It keeps your feet comfortable and protected!
Fewer Aches and Pains
Not everyone wants to try out minimalist running shoes, especially in today’s surfaces where it’s very rocky or filled with small obstacles. With extra cushioning, you won’t feel as much of the ground compared to barefoot or minimalist shoes, lessening chances of aches and injuries.
Promotes Better Running For Certain Conditions
For those who are overweight or suffer from underpronation, you require better shock absorption to keep your feet protected from injuries. It also helps promote better running posture so you can run longer and faster. This is where cushioned shoes come along, hitting the ground less intensely compared to minimalist shoes.
Use For Other Purposes
You can even use cushioned running shoes for other purposes because of its soft feel and protection for your feet. You’re able to stand for longer periods or walk longer distances, suitable for exercise or when at work. All the while, your feet are stable and without feeling much of the discomfort.
How to Choose the Best Cushioned Running Shoes
Now that you’re familiar with why cushioned shoes are very beneficial, how can you choose the right pair? There are various factors to consider when choosing ANY type of shoe, and the same goes for cushioned running shoes. With that said, here are the different aspects to look into before you make your final decision:
How Much Cushioning?
There are different types of running shoes according to their cushioning and stability.
- Barefoot and minimalist running shoes have minimal to NO cushioning at all
- Neutral shoes are great for neutral runners with the typical amount of cushioning
- Super-cushioned shoes have up to 50% extra cushioning for better shock absorption
- Stability or motion control shoes are best for those who have overpronation, with a good amount of cushioning but a stiffer feel to counter the overpronation
Material and Durability
There are different materials to choose from and you have to ensure that you select one with quality and comfort in mind. I highly recommend that you invest in ones that focus on water-resistance, breathability, and lightness.
- Synthetic leather is durable and abrasion-resistant materials made of a mix of nylon and polyester. It dries quickly and feels more breathable
- Nylon and mesh are durable and have better breathability with a lighter weight
- TPU, also thermoplastic polyurethane, is placed on show panels for better durability and stability
Your Size and Fit
You won’t be able to run properly if your shoes are too loose or tight! Take note of the foot size, which varies by manufacturer and shoe model.
Some may require you to get half a size smaller or larger, do it’s best to have your feet measured and check customer reviews (like this one!). That way, you get the snug fit, which is something many worries about when purchasing shoes online.
Do You Need Orthotics?
Do you suffer from certain conditions that require you to wear medical orthotics? While some cushioned shoes have extra support, they also have removable sockliners to accommodate such prescribed orthotics to have you run properly despite your condition.
About Your Heels
Think about the heel counter and the heel-to-toe drop when selecting cushioned running shoes as well!
The drop of your shoe refers to the difference between the heel and toe’s heights, affecting the way your feet strike the ground. Low drops (0-8mm) promote a mid-foot or forefoot stride, while high drops (10-12mm) promote heel strikes. You can find cushioned shoes with no heel drop if you need it!
As for the heel counter, this is the rigid structure located in the shoe’s heel, which provides motion control and may have a heel wedge for extra cushioning and support. This one’s recommended if you have conditions like Achilles tendonitis, among others.
Midsoles and Outsoles
There are two main midsole materials to choose from, which are:
- EVA, or ethylene-vinyl acetate, which is a foam for most midsoles on running shoes. All cushioned shoes have either one or more layers of EVA, having multiple densities to promote a certain flex pattern
- TPU, or thermoplastic polyurethane, is flexible plastic sometimes used in midsoles for better stabilization
As for the outsoles, they are typically made of carbon rubber, best suited for the road to track running. Blown rubber, which has more cushioning, would be used on the shoe’s forefoot. As for trail runners, they have carbon rubber outsoles throughout.
I know how tough it can be trying to fit running shoes and seeing if it’s a perfect match. Because of that, you can refer to this video for more help on the right way to fit shoes:
Running Comfortably: Bonus Tips to Follow
Did you know that there’s more to running comfortably besides investing in cushioned running shoes? You also have to make sure that you follow the proper posture and other running tips for fun running session! With that said, follow these helpful tips:
- Besides wearing comfortable shoes, I recommend that you wear comfortable clothes as well. You need to dress accordingly to the weather and something you can run in without worry about sweat absorption or your pants falling! Invest in running tights or shorts, as well as a breathable and sweat-absorbent top that keeps you focused on your run rather than what you’re wearing
- Make sure that you warm-up and cool down, stretching to prevent strains and injuries. It’s also better to get your blood pumping before runs to prepare for the intensity ahead
- Your shoes won’t be comfortable if your feet aren’t prepared for it. Trim your nails and wear thick, comfortable socks that wick moisture away to keep your feet breathing well as you run
- Of course, you should build up your mileage slowly but surely. This helps you run comfortably but continue to reach your goals in time. Plus, it lessens the chances of injury and over-fatigue if you go too hard
- Focus on your posture as you continue to run, especially if you’re a beginner. Try not to be distracted by music or sights first, prioritizing the way your feet land and how your back remains in a relaxed, yet straight position
Frequently Asked Questions: Cushioned Running Shoes
Besides the benefits and choosing the best cushioned running shoes, there are other things to learn about this footwear. Here are some frequently asked questions people wonder about while choosing their shoes:
1. Should I get cushioned or minimalist running shoes? Why?
Again, this all depends on the way your feet are. While I do love cushioned shoes, they aren’t for everyone, just as how minimalist shoes are.
What I love about super-cushioned shoes is that it absorbs impact better compared to minimalist ones. So if you’re overweight, have underpronated feet, or plan to run on very tough trails and terrain, I recommend cushioned shoes.
But if you want to something lightweight with a more natural running position, minimalist shoes are ideal.
2. Are there any downfalls to super-cushioned shoes?
There are ARE downfalls when using super-cushioned shoes, though this depends on your gait.
Some studies show that super-cushioned shoes can cause stress over foot joints because it doesn’t provide as much motion control, especially for overpronators. This prevents a natural motion as you run, which can lead to problems in the long run.
BUT, if you are overweight or an underpronator who needs the extra cushioning, then these shoes help absorb more shock, lessening the pain felt as your feet make an impact.
3. How much cushioning is TOO much?
While there are a lot of benefits with cushioned shoes, there’s such a thing as too much! Shoes should only have up to 50% more cushioning than standard shoes, even less than that. This is because too much cushioning can also lead to higher impacts that it can’t absorb.
So make sure that when choosing your cushioned shoes, it should have enough padding according to your arch height but don’t go overboard!
4. What if I have a too low or high arch?
You will need to identify your arch height to determine your gait, which is the way your feet run. I’ll be getting into more details on what type of cushioning you need based on your gait, but here’s a short intro on your arch height:
- Normal arches have a distinct curve inside your foot with a connection to your heel and toe
- Low arches have imprints which show most of your foot, without a curve
- High arches have very noticeable curves with thin bands that connect the heel to your toe
5. Will my gait affect my cushioning needs?
YES, selecting running shoes also depends on your gait type!
If you have overpronation, you’re better off with motion control or stability shoes, which are a bit stiffer and with less cushioning.
However, if you have a neutral gait, it’s best to use neutral cushioning, or with only a bit of extra padding. For those with underpronation or supination, opt for a neutral cushioning OR super-cushioned shoe for better shock absorption.
6. How long before I have to replace my shoes?
The time it takes to replace your shoes depends on two things: How much you run and the quality of your shoes.
Usually, running shoes, including super-cushioned ones, can last for at last 300-500 miles, which is equivalent to about a year or so of running. However, this number can increase or decrease because of how your shoes are constructed.
You’ll know it’s time to replace your running shoes if it looks and feels frayed, or it isn’t as comfortable as it was when you began using it.
Wrapping It Up
When selecting the right running shoes, cushioning is an important aspect to consider. While some don’t require extra cushioning, the soft padding is needed for some to add comfort and absorb shock, depending on your weight and feet’s condition. With the right cushioning, you won’t have to worry about your comfort AND risk of injury while running!
I believe that the Brooks Ghost 10 Running Shoes is the best for men because of its excellent and durable cushioning. It isn’t too soft but works well in keeping my feet free from any pain from tough terrain. Because of that, I find it most suitable for longer distances with its added padding.
As for the women, I highly recommend the Brooks Ghost 9 Running Shoes, which is just as similar to the Men’s Ghost 10. But what makes it unique is its smoother stride that stays consistent no matter where you run. I see it as the ultimate all-around shoe for sprints and long distances, whether on the trail or treadmill.
I hope my article on the best cushioned running shoes helped you find the right ones you need. So don’t wait any longer and invest in the right ones based on my reviews and tips now!
Do you have any questions or want to share your tips and reviews on choosing cushioned running shoes? Then comment below, all your thoughts are much appreciated.