Whether you’re a new jogger or a seasoned veteran, having the right pair of running shoes is crucial. The repeated impact of jogging can take a toll on your joints and lead to injuries over time. That’s why cushioned running shoes are so important – they provide shock absorption and comfort to keep you going mile after mile.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about choosing cushioned running shoes as a jogger. You’ll learn about cushioning technology, shoe construction, and review the top picks to find your perfect match. Let’s hit the road!
What to Look for in Cushioned Running Shoes
When shopping for cushioned running shoes, there are several key factors to consider based on your individual needs and preferences:
Cushioning and Shock Absorption
The cushioning in the midsole is what sets cushioned shoes apart. Different foam materials are used to absorb impact and distribute force. Common options include:
- EVA (ethyl vinyl acetate) – lightweight standard foam in many shoes. Provides basic cushioning.
- Memory foam – conforms to the shape of your foot for a personalized fit.
- Gel – soft gel inserts for additional shock absorption. Found in the heel or forefoot.
- Air pockets – small air filled pockets embedded in the midsole compress on impact.
Also look for proper cushioning in the heel and forefoot to protect upon landing. Shoes with cushioning throughout the midsole can help for joggers who strike the ground heel to toe.
Comfort and Fit
Cushioning is pointless if the shoe doesn’t fit right. Consider the:
- Upper material – breathable and stretchy uppers prevent irritation. Mesh or knit uppers are ideal.
- Toe box – roomy toe boxes prevent jammed toes and blisters. Look for a wider toe box.
- Arch support – extra cushioning along the arch prevents overpronation. Opt for removable insoles to add your own if needed.
Be sure to select the proper shoe width to allow your feet to swell on longer jogs. The shoes should be snug, not tight.
Overpronation (feet rolling inwards) while jogging can cause knee or ankle pain. Seek stability features if you have this tendency:
- Firm heel counter – holds the heel securely to prevent sliding.
- Torsion system – support along the midfoot. Usually a firm plastic insert.
- Wide base – broader sole platform improves balance.
Moderate stability shoes work well for slight overpronators. Go for maximum stability version for severe overpronators.
Durability and Mileage
The outsole rubber tread impacts durability. High abrasion rubber and carbon rubber outsoles withstand hundreds of miles of use.
Ideally, cushioned running shoes should last 300-500 miles before replacing. Check user reviews for real-world mileage expectations.
Determine when and where you plan to jog most often:
- Everyday jogging or long distances
- Gym workouts
- Trail terrain
All-purpose cushioned shoes work for everyday jogging. Rugged trail shoes have deeper lugs for off-road. Minimalist shoes are better for gym training.
Those with high arches (underpronation) need well-cushioned neutral shoes. Low arches (overpronation) require stability shoes. Get your gait analyzed to determine pronation level.
Stick with running specialty brands known for cushioning innovation:
- Brooks – BioMoGo and DNA Loft foams, Guide and Ghost models
- Hoka One One – Maximum cushioning, Bondi model
- Asics – Gel and FlyteFoam, Nimbus model
- New Balance – Fresh Foam midsole, 880 and 1080 models
Cushioned shoes cost $100-$150 USD on average. Sale racks can help find deals on last year’s styles. Older models also get discounted online.
Why Proper Cushioning Matters
Now that you know what to look for, let’s discuss why cushioning is so critical in running shoes:
- Reduces Joint Impact – Cushioning absorbs shock rather than your knees/ankles taking the force. Prevents early onset of arthritis.
- Prevents Common Running Injuries – Properly cushioned shoes help avoid plantar fasciitis, shin splints, runner’s knee, and stress fractures.
- Enables Longer Distances – Cushioning allows running longer without muscle or joint pain. Extends your endurance.
- Allows Running on Hard Surfaces – The impact on concrete and asphalt is harder on your body without cushioning.
- Increased Comfort – Cushioning creates a springy, pillowy feeling underfoot. Reduces foot fatigue.
Pay attention to cushioning elements in the heel, forefoot or full-length depending on your foot strike pattern. The optimal amount of cushioning also depends on your body weight. Heavier runners need more shock absorption.
Top 5 Highly Cushioned Running Shoes
Ready to explore the most recommended cushioned running shoes for joggers? Here are our top picks:
1. Hoka One One Bondi 7
Overview: The Hoka Bondi 7 running shoe is the ultimate in plush cushioning, perfect for joint protection.
The distinguishing feature of these shoes is the extra thick midsole foam that provides a “floating” feel. The full-length EVA foam midsole measures 33mm in the heel and 28mm in the forefoot for maximum impact absorption.
The mesh upper provides breathability across the top of the foot. Rubber reinforcements around the toe bumper and heel improve durability. Available for men and women.
Ideal For: All joggers desiring a soft, cushioned ride. Especially beneficial for heavier runners or those with knee/ankle sensitivities. Provides lots of support for mild to moderate overpronators.
- Supremely soft, pillowy cushioning
- Excellent shock absorption
- Great for joint protection
- Roomy, comfortable fit
- Durable construction holds up to high mileage
- Less ground feel due to high stack height
- Lack of versatility, best just for road running
- Expensive price tag
Price Range: $165-$170 USD
Bottom Line: With its innovative mega-cushioned midsole, the Hoka Bondi 7 running shoe delivers an ultra-plush ride that no other brand can match. It’s worth the investment for injury-prone runners who prioritize comfort.
2. Brooks Glycerin GTS 19
Overview: The Brooks Glycerin 19 is the ultimate cushioned neutral running shoe, newly updated with DNA Loft cushioning.
The full-length segmentation in the midsole allows it to adapt to your stride. The DNA Loft foam provides softness underfoot without losing responsiveness. Omega Flex Grooves in the forefoot improve flexibility.
The 3D stretch print mesh upper provides a foot-hugging fit. A plush interior liner is comfortable next to the skin. The rubber outsole brings great durability. Available for men and women.
Ideal For: Neutral runners seeking soft cushioning. Provides excellent shock absorption for knee pain. Comfortable choice for longer distances up to the marathon.
- Ultra-plush DNA Loft cushioning
- Adaptable, smooth transitions
- Roomy interior fit
- Great balance of softness & responsiveness
- Excellent for shock absorption
- Expensive at full retail price
- Sizing runs small
Price Range: $150 USD
Bottom Line: With its innovative DNA Loft foam, the Brooks Glycerin 19 delivers supreme cushioning that conforms to your foot. It brings the soft ride of an ultra-cushioned shoe with livelier toe-off response. An excellent choice for high-mileage neutral runners.
3. Saucony Triumph 19
Overview: The Saucony Triumph 19 running shoe provides exceptional full-length cushioning in a stylish package.
The midsole uses PWRRUN+ foam which is soft, responsive and durable. A more rigid PWRRUN PB frame along the perimeter provides a touch of stability. The FORMFIT upper contours comfortably around the foot.
The Triumph 19 has a wider platform than previous versions for enhanced stability. Added rubber pads on the outsole improve grip. Available for men and women.
Ideal For: Neutral runners seeking a blend of cushioning and support in a daily trainer. Provides excellent shock absorption for knee pain and joint comfort.
- Soft, plush PWRRUN+ cushioning
- Supportive PWRRUN PB perimeter for light stability
- Roomy comfortable upper
- Smooth, stable heel to toe transition
- Great balance of cushioning & rebound
- Narrow sizing, especially in toe box
- Lacks versatility for speedwork
Price Range: $150 USD
Bottom Line: Featuring PWRRUN+ foam, the Saucony Triumph 19 running shoe delivers exceptionally plush cushioning with a touch of stability. A versatile workhorse shoe ideal for high mileage neutral runners.
Top 2 Budget-Friendly Cushioned Running Shoes
You don’t need to spend a fortune to get adequate cushioning. Here are two great value picks:
1. Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit
Overview: The Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit is a supportive yet well-cushioned shoe for injury prevention.
It features soft React foam in the midsole which provides bounce and energy return. A wider forefoot platform adds stability. The Flyknit upper contours smoothly. Unique heel geometry helps guide foot motion while absorbing shock.
Ideal For: Runners who need mild stability or are recovering from injury. Provides great cushioning for shin splints or knee pain. Excellent value for a supportive yet cushy daily trainer.
- Soft and responsive React foam
- Stable wide platform
- Flyknit upper for foot-hugging fit
- Guidance for smooth transitions
- Good stability for pronation
- Great shock absorption qualities
- Snug toe box for some
- Not ideal for speedwork
Price Range: $120-$160 USD
Bottom Line: With React foam and stability elements, the Nike React Infinity Run is a cost-effective cushioned shoe. It provides support and guidance for injury prevention at a reasonable price point.
2. New Balance Fresh Foam 880 v11
Overview: The New Balance 880v11 is a well-cushioned neutral running shoe with excellent versatility.
It features plush Fresh Foam midsole cushioning from heel to toe. An engineered mesh upper provides structure and breathability. A premium sockliner adds underfoot comfort.
The blown rubber outsole brings great traction and durability. Available with wide widths and in both men’s and women’s models.
Ideal For: Neutral runners seeking an affordable, well-balanced cushioned daily trainer. Provides great shock absorption for casual joggers. Comfortable choice for long runs.
- Plush Fresh Foam midsole
- Roomy engineered mesh upper
- Premium sockliner for comfort
- Versatile for various running paces
- Available in wide widths
- Better value than pricier models
- Less soft than DNA Loft or Glycerin
- Lower stack height than max cushion shoes
Price Range: $125 USD
Bottom Line: With premium Fresh Foam cushioning, the New Balance 880v11 running shoe provides enhanced comfort and versatility. It delivers plush softness you can log miles in without the expensive price tag.
FAQs About Cushioned Running Shoes
How often should I replace cushioned running shoes?
Expect to get 300-500 miles from a pair of cushioned running shoes before the cushioning breaks down. If you’re a heavier runner or jogger, err on the lower end of the mileage range.
Are more expensive shoes better for cushioning?
Not always. Mid-range shoes around $125-$150 often have innovative cushioning like Fresh Foam or React that competes with pricier models. Try shoes across price ranges to find the features most important to you.
Are cushioned shoes heavier than other running shoes?
Yes, the extra cushioning does add more weight, usually 1-3 ounces per shoe. Maximal shoes with the thickest midsoles weigh the most. But the injury protection outweighs the minor added weight.
Should I wear the same shoes for jogging and gym workouts?
Separate shoes are ideal – cushioned shoes for jogging outside and lightweight trainers for indoor exercise classes. But you can use your cushioned shoes on treadmills and ellipticals if needed.
Are cushioned shoes good for jogging on trails?
Most cushioned road running shoes don’t have enough traction for off-road trails. Seek out trail running shoes, which have deeper lugs on the outsole and better stability features.
Do I need more or less cushioning if I overpronate?
Look for stability shoes with medial posts or guidance technology. These provide the right support and cushioning for overpronators. Avoid plush neutral shoes which can exacerbate inward foot rolling.
How do I clean cushioned running shoes?
Remove shoe laces and insoles and toss in the washing machine. Use cool water on a delicate cycle with an old towel. Air dry shoes overnight rather than machine drying.
Are thick cushioned shoes bad for my feet or posture?
Not inherently, though it takes time to adapt to extra foam underfoot. Be sure to build cushioning thickness gradually. Inserts can provide needed arch support in ultra plush shoes.
When is a stability shoe better than a cushioned shoe?
If you severely overpronate, experience knee or hip pain, or have a history of injury, go for a stability shoe. This allows better form and prevents issues associated with excess movement.
How do I break in new cushioned shoes so they stay comfortable?
Wear for short runs of 3-5 miles at first to gently break them in. Loosen laces to prevent pressure points. Consider wearing two pairs of socks while adjusting to a new model. Apply moleskin or bandaids to any hot spots.
Get the Right Cushioned Shoes and Enjoy Your Jogs
We hope this guide helps you select cushioned running shoes tailored to your needs as a jogger. Properly cushioned shoes provide shock absorption critical for protecting your joints. Test out brands, cushioning types, and stability features to find your perfect match.
Investing in the right shoes makes jogging a pleasure rather than a pain. You’ll be able to jog comfortably, improve endurance and avoid those unpleasant running injuries. Happy running!