knee pain good shoes

Knee pain-Good shoes: What’s the connection?

Knee pain-Good shoes: an interesting link

The Knee pain-good shoes” connection is a very important one. This is what a respondent in a recent study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, had to say: “I damaged the meniscus in my left knee years ago and eventually had surgery to shave and smooth the damaged cartilage. As a result, I know how debilitating knee pain associated with osteoarthritis can be.I have learned that good shoes – and exercise – can help knee pain. A recent Australian study confirms the importance of good shoes for knee pain sufferers.”

Now if you have suffered from serious knee pain in the past, or you’re still experiencing chronic knee pain, then the research looking into the quality of your shoes, is very relevant. As you would agree, it can make a big difference, having this constant knee pain, or getting rid of it.

With knee pain, do I need special shoes?

It’s a big question and the study wanted to create some clarity. Commercial providers (shoe shops, manufacturers) all have their messages to convince us that this shoe is best for our feet, legs and knees. But when it’s about this interesting relationship (knee pain-good shoes), who can we trust?

Well, the research team worked with 160 participants. Each of them was monitored and studied, and the team prescribed either specialised insole shoes, or really good, decent but rather simple walking shoes. And when we say decent, picture this: they had triple-density, variable-stiffness midsoles. I know, it almost sounds like a shoe commercial but these guys were scientists, not keen to sell shoes, just interested to help people get rid of their knee pain.

Knee pain-good shoes: what was the scientific verdict?

You’d expect this type of study to be done in a very serious way. And they did. For 6 months, the 160 participants volunteered to try out their new shoes. At 6 months the researches re-evaluated every single shoe-tester.

There was a group with specialised insole shoes, and a group with decent but simple walking shoes. Both groups showed clinically relevant improvements, in function and in pain. Now interestingly, there was no big difference between the 2 groups!

More than half the participants said they had less knee pain. Almost half the participants shared that they just felt better, or to put it scientifically, their “knee function had improved”.

Conclusion: yes, good shoes can ease your knee pain

If you are in this situation, this type of research is solid gold. Because we now know that shoes with modified midsoles, unload the medial knee. They don’t necessarily offer any additional benefit over “conventional walking shoes”.

So rather than doing all these renovations and adding soles to your existing shoes you might as well look into buying decent walking shoes. Both solutions improved pain and function by clinically relevant amounts. In other words, it makes a difference.

A new pair of good quality, lace-up walking shoes are as effective as highly specialised insoles in easing knee pain. Simply because good supportive footwear decreases stress on your knees. There is a also a place for custom made orthotics in those people who have complicated biomechanical issues in their feet. But the orthotics need to be paired with the right pair of walking shoes!

Why solving the knee pain-good shoes riddle is so important

If you have knee pain you’ll see the benefit immediately. But if you’re avoiding your walks and you suffer from arthritis, then it’s even more important to look at the whole picture. When you are trying to manage your arthritis, it’s very important to be active. So get fitted with a good pair of walking shoes, and get moving!
Ask us about the type of shoe that would best suit you. In a future blog we will talk about other strategies that can help ease the pain of knee osteoarthritis!

And if you want to delve into the scientific details…

Feel free to take a look at the actual study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.


Paul Staerker

Paul Staerker

Principal / Chiropractor at Burswood Health
Dr Paul Staerker entered pre-medicine and majored in chemistry and physics, to then obtain a degree of Doctor of Chiropractic in Lombard, Illinois USA.In 1983 he partnered with Dr Miriam Minty at the then Causeway Chiropractic Clinic, and opened Burswood Health Professionals in 1993.
Paul Staerker