As we age, we tend to lose tissue mass as well as elasticity in our musculoskeletal system. Our muscles gradually show signs of wear and tear and our limbs no longer perform as they did earlier. Apart from normal wear, old age often brings along its share of health conditions that can further challenge our musculoskeletal system.
Support for our musculoskeletal system when walking or running begins at our feet. It is our feet that pound the pavement when we move, so it is there that we want to begin lessening impact. As such, it is important to treat our feet with a pair of comfortable running shoes that are designed to reduce and impact and provide stability and propulsion when we walk or run.
Over the past few decades, a gradually sedentary lifestyle and sub-optimal diet have increased the likelihood of age-related health issues in the elderly. If you are an older runner and are looking for running shoes for yourself, it is fantastic that you are devoting to your physical fitness! It is estimated that less than a third of the population over the age of 65 is physically active.
In this article, we will look at how aging affects our feet and what we should consider before buying a running shoe for seniors. We will go on to review a few of the best running shoes for older runners.
How Age Affects the Feet of Older Runners
The human foot is made of 26 bones and a complicated collection of ligaments, tendons, and muscles. With age, the tendons and ligaments of our feet tend to lose their elasticity and begin to stretch out. To prolong the longevity of our aging feet, we call on the use of specially-designed footwear for walking or running.
As we age, common foot conditions also include shortening of the Achilles’ tendon due to loss of water in the tissue and this can also result in a more flat-footed walking or running posture. This reduces the depth of the arch of our feet and leads to flat feet. This condition can cause pain in the arch of the foot if the arch is not well-supported with suitable footwear with arch support.
Arthritis, particularly osteoarthritis, is more common in the elderly and can affect the ankle bone and joint, leading to pain in that area. These and a few other conditions are quite common in the elderly and will also require carefully-selected footwear to suit your feet and running needs.
Here is a video that shows jogging tips to help older runners run in a more safe way:
What to Consider When Buying Running Shoes for Seniors
- Enough Space for all Toes: Many running shoes, or most shoes for that matter, have tapered ends while the human feet are not tapered; in fact, the front of the feet expand all through the toes. Therefore, it is very important that your toes get enough space at the front of the shoe and are not scrunched up from lack of space, which may lead to reduced blood flow and formation of warts.
- Sole Padding: Running shoes for older runners should have ample padding on the heels. The soles should have , but should also be fairly thick and covered in comfortable cushioning to give support to the Achilles’ tendon and ankle bones. Moreover, they should support the arch of your feet with extra padding to prevent aggravating any conditions that can reduce the elasticity of your feet ligaments. Additional padding in running shoes for seniors also prevents conditions that result from excessive supination.
- Ventilation: Running shoes for seniors should have adequate ventilation via some sort of a mesh upper construction. You should avoid tying laces too tight to prevent compromised blood flow to the feet while running.
- Size: It is important for older runners to always get footwear that is comfortable and not a very snug fit for your feet. As long as the shoes are secure and do not slip, get a large enough size, particularly if you are buying a shoe that tapers at the front.
Below, we review some of the best running shoes for seniors. We hope that the reviews will help you select the right product for your feet.
#1 – ASICS Gel-Nimbus Running Shoes
The ASICS Gel-Nimbus is a premium running shoe with a lot of technologies packed into the sole, arch, and the body. The Flytefoam technology in the midsole offers more comfort and bounce.
Forefoot GEL technology reduces stress on toes and the front of the foot. The Trusstic technology on the arch helps provide better support to the arch of the foot and increases the longevity of the shoe. The corresponding women’s running shoe with similar features is the ASICS Women’s Gel-Venture running shoes.
- Shoe body is made of synthetic mesh fabric for ventilation and breathable wear
- Available in 22 colors and designs; You can choose the one that best matches your personality
- Lightweight but durable sole
- Good cushioning with rearfoot and forefoot GEL technology reduces shock during impact
- Available in wide and extra-wide sizes for better comfort for seniors
- Good support for arch of the foot
- Wide and thick cushioning on the collar to support the Achilles’ tendon and ankle bone
- On the expensive side
- Runs slightly smaller in size, so your normal sizing may be a bit snug, leading to compression of big and small toes. Try one size large or the wide/extra wide version.
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#2 – Under Armour Men’s Charged Assert Running Shoe
The Under Armour Charged Assert running shoes are made of polyester and elastane, with leather overlays on the collar, lace holes, and the front of the shoe for greater durability and longevity. The shoe has rubber soles for good shock absorption and its 4E sizing is built to better fit runners with wider feet.
- Breathable shoe body for comfortable, long periods of use
- Good cushioning on sole and forefoot, as well as collar of the shoe for better absorption of shocks
- Available in 15 different colors
- Comfortable and suitable for heavier users
- Leather overlays on the rims and midfoot for greater durability and stability
- Extra lace holes help you to tie and secure the midfoot for a better running experience
- All colors come with white outer soles which may become dirty with outdoor use. Requires regular cleaning to maintain if you want to keep your shoes as white as possible.
#3 – New Balance Men’s 608 V5 Casual Comfort Cross Trainer
These running shoes are made either of suede material or synthetic leather and have a rubber sole with a dual density collar foam.
The shoes come in 10 different colors and designs and are available in wide or extra wide sizes for customized fitting.
- Available in 10 colors and designs to choose from
- High-density collar foam for better support of the Achilles’ tendon and ankle joint
- Available in wide and extra-wide sizes
- Rubber sole for better comfort and absorption of impact
- Removable insoles for extra cushioning
- Support for arch of the foot can be better designed
- Fabric breathability may be a concern if your feet tend to be hot
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#4 – Saucony Integrity Shoes
These shoes are made of 100 percent full-grain leather and have rubber soles. Perforations on the body of the shoe ensure breathability. It has a premium carbon rubber outsole layer in the high wear zones for longer durability.
- Made of full-grain leather for better durability and strength
- Shoe design provides good support for the arch of the foot
- Padding on tongue and collar for extra cushioning and comfort during long periods of use
- Available in narrow, wide, and extra-wide versions in each size for a completely customized fitting experience
- High lacing for a snug fit on the mid-foot
- Carbon rubber outsole layer adds to the durability of the sole and shoe
- Lack of sole grip on wet surfaces
- Leather, once wet, may become hard upon drying, leading to some loss of flexibility
#5 – New Balance Women’s 410 V5 Trail Running Shoes
These shoes by New Balance are made of a mix of synthetic and mesh fabric for better breathability and ventilation and have anti-wear rubber soles for long durability. It is available in 5 colors and is offered in wide sizing.
- Breathable mesh fabric lends good ventilation, keeping your feet comfortable when wearing over long periods of time
- Rubber soles lead to high absorption of impact while running
- Thick padding on the collar provides support for ankle bone and Achilles’ tendon
- Available in wide format for each of the shoe sizes
- Your normal shoe size may run a bit small on these shoes and you should ideally order one size larger. However, keep in mind to use the higher lace provisions that are provided to make your fit as snug as possible; otherwise, your heels may slip in and out of the heel cup.
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#6 – Skechers Men’s Energy Afterburn Lace Up Shoes
These Skechers shoes are made of a synthetic material and have rubber soles with a layer of carbon rubber for better longevity. The shoes are available in extra wide versions of every size and have an extra thick 1.5-inch heel for better cushioning and comfort.
- Double layer stitching for better durability and strength
- Comes in 8 designs and colors
- Available in wide and extra wide options
- Thick heels of carbon rubber for durability and good shock adsorption
- No perforations for ventilation in the shoe material; may lead to your feet perspiring more over long use.
#7 – Hoka One Women’s Bondi Running Shoe
These running shoes by Hoka One for women are made with engineered mesh fabric with an overlay of synthetic material for better durability. The mesh fabric offers a good breathable running experience. It has a thick layer of , making it great for for and conditions like .
Hoka One is well known in the running community for making shoes with some of the thickest maximum cushions and stack height available. Their shoes tend to plush and fairly durable, making for some great shoe options for older runners.
There is a corresponding men’s Bondi shoe: HOKA ONE ONE Bondi 6 Black/Black Mens 7.
- Padded insoles offer good cushioning on rough and graveled paths, suitable for a , yet still a
- Extra cushioning on collar and tongue to provide support to the ankle bone
- Provides support for the arch of the foot, preventing supination
- Full length EVA mid-sole provides further shock absorption
- On the expensive side
- A shoe with a rather thick sole. While plush and comfortable, may lift you higher off the ground than you would be comfortable with.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Q. The insole that my running shoes come with are insufficient. Where can I find some more supportive insoles?
If you feel that the insole cushioning is bottoming out, does not have enough arch support, or you’re feeling too much impact at the heel when walking, you may want to seek out more supportive insoles to replace them.
Some brands that specialize in making a wide array of insoles are Dr. Scholl’s, Powerfeet, Superfeet, Spenco. As each brand makes an extensive range of insoles, you can take a look at the description for each insole as see if it meets the requirements that you’re looking for.
Insoles typically vary in material (foams, gels, plastics, fabrics), thickness (thicker insoles provide more cushioning may not fit in your shoe if too thick), and amount of arch support. A large selection of these specialty insoles can be found on Amazon.
Many athletics and shoe stores produce their own in-house insoles that are of fairly good quality as well.
Q. How do I know if I should opt for wider shoes?
matters when choosing the and a for your needs. Many high-performance running shoes are designed with a tapered forefoot or with the intention of reducing air resistance during a run. These will not be an issue for those with , but for those with wider feet, a forefoot design like this can bunch up the toes to the point of discomfort and too much compression.
It is typically most noticeable that a shoe is too narrow at the forefoot and secondly the midfoot. If you are trying on a shoe and find that when you take a step, your toes don’t have enough room to splay (spread laterally) or the lateral side of your forefoot and midfoot hangs over the side of the insole, the shoe is too narrow.
If this is the case for you, opt for a wider fit of your normal size or go up a half or full size if wide options are not offered. If you are going up a full size, you will likely find that there is some excess room at the forefoot, so ensure that you are tying the laces tight enough that you feet are not sliding forward when you walk.
Q. What are some things I can do so that my running shoes last longer?
Protect them from elements: Both too much sun and too much rain can harm running shoes. You can leave you shoes out in the sun to dry, but bring them indoors once they’re dry, because baking them can degrade the materials. Similarly, dry them out if they become wet. This is less of a concern if the shoes are designed to be waterproof.
If a pair of shoes is left wet with water on the exterior and soaked with sweat on the interior, they will develop a smell from accumulation of microbes and you will wish you had cleaned them earlier.
Clean but don’t dryer them: If your shoes get caked in dirt or grime or mud, or you had a particularly sweaty run, clean them with a gentle brush and soapy water. This will avoid damage to the materials, development of unpleasant smells, and will be safer for your feet the next time you use the shoes.
You can even put them into a laundry washing machine, but only cold cycle, as a hot cycle can damage the glues holding the shoe components together. However, do not throw them into the laundry drying machine afterwards, as the heat can damage your shoes.
Use shoes for their intended purpose: A or will have a softer, lighter outsole that will do a poor job of gripping a rocky trail and will shred. Trail shoes have very grippy rubber lugs that can handle rocky trails but will wear out faster on regular roads. Plus, they tend to be significantly heavier than other running shoes. Using shoes specifically designed for their intended purpose will help extend their longevity for sure.
Rotate between pairs: Perhaps the simplest way to extend the longevity of your running shoes is to use them less if you can manage it! In this case, we don’t mean to go outside and exercise less. If you want your shoes to last longer and if your budget permits it, buy an extra pair or two of the same shoe or another shoe you like and rotate between them.
Some jogging or running enthusiasts or marathon athletes have different shoes prepared for different functions, and may have a shoe for light run days, another shoe for faster paces, and shoe specifically for marathons or mimicking a race. As previously mentioned, it’s certainly a good idea to have at least two different shoes if you run trails on some days and roads or tracks on others.
Know when to replace: We can do our best to preserve our shoes for as long as we can, and as much as we may wish it to be the case, no shoe lasts forever. Even the most premium of running shoes have a distance lifetime of 300 to 500 miles, or around 500 to 750 kilometers. Some of the most expensive racing shoes come with softer midsoles and outsoles to maximize comfort and propulsion, leading to shorter longevities in the 300 miles range.
You will know if it’s time to replace your running shoes if you notice that the midsole is significantly less springy than before and bottoms out, if the outsole rubber has worn down to the midsole, or if there are any holes in the shoe. For the purpose of this article, it is particularly important to replace a shoe if the midsole bottoms out, because it means you are not getting the impact protection that you want, putting the safety of your joints at jeopardy.
Parting Words – Our Feet Deserve Pillows Too
Considering how much pounding we put our feet through day by day and throughout our lives, it should not come as a surprise that we ought to baby our feet as much as we can, just like we treat our heads to a soft pillow when we go to bed.
Running shoes are a great variety of shoe for seniors to consider wearing more often, as they are typically designed with thicker, softer cushioning to be able to handle the rigors of athletic training. Thus, they are well suited to support joint conditions in the leg and foot that older runners may be dealing with.
Not all running shoes are made the same, as we explored. There are varieties of trail shoe and stability shoe that are made with sturdier foams and rubbers, while a walking shoe and some varieties of racing shoe are designed with plushier midsoles with a more marshmallow feel. Thankfully for our needs, a lot of running shoes are trending towards the latter variety, thanks to advancements in cushioning technology and awareness of musculoskeletal conditions.
In our opinion, the ASICS Gel-Nimbus running shoe is one of the best in its category, with a generous gel material in its forefoot and heel to reduce shock and impact, fitting our purpose of impact protection.
The Hoka Bondi is an excellent option as well, as it features one of the thickest midsoles on the market from a company that specializes in maximum cushioning, though it is on the pricier end.
The Under Armour Charged Assert is good value for money, being more affordable and a bit of a more . However, it does not skimping on a decent layer of in its .