Whether you’re an avid runner or someone who only hits the pavement on occasion, finding the best running shoe for your foot structure and stride is crucial — especially when it comes to more mature athletes.
“As we age, we tend to accumulate more range of motion limitations and a potential reduction in strength and stability, so finding a shoe that accommodates your foot structure and provides support and shock absorption where needed becomes vital,” Alison McGinnis, a senior physical therapist at Finish Line Physical Therapy, tells Woman’s World. “Older runners don’t necessarily need to pick a different shoe than younger runners, but they do need to care about getting into the right running shoe for them more than younger runners do.”
Finding shoes that fit properly and comfortably are key to avoiding injury while running. But what’s right for you might not be right for someone else.
How To Find the Best Running Shoe
Although there aren’t specific shoe recommendations for mature runners, there are certain guidelines you can follow to help you find your perfect match.
“The most important thing for a runner of any age to consider when choosing a running shoe is the fit,” McGinnis says. “None of the bells and whistles will matter if the shoe doesn’t fit in all the right places.” She also noted that “the best time of day to try on running shoes is at the end of the day or after a run, when your feet are at their biggest.”
This is important, since the tip of the shoe should be a thumb’s width longer than the length of your toes when standing. (Have a trusted companion measure this for you, since your foot will shift in the shoe if you bend down to check.) Another important aspect of a running shoe for older women is the toe box. It should be wide enough to accommodate the ball of your foot — as well as your toes — without compressing them inwards. In other words, the toe box shouldn’t feel uncomfortably tight around the ball of your foot.
When it comes to shape, the silhouette of the shoe should match the silhouette of your foot. To check, you can try removing the insole of your shoe and then standing on it. “If any part of your foot is spilling over the sides, or the shape doesn’t match the shape of your foot, move on to another pair,” suggests McGinnis.
After you’ve got the fit just right, features such as cushioning, heel drop, arch support, and firmness can be taken into consideration. Firmer shoes, for instance, are typically recommended by experts for running, particularly when it comes to the toes. McGinnis recommends finding a shoe with a toe box that is “flat and not curling upwards. When the shoe is designed with this feature, it places a constant stretch through your plantar fascia and Achilles and can lead to problems in the future,” she explains.
With so many factors to consider, it can be helpful to consult a professional, whether it be a running shoe store associated, a specialist, or a physical therapist, who can give you specific recommendations based on your foot type. “Make sure someone is well-versed and has a reputation for treating runners or for [recommending running shoes],” Dr. Neal Blitz, DPM, aka “The Bunion King” of New York, tells Woman’s World. Foot specialists that specialize in running or in sports are very well equipped. … And a foot specialist generally has a very solid understanding of biomechanics that can identify the proper shoe for you.”
Running Shoes and Bunions
While bunions can occur at any age, most people experience more problems with this condition as they age, with women in particular experiencing more complications than men as a result of wearing tight shoes and high heels. If you’re an older runner with bunions, there are some additional factors to consider when embarking on a search for proper running shoes.
As Dr. Blitz explains, bunions are the result of “a metatarsal bone that gets shifted out of its normal position.” Blitz says that when this occurs, “the big toe gets pushed over towards the smaller toes — the joint pops out underneath the skin. … It’s a misalignment of the joint. And it creates a bio-mechanical catastrophe for the foot.”
Complications associated with bunions can range from swelling and pain at the ball of the foot and arch to more serious issues, such as arthritis, hammer toe, and ultimately, stress fractures. Finding a running shoe that stabilizes the foot and helps prevents this condition from getting worse or recurring for those who have had bunion surgery is of the utmost importance.
What should I look for in a running shoe?
First, make sure your shoe provides enough room for the bunion. The fit of the shoe shouldn’t be too tight or constricting, since inflammation and sores/cuts can form as a result, Dr. Blitz warns. Look to buy a wider shoe or find a shoe with netting or mesh toe box that provides the least compression over the top of the foot.
Second, Dr. Blitz recommends that patients “find a shoe that is not too flexible.” A running shoe should break at the ball of the foot,” he says. “That will help with some of the instability that the bunion creates.” Steering clear of flimsy shoes is especially important when it comes to the outside of the heel, since the formation of a bunion can collapse your arch enough to the point that it affects this area, according to Dr. Blitz. Ample support on the outside of the heel can counteract the collapse of the arch.
Now that you’re armed with expert advice about what to look for in a sneaker, it’s time to start shopping. Whether you’re looking for a mesh running shoe with extra give at the toe or are need a little extra heel cushioning, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading for Woman’s World’s picks for best running shoes for women over 50.
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Why we like it:
- Engineered air mesh offers support and breathability
- DNA Loft technology provides extra-soft cushioning
- Available in 16 colors
Not only does the Brooks Ghost 13 have a mesh toe box, like the kind Dr. Blitz recommends, which offer feet with bunions slightly more “give,” it also has heel-to-forefoot DNA Loft technology for ultra-plush cushioning. There are hundreds of 5-star reviews for this best-selling shoe, which also comes equipped with BioMoGo DNA, a responsive foam that offers softness without sacrificing durability. They’re also easy on the eyes, with no shortage of color combinations to choose from, including this vibrant yellow, pink, and blue design.
Happy customer: “These are my favorite running shoes ever! I feel like I have tried absolutely every brand and style of running shoe out there and I couldn’t find the “perfect” one … These are absolutely my perfect fit! Enough room in the toe box when my feet swell a couple miles in, supportive cushion in all the right places, super soft laces that stay tied, and a non-slip heel cup. LOVE LOVE LOVE! Brooks finally got it perfect and I hope they stay this way forever.”
Why we like it:
- Zoom Air bag in the forefoot enhances responsiveness
- React foam provides a “springy” effect
- Engineered mesh for breathability and support
Nike’s Air Zoom Pegasus, sometimes called The Peg, is a long-standing favorite in Nike’s running shoe collection. The Peg 37 features a beveled, or low and rounded, heel. Shoes with a beveled heel are often preferred by runners, since the shape better aligns with that of their heel bone, allowing the foot to land in a more comfortable position. McGinnis also shared the importance of a well-fitted heel: “You want the back of the [shoe’s] heel … to be rigid and snug to the back of your [foot’s] heel,” she said. “If you can squish down the back of the [shoe’s] heel, then it’s too soft to fully support your foot and keep you from sliding around.”
Happy customer: “I was looking for a new shoe to restart my fitness routine after a major knee surgery and found these shoes. I have arthritis in my large toes and have a high arch. These shoes fit amazing! They are like walking on air, [while] jogging I have full support, and they are super stylish … Highly recommend them and will definitely purchase another pair in a darker color.”
Why we like it:
- GuideRails support helps protect your knees
- DNA Loft cushioning provides stability
- Available in 21 colors
For many older runners, knee pain can be an issue, which is why the engineers behind Brooks’ Adrenaline GTS 21 running shoe shifted their focus from your feet to what they call “the most injury-prone part of a runner’s body:” your knees! The development of their GuideRails feature, which can be seen along the sides of the shoe, was designed to prevent “excess movement” in this area. In addition, the DNA Loft cushioning offers increased stability and a smooth transition from heel to toe. If you’re looking for a more stable shoe and are prone to knee pain or injury, this is a great option!
Happy customer: “I’ve struggled to find the right exercise shoe. I’m not a super athlete but I enjoy a good cardio class and I love to walk. These suit my 60 year old feet perfectly. The firm support has helped my feet and knees and I am not hurting after I exercise … I think I’ve finally found my exercise shoe.”
Why we like it:
- Fresh Foam midsole offers an ideal combination of cushioning and support
- Removable foam insole
- Ultra Heel conforms to your foot for added support
Shoes that offer more cushioning are often best for heel strikers, or runners who make contact with the ground with their heel first as opposed to their mid-foot or forefoot. “If you’re a heel striker, you may need more cushioning to absorb the forces when your heel hits the ground. If you have any joint issues, you may also feel better with a little bit more cushioning on the shoe,” recommends McGinnis. If you’re looking for a shoe that’s on the firmer side with plenty of cushion, the New Balance Fresh Foam More is a top contender. It’s engineered with New Balance’s own light, ultra-bouncy proprietary foam (aptly dubbed Fresh Foam), making it a well-padded respite for your foot.
Happy customer: “These fit me exceptionally well! I have so much foot pain, previous foot surgery, hence wear a double wide and walk incorrectly in general. These shoes have my feet feeling the happiest they have in years! Great cushion and all around comfort, and I notice I’m walking more correctly, too, moreso doing the correct foot roll and putting pressure in the right places. I just ordered another pair!”
Why we like it:
- FlyteFoam Propel Technology provides supreme bounce
- Reflective materials enhance visibility during low light hours
- Available in 10 colors
When compared to monthly gym memberships or pricey group classes, running is a relatively inexpensive form of exercise, but the cost of running shoes can be steep. For a high-quality, budget-friendly shoe, we turn to Asics. The Gel-Cumulus 20 features an increased landing surface, which allows it to accommodate each and every foot strike. Plus, while you’ll save on the price, you won’t have to sacrifice cushioning: This shoe is made with Asics’ own FlyteFoam technology, providing continuous cushiony underfoot support, as well as ample room for your tootsies in the toe area — both seriously important factors for mature runners.
Happy customer: “I have high arches and plantar fasciitis, so I’m in a lot of pain after walking/running for long distances. These are the best sneakers I’ve ever owned! They have great arch support and ankle support, are flexible, and have bounce (like you’re on a trampoline) … I just ran 5 miles in them: no foot pain! … I just ordered a 2nd pair in a different color. I love them.”
Why we like it:
- Ideal for running on roads and hard surfaces
- Rearfoot and forefoot GEL cushioning systems
- Superior shock absorption
Running can take its toll on some of the most vulnerable parts of our bodies, and ankles are among the most common. Luckily, finding the right running shoe can help prevent issues like sprains and swelling before they happen, or provide a more comfortable experience for those who suffer from ankle pain. Reviewers praise the ASICS GEL-Kayano 27 for its stability and cushioning, saying it’s been a game-changer in terms of accommodating their ankles. The shoe was designed with shock absorption in mind, making it an ideal choice for running on roads, and the GEL cushioning systems located at both the rearfoot and forefront make for smoother transitions.
Happy customer: “I ran cross country in college and injured my left ankle. I did PT and was seen by multiple orthopedic surgeons. I was told I needed to wear orthotics. Being a vain college kid, I said that was out of the question. The surgeon then said, “Well it’s orthotics or ASICS!” And I’ve been wearing ASICS ever since. I have zero ankle pain and can keep up with my workouts.”
Why we like it:
- Available in regular and wide sizes
- Breathable, sock-like fit
- Comes in 7 colors
Just starting out on your running journey? Congrats! You’ll want to look for a running shoe that will keep you comfortable and protected as you acclimate to the physical demands of running, and for that we love the Women’s Ride 14 from Saucony. Available in regular and wide sizes, this shoe incorporates FORMFIT design to give you a breathable, sock-like fit that feels like it was custom made for your foot. It also features PWRRUN cushioning to provide just the right balance of softness and responsiveness to inspire longer runs over time. Bonus: this shoe comes in several of Saucony’s signature fun color combinations, including the bright coral shown here.
Happy customer: “Great running shoe. I’ve used for about 4 weeks now. Plenty of cushion and comfortable run. Plenty of toe room, which I’ve had problems with in other shoes.”
Why we like it:
- Laceless, slip-on design
- FlyKnit Loft material offers extra softness
- Available in black or white
These super-comfy Nike sneakers live up to their Phantom namesake by practically “disappearing” on your foot! The laceless, slip-on design was created to provide a soft, smooth running experience, and features elastic to keep your feet feeling secure. A lot of consideration was taken when crafting this shoe, which focuses on providing support for the “three phases of a runner’s stride” : toe-off, mid-stance, and contact, and a new and improved FlyKnit Loft material provides triple-layer padding at the forefoot for optimal comfort. The white or black color options are equally sleek, and we wouldn’t be surprised if you chose to wear them outside of running!
Happy customer: “These shoes are amazing. I bought them for long distance running. Seriously these shoes are so comfortable. Slip them on and go run all the miles. I have worn them up to 14 miles at a time so far… no pain. No rubbing. No sore spots on my feet. They stay on nice, snug but not too tight. Cushion is perfect. Highly recommend these for running.”
Why we like it:
- Available in wide sizes 5-13
- Fresh Foam underfoot
- Comes in 7 colors
If your feet run wide, don’t fret! There are running shoes designed for wider foot sizes, and reviewers can’t get enough of the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11 sneakers (many write that they’ve purchased multiple pairs!). Available in wide sizes from 5-13, these ultra-plush running shoes come with Fresh Foam on the underfoot and a mesh upper for an all-around comfortable feel. For a more secure, snug fit, the Ultra Heel design hugs the back of your foot, while the “bootie” upper construction ensures everything stays in place. For even more cushioning, this shoe comes with an ortholite sockliner.
Happy customer: “These are my second pair of the 1080v11. I now have a pair for working in the yard and one for working out. I have so much trouble finding wide toe box shoes. It seems the only supportive and comfortable ones are from New Balance.”
Why we like it:
- Made with renewable materials
- SweetFoam midsole provides comfort and stability
- Outsole includes natural rubber traction pads
These Tree Dashers from Allbirds are an all-around great running shoe, but their incredibly lightweight, breathable design makes them perfect for running on your treadmill. While the best treadmills will come equipped with good-grip belts, it’s also important to make sure your running shoes won’t slip and slide, and the Tree Dashers feature natural rubber traction pads on the outsoles for reinforcement. The unique one-piece upper is made of eucalyptus trees for flexibility and breathability, while the dual-density SweetFoam midsole provides optimal comfort and stability — and to keep your foot in place, Merino wool lines the heel for added support. While Allbirds is known for its stylish designs, it’s even more regarded for its eco-conscious use of natural, renewable materials, so the Tree Dashers will make you feel great on all levels!
Happy customer: “This is my 4th pair of Allbirds. With aging comes sore feet, but these shoes make my feet feel good, allow me to be active without pain, and not look like I have old lady tennis shoes on. Love them!”
Why we like it:
- J-Frame innovation provides support for overpronation
- Meta-Rocker geometry emulates a more natural gait
- Well-cushioned and lightweight
You may think of Hoka as that popular sneaker brand that young people can’t seem to get enough of, but as it turns out, they make fantastic running shoes for people of any age! The Arahi 5 sneaker in particular is a good option for runners with flat feet, thanks to its trademarked J-Frame innovation. While there are exceptions, flat-footed runners have a tendency to overpronate, or roll their feet inward upon landing, and the Arahi 5’s J-Frame design provides extra foam support on the side where this typically occurs. In addition, this shoe is equipped with Meta-Rocker geometry for a more natural-feeling gait, and somehow manages to strike the perfect balance between being both well-cushioned and lightweight. Maybe the kids know what they’re talking about!
Happy customer: “The Hoka Arahi are the best running shoes I have ever worn. I have been a runner for over 30 years, I overpronate and my feet get very tired and sore. These shoes let me run without pain — the cushion really is remarkable. I highly recommend these shoes.”