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The 12 Best Cushioned Running Shoes Of 2022 For Peak Performance *And* Comfort

Your feet will feel like you're running on clouds.

cushioned running shoes
Sarah Leituala

Pounding the pavement can be rough the on feet. The impact is real—but cushioned running shoes can soften the blow. These sneaks are an amazing asset for runners of all levels. Not only will your feet feel so comfy, proper cushioning is also associated with improved running performance and reduced muscle damage, according to a new study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

"Cushioned shoes can help a runner use less precious energy to run at the same pace/intensity level," says Laura Norris, running coach in Boulder, Colorado. "While heavily cushioned shoes do not necessarily protect against all running-related injuries (see this 2018 study in Scientific Reports), a plush cushion can reduce impact forces while running."

The added cushion acts like shocks in your car or bike. "Depending on the individual's foot type, a cushioned shoe could be very helpful and beneficial to keep a runner comfortable and to mitigate injuries," says Mark Mendeszoon, DPM, a board-certified podiatrist and foot and ankle surgeon at Precision Orthopaedic Specialties in Chardon, Ohio, and owner of Achilles Running Shops. "Cushioned shoes absorb a great amount of stress."All running shoe brands have developed their own cushioning systems and technology, according to Dr. Mendeszoon. That means there's a sneaker just for your feet and running style.

If that's enough to get you shopping, here's a sneak peek at the top cushioned running shoes selected by experts:

Without further ado, here are the top 12 cushioned running shoes, as recommended by running coaches and podiatrists.

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Best Bouncy Feel
New Balance
Fresh Foam 880 V12
Best For Long Runs
GEL-Nimbus 24
Best Vegan Cushioning
Ride 15
Best Wide Toe Box
Best For Speed Workouts
New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon V3
Most Cushioning
Bondi 7
Best For Daily Running
Brooks Glycerin 19
Best For High Mileage Training
Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit
Best Lightweight Cushioned Shoe
Hoka Clifton 8
Best For Interval Training
Endorphin Speed 2
Best Overall
Ghost 14
Best For Trail Running
Freedom 4
Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of cushioning is best for running?

There are two types of cushioning experts recommend looking for. Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) and supercritical nitrogen foam are top picks from Anh Bui, PT, CSCS, run coach at Run Resiliently DPT. "EVA is the most basic form material, however it is inexpensive and has lower durability," she says. "Supercritical nitrogen foam uses nitrogen to create pores within the foam to create a lightweight, firm, and resilient midsole, however it is more expensive."

Where the cushioning matters most is the midsole, according to Mendeszoon. "Higher levels of cushioning can get higher mileage, and range from 350-550 miles."

Are cushioned running shoes good for running?

Yes, cushioned shoes are good for running as long as they are comfortable for the individual runner. In a 2021 meta-analysis in European Journal of Sports Science, the most economical and protective shoes are found to be the ones runners feel most comfortable in. Your personal biomechanics, weight/height, type of paths you run on, and total volume of running all impact what will feel best for you. "Some runners may feel more comfortable in highly cushioned shoes; others may feel best in smaller amounts of cushioning," says Norris.

What's the best cushioned running shoe?

It's on this list, but the best one for you depends on your foot and running style. If you can get evaluated by a professional and undergo a proper biomechanical exam, it can really help determine what type of shoe is best for you, says Mendeszoon.

And your fave route also matters for shoe selection. "The surface will impact which type of cushioning is best," says Norris. "If you plan on running on the roads, a plush cushion can be favorable. However, if you run often on dirt trails, you will want a firmer cushion in your shoe. Trails are softer and thus have less energy return, which a firmer cushion offers. A firm cushion also gives more stability on technical trails."

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