Best Work Boots for Bad Knees | Conquer Pain Quickly with Cushioned Running Shoes

If you’re dealing with arthritis that attacks your knee or have gone through surgery and recovery for a torn ACL, you understand how painful and difficult bad knees can be. Working long hours in a boot that doesn’t protect and cushion your foot can amplify your problems. So what are the best work boots for bad knees?

Updated May 2020 by Tony Bleak

Work boots for bad knees

In a Hurry? The Top Pick

Our #1 pick is the Danner Vicious Non Metallic Boot.  Read on to find out why.


Comparison table

WaterproofSafety ToeFeatures
KEEN Utility Detroit
Work Boot
YesSteel
Rubber outsole
EH safety rating
Cushioned footbed
Slip- & Oil resistant
View
Danner Vicious
Work Boot
YesCompositeVibram outsole
EH safety rating
PU footbed cushion
Slip-, Oil- &
Abrasion resistant
View
Timberland Powertrain
Sport Shoe
NoAlloy
Synthetic outsole
EH safety rating
Anti-fatigue insole
Slip-, Oil- &
Abrasion resistant
View

Key Features for Safety Shoes to Support Bad Knees

The best work boot for your bad knees will not interfere with your normal stride. 

Bad knees make walking more difficult than it should be. The last thing you want your shoe to do is exacerbate the problem. You may do exactly that, though, if you buy a very cushy shoe that elevates your heel or overly supports your arch. Your ankle and knee joints will compensate for the change, but they will feel increased pressure. Likewise, a very rigid shoe that rubs your toe could cause you to change your stride to prevent a blistered toe. Again, your knee and ankle joints will feel the difference.

If you find the elevated heels bother your joints, you can try a zero drop style work boots as a change.

The best work boot for your bad knees will fit your foot well. 

If you have chronic knee problems or are receiving treatment for a knee injury, you might want to shop for your next pair of shoes at a specialty shoe store. With a staff that understands how to measure your foot, stores like this can help you find shoes that fit you really well. This will be the first step–literally–to reducing your knee pain.

The 3 best work boots for bad knees 

KEEN Utility Detroit Work Boot

The KEEN Utility Work Boot has a waterproof membrane, a rugged steel toe to protect your foot, and a rubber outsole that is slip resistant and oil resistant. The boot is not insulated for comfortable work in winter weather. 

PROS

  • Waterproof 
  • EVA midsole
  • Removable insole

CONS

  • Expensive
  • Imported
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Danner Vicious Work Boot

Danner Vicious Boot is a short waterproof boot with a leather upper and a slip-, oil-, and abrasion-resistant sole. It is EH rated and has a composite safety toe. It does not, however, have a puncture-resistant outsole.

PROS

  • Waterproof
  • Anti-fatigue midsole
  • Removable insole

CONS

  • Pricey
  • Imported 
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Timberland Powertrain Sport Construction Shoe

Timberland Powertrain EH Shoe is a short, black shoe designed to protect industrial and construction workers with its heavy-duty, oil resistant, EH rated outsole and alloy safety toe. It is not waterproof, nor does it feature a met guard to protect the metatarsals. 

PROS

  • EH rated
  • Anti-fatigue midsole 
  • Removable insole

CONS

  • Not waterpoof
  • Imported
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Customer Impression

These work boots are comfortable, even for men who have bad knees, knee pain behind the knee or around the knee cap.

Comfort is key for any working man, whether he’s a logger, a welding foreman, an ironworker or a driving all day. These boots are comfortable. A high percentage of the reviewers of each of these boots consistently say that. And they are comfortable for people who regularly deal with foot or knee pain.

Each boot has its strengths and shortcomings

Here are some other things the reviewers appreciate or take issue with about the 3 best work boots for bad knees.

KEEN Utility Men’s Detroit XT Waterproof Work Boot–The Detroit boot comes in a wide range of sizes; some men appreciate that. It’s mostly rated as a durable boot. However, a significant number of poor reviews bemoaned the fact that the boot literally fell apart after a few months.

Danner Vicious No Metal Toe Boot–This Danner boot is preferred by several reviewers over other boots made by Carolina and RedWing. People who like it, really like it. However, a few people were equally displeased by the boot’s quality–especially the soles and the waterproofing. A very small percentage won’t buy again.

Timberland PRO Men’s Powertrain Sport Alloy-Toe EH Shoe–Purchasers like the lightweight-aspect of this boot. Many find it comfortable even for long days, and prefer it to similar Irish Setter boots. People who don’t like it say it isn’t durable,and inferior in quality to Keen and other boots that they have owned.    

Conclusion

If you have bad knees, an uncomfortable pair of work boots may actually exaggerate your difficulties by causing you to change your stride in order to prevent painful chafing. The 3 best work boots for bad knees fit well and provide comfort and support to men who deal with knee pain. Although all 3 are excellent work boots, the ‘best-of-the-best” kudos go to the Danner Vicious Non Metallic Toe Work Boot due to its excellent comfort and good durability.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Is it possible that I could be wearing shoes causing knee pain?

Indeed, it is possible that it’s your shoes causing knee pain –or at least a contributing factor–of your knee pain.  Shoes change your gait at least a little bit. The only way they would be able to prevent causing that change would be to exactly form to your foot and allow you the complete range of foot movement you have when you are barefoot. That’s simply not possible, even in very soft, moldable shoes.

Shoe heels, especially the tall, pointy kind, are major culprits when it comes to causing knee pain. Heels contort your feet and change your stride. This, in turn, increases the pressure on your knee joints and makes them less stable.  When your knee isn’t stable, you put more strain on the knee ligaments, including the ACL, and the MCL.

Continued walking or even moderately strenuous activity puts you at risk of pulling or tearing your knee ligaments. You are also at greater risk of falling since your knee plays a major role in helping you keep your balance. 

Even shoes that are “good for feet” or orthopedic could contribute to your knee pain if they don’t fit your foot well. Things to consider are if

  • 1) the arch of the shoes corresponds to the arch of your feet,
  • 2) excessive cushioning actually alters your stride enough to put stress on your knee,  and
  • 3) the shoe is so stiff that it also changes your gait. Any of these factors could contribute to knee pain.

What are the best mens cushioned running shoes for bad knees?

The answer to that depends partly upon what kind of running you do. Trail running stresses your feet and knees in different proportions than road running does. The same thing is true of distance running and of running that’s part of a cross-training regimen. Here are 4 of the best mens cushioned running shoes for bad knees to help keep your knees from hurting.

Adidas Men’s Ultraboost 19 Running Shoe –Made from textile and synthetic materials, the Ultraboost 19 has a rubber sole and an adaptive engineered upper that expands and supports your foot as you run. The shoe’s regular fit and normal arch make it a good choice for runners without special foot issues.

Brooks Mens Ghost 11 Running Shoe–The Ghost 11 by Brooks comes in medium and wide widths, and is perfect if you have a medium-to-high arch.With exclusive BioMoGO DNA and DNA LOFT cushioning, this shoe can provide a responsive and durable underfoot that feels incredibly light. The Ghost combines synthetic and mesh materials for a great fit and enough stretch to keep you comfortable as you run.

Saucony Men’s Peregrine 8 ICE+ Sneaker–Saucony’s Peregrine 8 ICE+ combines a synthetic upper with a Vibram sole for great traction as you run, even on rough or uneven terrain. This is a low-top shoe with an Everun topsole, a PWRFOAM midsole and a lugged outsole. 

Mizuno Men’s Wave Rider 22 Knit Running Shoe— Here’s a textile and synthetic low-top shoe with a rubber sole. Exclusive U4ic Midsole cushioning and Cloud Wave technology provide excellent shock absorption in a durable shoe with an excellent ride. The Wave Rider 22 also features a removable cushioned sockliner.

What are some of the best womens running shoes for bad knees?

The best women’s running shoes for bad knees cushion the foot with each step and protect the joints from the pounding stress that is inherent with running. In the vast pool of women’s running shoes, these 4 get customer reviews that say they are some of the very best womens running shoes for bad knees and ladies who at least occasionally have bad knee pain

NIKE Women’s Air Max Motion LW Running Shoes–The Air Max Motion is a lightweight synthetic and textile running shoe with a mesh upper that is breathable. The durable synthetic rubber outsole features forefoot flex grooves that allow your foot a natural range of motion. 

ALTRA Women’s Lone Peak 4 Trail Running Shoe–For trail runners, the ALTRA Lone Peak 4 provides ample room for your toes to spread out naturally and comfortably as you climb and descend with the contours of the trail. A specially-formulated energy-return compound directly under your foot helps reduce the pounding impact of the ground. The Lone Peak 4 is designed so that your heel and forefoot are the same distance from the ground. This encourages proper running form that reduces the impact on your ankle, kneecap, and ligaments. 

ASICS Women’s Gel-Excite 4 Running Shoe–The Gel-Excite 4 by ASICS is a textile and synthetic shoe with a High Abrasion Rubber outsole. Features include a low-top shaft, a special rearfoot Gel cushioning system that attenuates shock, and a removable sockliner that can be replaced with an orthotic insert if you need one. Reflective materials make the shoe visible if you run at night.

What companies manufacture some of the best shoes for bad knees?

Read the online reviews about which shoes are the best for men with bad knees, and you’ll notice several brands that occur repeatedly. Here are the companies that produce some of the best shoes for bad knees, and a few of their best-rated products.

Clarks–The Escalade Step is a traditional lace-up shoe that looks classy. If you prefer a dressy ankle boot, you may consider the Bushacre Hill boot or the Tilden Zip Ii waterproof boot.

ECCO– The Helsinki and the New Jersey shoes by Ecco are elegant slip-on shoes with a square toe. The Fusion Moc-toe Oxford is a sturdy, yet attractive shoe. 

Dansko– Probably best known for their traditional clogs, Dansko also makes loafers and pull-on clogs. Their Wayne, Wynn, and Karl lines are well-rated loafers, pull-on clogs. and traditional clogs, respectively.

Orthofeet–Specializing in men’s and women’s shoes for people with troublesome feet, the Orthofeet company offer several shoes designed to relieve the terrible pain caused by arthritis that settles behind the knee or a wide array of other problems that produce bad knees. Their Gramercy and Avery Island oxfords are high-rated options.  

Rockport– The Rockport company provides an array of dress shoes that are designed to reduce knee and foot pain. These all rate very well. Several attractive traditional oxfords include the Margin, the Evander, the Leader 2, and the Charles. If you want the styling of an oxford with the ease of a pull-on shoe, you might prefer the Charleston. Traditional loafers are a possibility, too, with the Eberdon and the Circle Penny Loafer.

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