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Gear and Technology

Discover the best cushioned running shoes for a smooth ride

Discover the best cushioned running shoes for a smooth ride
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Cushioned running shoes can give you a soft and comfortable ride while offering extra protection and support—so you can focus on your run, not your feet.

Whether you’re a long-distance runner or you just want to feel like you’re gliding on clouds, cushioned running shoes can help soften your landing on hard surfaces like asphalt and concrete, so you can keep your feet comfy and happy mile after mile. Let’s dive into the ins and outs of cushioning, plus get our top cushioned running shoe picks for an effortless ride.

What is cushioning and why is it important?

Cushioning refers to the soft, shock-absorbing materials that are built into the midsole or heel area of a shoe. These materials provide a comfortable, protective layer between the foot and running surface, minimizing impact every time your foot hits the ground. Cushioning can reduce the stress placed on your bones and muscles and help prevent joint pain and stress fractures. By providing a softer, more forgiving surface for the foot, cushioning can also help your feet feel comfier for longer, reducing fatigue on extended runs.

What is cushioning and why is it important

How much cushioning do I need?

Every runner is unique. Finding the right amount of cushioning in a running shoe can depend on a variety of factors, including your running style, foot mechanics, and body weight. When shopping for cushioned running shoes, here are a few considerations to keep in mind:

  • Pronation: You’ll want to consider your pronation type, which means how your foot rolls when it strikes the ground. Different pronation types may benefit from varying levels of cushioning and stability features. Pronation can be categorized as neutral, overpronation, or underpronation. Not sure which category you fall under? Visit a specialty running store or consult with a podiatrist or sports therapist who can analyze your gait and provide guidance.
  • Foot structure: You’ll also want to take a look at your foot structure and arch type. Runners with high arches typically require more cushioning to help absorb shock and provide adequate support. Runners with low arches or flat feet may need shoes with additional stability features alongside cushioning.
  • Body weight: Your body weight can impact the amount of cushioning you need. Heavier individuals may require more cushioning to help reduce the impact forces on their joints.
  • Running surface: Think about the type of running surface you run on most often. If you frequently run on hard surfaces like pavement, more cushioning can help provide better shock absorption. On the other hand, if you typically run on softer surfaces like a treadmill, you might not need as much cushioning.
  • Personal preference: Some runners like a plush, pillowy feel, while others prefer a firmer, more responsive shoe. There are many benefits to both, but ultimately, it's what your feet feel happiest running in. 

It might take some trial and error to hit that cushioning sweet spot. Talk to an expert at your local specialty running store, try on different shoes, and take them for a 90-day trial run to find the right level of cushioning for your specific needs.

Our best cushioned running shoes

Let’s get your feet feeling comfy and supported, so you can hit your stride. Here are our top picks for cushioned running shoes—all of which feature 100% DNA LOFT cushioning for a plush ride.

Our best cushioned running shoes

Ghost: Versatile comfort for neutral runners

Gear up for a smooth ride with the Ghost, our best-selling running shoe. Featuring soft cushioning, easy transitions, and a trusted fit, the Ghost is a fan favorite for good reason. DNA LOFT v2 cushioning means you’ll get a plush, lightweight feel without sacrificing durability, while the responsive midsole and Segmented Crash Pad team up for effortless heel-to-toe transitions. Pair that with an engineered air mesh upper for the ultimate in comfort and breathability on everyday runs. 

Ghost Max: Optimal comfort and protection

The technology behind the new “Max” versions of various Brooks running shoes emerges from our in-depth understanding of what many runners truly crave—maximized cushioning for optimal comfort and protection. If you prioritize protection above everything else, the Ghost Max is your go-to. With its increased heel and forefoot cushioning and features like the GlideRoll Rocker, the new Ghost Max is all about max protection.

Bonus: both the Ghost and the Ghost Max are certified CarbonNeutral® shoes, making it light on your feet and the planet.

 Versatile comfort for neutral runners

Glycerin: Plush cushioning for all distances

For supreme softness on brisk walks, short jogs, and longer runs, the Glycerin goes the distance. Featuring nitrogen-infused DNA LOFT v3 cushioning, the Glycerin offers a plush and luxurious underfoot feel. This fan favorite also offers a lightweight, responsive, and durable ride that adapts to your stride, so you can conquer your miles in pure comfort. Looking for a specific fit? Glycerin has both neutral and support options as well as two styles of uppers to suit your preference.

Plush cushioning for all distances

Adrenaline: Stability and support for overpronators

For stabilization that goes the extra mile, the Adrenaline GTS delivers. Designed to offer a perfect balance of support and softness, the Adrenaline will help you stay in your natural stride without sacrificing comfort. Our unique GuideRails® technology aligns your body in its natural motion path while keeping excess movement in check, making it a great support shoe for overpronators. And with 100% DNA LOFT cushioning, you’ll enjoy a soft, smooth ride every time.

Find your perfect fit

Let’s get to know your running style better, so you can get cushioning that’s just right. Stop by a local store for a professional fitting or take our Shoe Finder quiz for a personalized recommendation. Our Run Happy Promise means you can take your new shoes for a 90-day trial run. If you don’t love them, return them for free. Happy trails!

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Cushioned running shoes

Disclaimer: Our writer's advice is intended for informational or general educational purposes only. We always encourage you to speak with your physician or healthcare provider before making any adjustments to your running, nutrition, or fitness routines.