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Full Guide on How to Find the Best Cushioned Running Shoes

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If you’re a regular runner, has stinging heel pain become a common issue for you while running? If yes, then you should think about buying shoes with plush cushioning. While buying running shoes, runners often overlook the cushioning aspect. Style, material, outsole, weight, grip, etc., are some features that grab maximum attention. However, cushioning should be the first thing that should be taken into consideration while buying running shoes.

In this guide, we’ll tell you how to find the best-cushioned running shoes. But before that, we’ll first explain to you why cushioning is an important aspect to consider whilst buying running shoes. Keep reading to know more.

Why is cushioning important in running shoes?

While running on any surface, you strike your foot on the ground and in this process impact forces are generated. These forces are endured by the feet, and the result is foot damage or injury.

However, when you wear cushioned shoes, the generated impact is absorbed by the layer of cushioning and doesn’t reach the foot. This provides optimum protection to the foot from injuries. And, that’s the sole reason (excuse the pun) why cushioning is important in running shoes.

What are the components of the cushioning in your running shoes?

The midsole of the shoes feature the components that provide cushioning. It is mainly made of three materials. They are:

EVA: EVA stands for Ethylene vinyl acetate. It is a foam-based material that offers a soft cushioning.

Dual-Density EVA: As the name says, this foam comes with double density making the foam heavier, firmer, and stronger.

Polyurethane: Polyurethane is another kind of cushioning that is commonly used in the midsole. It is very durable and also, heavier as compared to EVA.

Different levels of cushioning

As you know that the impact forces hamper your feet and the best way to shield your feet from the impact forces is wearing cushioned shoes while running. But, you should also know what amount of cushioning you need.

There are five levels that determine the cushioning of shoes ranging from 5 to 1. Let’s take a closer look at each level of cushioning:

  • Level 5 Cushioning

Level 5 cushioning is the highest level of cushioning available in shoes. It is made using the finest technology to provide maximum comfort and impact protection.

If you are a high mileage runner or a novice, you should look for the shoes with level 5 cushioning. These are apt for long races like half or full marathon.

Best shoes with level 5 cushioning: Hoka Clifton, ASICS GEL-Kayano, and Adidas Energy Boost.

  • Level 4 Cushioning

Level 4 cushioning offers good cushioning, as well as performance. The shoes with level 4 cushioning provide optimum comfort while also providing good support.

This level of cushioning is perfect for daily running and racing as it helps in improving speed and performance without leading to fatigue and soreness.

Best shoes with level 4 cushioning: Adidas Supernova, Brooks Adrenaline, and Nike Zoom Pegasus.

  • Level 3 Cushioning

Level 3 cushioning offers moderate cushioning but good performance. It is light in weight and very flexible. The level is a perfect balance between soft and firm. These shoes offer a great fit.

Looking for shoes that could support your regular fast running needs? You should go with running shoes with level 3 cushioning. They are also ideal for the runners who want tempo shoes.

Best shoes with level 3 cushioning: Brooks Launch and New Balance Fresh Foam Zante.

  • Level 2 Cushioning

Level 2 incorporates light cushioning and a very minimal feel. It is flexible and helps in enhancing the form and stride and strengthening the feet. It keeps you connected to the road by giving a minimal feel.

The lightweight cushioning is apt for you if you are looking for running shoes that could help you achieve a better performance.

Best shoes with level 2 cushioning: Nike Free

  • Level 1 Cushioning

Level 1 cushioning is the lightest and the most flexible. The thin layer of cushioning only promises minimal protection. The shoes with level 1 cushioning protect the feet while offering a barefoot running experience.

You can use these shoes for walking, training, and running.

Best shoes with level 1 cushioning: Vibram V-Run

How to find the best-cushioned running shoes?

Finding well-cushioned shoes is no rocket science. The markets are loaded with many running shoes that provide good cushioning and hence, protection to your feet. But, if you have no idea how to make the right decision while buying running shoes with ample cushioning, let us guide you through the process.

Below, we have specified some basic pointers that have to be kept into consideration while buying running shoes. If you follow these pointers, you will definitely find a right pair of cushioned running shoes.

Let’s look at the important factors that need to be considered while purchasing cushioned running shoes:

  • The surface you will run on

If you are going to run on a very hard surface, you would need thicker cushioning. As you already know the different levels of cushioning, you can decide the required level according to the surface you are hitting on.

Road or track running: Road and track running require shoes with lighter weight, less traction, and a decent amount of cushioning.

Trail Running: As the surface of the trail can be uneven, it is more liable to hamper your feet, and so, you would need running shoes with more amount of cushioning. Also, don’t forget to check the support and traction, as you would need them in good amount.

  • The shape of your feet

This is something that we keep stressing over. You should get the shoes that go with the shape of your feet. It is one of the most important considerations, not just while buying cushioned shoes, but every kind of shoes.

Before you buy cushioned shoes, you should be well aware of the shape of your feet to make the right decision. If you don’t know the shape of your feet, you can go through a professional evaluation at the shoe store. The experts will tell you if you are a neutral runner, an overpronator, or an underpronator.

The store will have many good options for every category. You should select the shoes that go with your particular foot shape.

  • Your weight

If you are on a heavier side, the impact between the ground and your feet is going to be immense and to protect any injury; you would need running shoes with thick cushioning and enough support.

Considering weight is especially important for you if you have back, leg, or foot pain.

  • The time of buying shoes

Many runners don’t take into account the time of buying running shoes. But, you should not commit their mistake. If you are up for a shopping spree, consider the time.

Late afternoon is the best time to buy running shoes as our feet tend to swell after physical activity. This way you will not end up buying a smaller size.

You can also buy running shoes after a run as it will bring your feet to their max size.

  • Go half-size up

Going half-size up is a wise decision. As strain put on your feet tend to make them swell, you should consider buying half size larger. Ideally, the shoe should have enough space to accommodate a finger.

Keeping these things in mind while buying shoes will make it easy for you to select a good cushioned running shoe.

3 best-cushioned running shoes on the market

If you have been looking for the best-cushioned shoes on the market but couldn’t find one, check our list of the best-cushioned running shoes on the market. To pick the 3 best-cushioned shoes, we reviewed many shoes and weighed them on several parameters to select the best ones. Here are some of the best-cushioned running shoes that you can consider buying.

Type

Cushioned Running Shoes

Price

$101.90 – $246.82 (Check out the latest rates here!)

Heel-to-Toe Drop

5 mm (0.19 inch)

Heel Height

30 mm (1.18 inches)

Forefoot Height

25 mm (0.98 inch)

Upper

Engineered Mesh

Outsole Technology

High-Abrasion Rubber

Midsole Technology

EVA

Arch Support

Neutral

Terrain

Road

Width

Normal, Wide

Weight

9.3 0z. (266g)

Notable Features:

  • Plush cushioning
  • Softer EVA used in the midsole
  • Early Stage Meta-Rocker shape facilitates a smooth transition
  • Engineered mesh offering a flexible and smooth coverage
  • High-Abrasion in the outsole protects the shoes from wear and tear due to rough surfaces
  • Molded Ortholite sockliner provides extra cushioning

Sole Technology

  • Outsole Technology

The outsole of Hoka One One Clifton 5 is made of a High-Abrasion rubber compound which is strategically placed in the high-abrasion areas. The rubber compound offers protection against the abrasive terrain and ensures better traction.

The flex grooves provide flexibility to enhance your natural foot movement. .The sturdy material is very light in weight.

  • Midsole Technology

The midsole of these cushioned running shoes is composed of EVA foam which provides better cushioning and reduces the impact forces produced by foot strikes.

The use of Early Stage Meta-Rocker design provides a smooth heel-to-toe transition.

The Molded Ortholite sockliner enhances cushioning and arch support. It possesses anti-sweat and anti-microbial properties that help in keeping the inner environment cool, dry, healthy, and clean.

Upper

The upper of these running shoes is made of engineered mesh which provides a soft, smooth, and flexible wrap. It features breathing pores to allow air inside the foot-chamber to keep the inner environment cool.

The presence of 3D Puff Print not just enhances the design feature but also keep your foot in proper place while running. The security is further enhanced by the use of a padded collar and tongue. With these features, you should not worry about wobbling or accidental removal of shoes while running.

These shoes use a traditional lacing system to provide a customized fit.

Pros and Cons

Pros

Cons

Soft cushioning

Upper unit is a little stiff

Use of durable materials

Narrow

The underfoot platform offering good support

Breathable upper

Type

Cushioned Running Shoes

Price

$69.99 – $150.00 (Check out the latest rates here!)

Heel-to-Toe Drop

0 mm (

Heel Height

36 mm (1.41 inches)

Forefoot Height

36 mm (1.41 inches)

Upper

Abrasion-resistant Mesh

Outsole Technology

Vibram MegaGrip Outsole

Midsole Technology

Dual-Layer EVA and A-Bound technology

Arch Support

Neutral

Terrain

Trail

Width

Normal

Weight

11.4 oz. (326g)

Notable Features

  • Vibram MegaGrip outsole provides a robust outsole

  • Better traction on dry, as well as wet surface

  • Tread pattern on the outsole

  • Use of A-bound technology in the midsole makes it resistant to wear and tear

  • Dual-density midsole provides cushioning

  • Midsole conforming to the shape of your foot provides a natural stride

  • Abrasion-resistant mesh upper

  • A-Bound technology in the upper

Sole Technology

  • Outsole Technology

The outsole of these shoes uses lugged Vibram MegaGrip technology. The robust technology helps in providing a safe running experience on any trail and good traction on wet, as well as dry terrain.

The foot-like shape of the outsole conforms to the natural foot movement and mechanism.

  • Midsole Technology

The midsole of these shoes is a blend of two technologies; A-Bound technology and dual-layer EVA.

A-Bound technology is a nature-friendly technology which is made of recycled products. It is very durable and resistant to abrasion and offers protection to the feet.

The EVA foam, on the other hand, provides better cushioning, comfort, and a better ride.

The shape of the midsole follows the natural shape of the foot providing a better stride.

Upper

The upper of these cushioned running shoes is resistant to abrasion. The seamless upper provides comfort and durability. The tiny holes present on the upper established proper ventilation in the inner environment and so, you shouldn’t worry about hot spots.

The lateral sides of the shoes are covered with overlays providing support, as well as protection. The toe tip, which is very prone to wear and tear, is protected by an overlay on the tip.

The upper uses A-Bound technology comprising on a Velcro strap on the heel, loop at lacing system’s base, and two laces on the collar.

Pros and Cons

Pros

Cons

Maximum cushioning

Lack of heel support

Vibram outsole provides better traction

Expensive

Breathable and supportive upper

Bulky

Type

Cushioned Running Shoes

Price

$79.99 – $193.72 (Check out the latest rates here!)

Heel-to-Toe Drop

12 mm (0.47 inch)

Heel Height

30 mm (1.18 inches)

Forefoot Height

18 mm (0.70 inch)

Upper

Engineered Mesh

Outsole Technology

HPR Plush and Blown Rubber

Midsole Technology

BioMoGo Midsole

Arch Support

Neutral

Terrain

Road

Width

Narrow, Normal, Wide

Weight

10.4 oz. (295g)

Notable Features:

  • Use of HPR Plus and blown rubber in the outsole makes it flexible and durable

  • Cush Pod Configuration to provide better cushioning

  • BioMoGo midsole provides adaptability and flexibility

  • S-257 Cushsole in the midsole provides cushioning

  • Omega Flex Grooves add flexibility

  • Profile Sock liner for added cushioning

  • Engineered upper mesh

  • Adjustable saddle construction provides better grip

Sole Technology

  • Outsole Technology

The outsole of these running shoes is composed of HPR Plus rubber and blown rubber. The HPR Plush rubber adorns the heel area and provides traction and durability, whereas the blown rubber provides flexibility.

The Cush Pod Configuration enhances cushioning and helps the foot to attain a balanced position.

  • Midsole Technology

The midsole of these running shoes is made of BioMoGo which is an environment-friendly material. It adapts to the shape of your foot and provides a very responsive ride, as well as energy return.

The S-257 Cushole, which is a patent of Brooks, provides extra cushioning and makes running a very comfortable experience.

The presence of Omega Flex Grooves provides better flexibility. The Profile Sock liner adds cushioning.

Upper

The upper of these running shoes is made of engineered mesh. The breathable material also ensures enough support and keeps the inner environment of the foot chamber clean and cool. It adapts to the shape of the foot.

The synthetic overlays present on the heel, mid-foot, and toe tip help in maintaining the shoe’s shape. This lightweight support offers a better fit.

The saddle construction of these running shoes provides a better fit in the midfoot area.

Pros and Cons

Pros

Cons

Good shock absorption

Not durable

Robust sole

Lack of arch support

Comfortable

Lack of traction on wet surfaces

Better stability

Swift transition

Flexible

The final thoughts

Wearing cushioned shoes while running is a sure-shot way to minimize impact and hence, injuries. Now that you are well aware of the importance of cushioning in running shoes and know how to find the best-cushioned running shoes, you can easily pick the best-cushioned running shoes on the market.

You can choose out of the 3 models we’ve mentioned in the guide or explore the market for more available models. If you have any questions in mind, please share your thoughts in the comments section below. Also, if there’s any athletic shoe related topic that you would want us to cover or any particular shoes that you would want us to review, please write to us and let us know.

Further read:

Nike Flyknit Lunar 3 Review – Is It Nikes Best Fit Shoe?

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