Cushioning in running shoes is king these days. But until recent years, running shoes with lots of cushioning used to be heavy. Thanks to technology, it’s now possible to have maximum cushioning in a running shoe without worrying about weight or pre-existing conditions. They may still be a bit heavier than standard running shoes as they need to leave some space for padding, but the benefits are many.
Today’s cushioned running shoes are popular because of how comfortable they are. They account for one of the largest segments of the running shoe market. Reason? They offer thick padding for the ultimate plush feel. Cushioning provides comfort and impact absorption. The better you feel, the better your performance.
Cushioned running shoes are specialized sneakers that have insoles and linings that provide extra cushioning in the arch or heel. This makes them supportive of your feet when you run. Whether you’re training for a marathon or running for fun, when you feel comfortable, you can run faster, better and longer.
Almost every shoe company has developed its signature foam. Asics’ FlyteFoam gives you bounce and energy return. Brooks’ DNA adapts to your stride and offers your feet and legs protection from shock. Under Armour uses Hovr foam to create a zero-gravity feel while Saucony’s Everun fuses TPU beads into the outsole and midsole for additional support.
Cushioned running shoes can be worn by both advanced runners and beginners with little to no pronation. If you can’t jog or run on flat surfaces such as treadmills and pavements, a pair of cushioned running may be exactly what you need.
Best Shoes For Runners Who Want Maximum Cushion
The right pair of running shoes hit the sweet spot between comfortable and lightweight, soft and supportive. They make it enjoyable to log those miles and help prevent injuries.
When shopping for a new pair of cushioned running shoes, it helps to understand the anatomy. When you know what you need to look for, it will be much easier finding the right shoes for your needs.
The 2 main areas to focus on are the upper and the midsole.
The midsole makes the majority of the material between your foot and the ground. It’s usually made from durable rubber to deliver traction and support. Other synthetic materials can be used in place of rubber. The midsole is responsible for absorbing energy and bettering your performance, so go for a midsole that responds well to your movement and returns maximum energy.
The upper covers everything above the midsole and needs to be lightweight and breathable. Excess heat and sweat can lead to foot odor or skin irritation. You will feel more comfortable for longer if your foot remains cool.
Depending on your skill level and requirements, the type of cushioned running shoes will vary widely. Some shoes feature thick and durable insoles for running while others are more lightweight and flexible.
With so many choices in the market, the buying process can quickly turn overwhelming. We looked at the cushioning measurements in the forefoot and the heel to present to you 5 of the best shoes for runners who want maximum cushion in 2020.
Altra Olympus 3.5
- Provides surprising stability on uneven surfaces
- Vibram MegaGrip rubber
- Stack Height: 33mm
- 10.7 oz. / 303 g
The Olympus 3.5 retains the impressive attributes of the 3.0 but features a new, more durable upper fabric pattern. The aggressive grip on this max-cushioned trail running shoe gives you great support and control when running on slippery or uneven surfaces. For a comfortable ride, the cushioning supports the natural shape of your foot. Balanced cushioning places your forefront and heel at the same distance from the ground to enhance low-impact from during your runs. Besides the grippy Vibram MegaGrip rubber outsole, you also get a roomy toe box. The reinforced upper of the Altra Olympus 3.5 delivers blowout prevention and enhanced strength. All these are meant to keep you running for longer. The shoes are also flexible and lightweight, making them suitable for gym use.
Saucony Triumph 17
- PWRRUN+ gives you a springy and responsive underfoot feel that keeps you strong and feeling fresh.
- FORMFIT acts like a luxurious bucket seat for your foot, conforming to you for the perfect fit and providing comfort from every angle.
- Cushioning thats 25% lighter than our previous best, the lightweight comfort of these shoes means you'll never feel like something is holding you back.
Saucony is a respected name in the running industry, and the Triumph 17 is an excellent addition to their collection. Lighter than the previous version (Triumph ISO 5), this shoe can last for months and is durable enough to withstand hours of constant running. The new PWRRUN+ midsole foam provides very high energy return with an impressively propulsive, lightweight ride. It’s Saucony’s most responsive and lightest foam ever. The heel to toe offset is a mere 8mm. This provides a balance transition that lets the foot relax within the shoe. Cushioning is 25 percent lighter than Saucony’s previous best. A FORMFIT insole delivers support, molding and comfort to keep your feet safe. This shoe is best suited for high-mileage training, long runs and recovery runs.
New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v10
- Fresh Foam midsole
- Hypoknit upper
- Data-driven design
This high mileage, neutral trainer has a thick, flexible and comfortable insole to support you when performing on the trail, road or treadmill. New Balance added a millimeter of softness underfoot in this 10th iteration to make the running shoe more forgiving overall. The midsole is upgraded to Fresh Foam X to make it bouncy and plush, but not squishy. The new Hypoknit upper is engineered with a precision fit. It stretches to fit wide feet. A sock-like knit upper keeps your foot locked down. Expect to get at least 500 miles out of this shoe without experiencing a breakdown in the upper or cushioning. For all the amount of protection offered, the shoe still remains relatively lightweight.
Brooks Ghost 12
- THIS SHOE IS FOR: Neutral runners looking for a lightweight shoe and a smooth ride without sacrificing cushioning. Whether you’re a Ghost loyalist or are lacing one up for the first time, you’ll find plenty to like.
- SUPPORT AND CUSHION: The neutral support type provides high energizing cushioning. Ideal for road running, cross training, the gym or wherever you might want to take them! Predecessor: Ghost 11
- BALANCED, SOFT CUSHIONING: BioMoGo DNA and DNA LOFT cushioning work together to provide a just-right softness underfoot without losing responsiveness and durability - yet it feels lighter than ever.
- SMOOTH, STABLE RIDE: No matter how your foot lands, our Segmented Crash Pad - an integrated system of shock absorbers - will cushion every step and stride for smooth heel-to-toe transitions.
- SOFT, SECURE, FIT: The newly engineered mesh and 3D Fit Print practically disappears on your foot with strategically placed stretch and structure.
The Ghost is a perennial best-selling line for Brooks for a simple reason-it makes the runner feel comfortable and in control. If you’re a Ghost loyalist, you’ll love this shoe. Standout features of the 12th adaptation include a 12 mm drop, a well-padded ankle collar, a sturdy heel counter and durable rubber outsole featuring flex grooves. DNA LOFT and BioMoGo DNA cushioning work together to give you underfoot comfort without losing durability and responsiveness. The upper, especially around the toe is more flexible and features unobtrusive printed overlays. These overlays provide mid and rear-foot support. The result is a secure, soft, stable and comfortable ride. You can use it as a daily trainer or long-run shoe. It performs well both on smooth, natural surface paths and paved surfaces. The shoe will easily last 400+ miles.
Hoka One One Bondi 6
If you suffer from or are prone to plantar fasciitis and other foot pain, you’ll need extra cushioning, especially in the heel area. The Hoka One One Bondi is the company’s response to max cushioning. This sixth version is the flagship maximum cushioning road shoe and comes with nice upgrades like a redesigned upper that uses a combination of lycra and engineered mesh. The thick and wide sole is meant to be used on hard or artificial surfaces. The superior redesigned heel area and underfoot cushioning makes it an excellent option to keep foot pain at bay. The advanced toe-box provides breathability and a comfortable fit. They are not the best looking shoes in this list, but they can give you great grip and comfort to keep you supported when doing your runs. If you’re looking for a cushioned running shoe for long slow distance, daily low-intensity training and recovery runs, give it a try.
Your feet are much more high maintenance than they pretend to be. Cushioned running shoes can make such a difference to your runs, hikes, workouts or even everyday life. The right cushioned running shoe will fit well from the beginning and complement your running style. This will make your running easier and better your performance.
The above discussed cushioned running shoes are like pillows to your fit. Pick a pair that suits your needs and budget.