Are Cushioned Shoes Bad for Your Joints?

Big shoe companies will try to tell you that all that padding and “motion control” technology is helping to protect you from impact. 

A new study from Oregon State University found the opposite. You can read all about it in this New York Times article: “Super-Cushioned Running Shoes are All the Rage, But Aren’t Foolproof.”

If you hit the article-limit paywall, here are the big takeaways on why cushioned shoes are bad for your joints: 

  • Runners in “maximalist” cushioned running shoes hit the ground harder, and pronate more (roll their ankles inward), than runners in neutral shoes
  • This tendency gets WORSE the more you run in those shoes
  • Super-maximal shoes “tend to be more unstable” than low-to-the-ground barefoot running shoes, even on roads and track

Xero Shoes Make Happier, Healthier Runners

If there’s a common thread among the tens of thousands of Xero Shoes reviews, it’s this: Nobody started wearing Xero Shoes because of any special technology. 

They just wanted to move better, and feel better. And guess what: They do!  

Skeptic turned believer!

“I love that I can feel the ground beneath me when I walk, and it has really increased my proprioception so I’m not wobbly or tripping. I usually would kick my shoes off and go barefoot as soon as I got home, but now they don’t come off until I go to bed.” – Timothy C

Amazing, life-changing shoes

“I bought them because I stand all day. They are perfect. Changed my life in two days! I will buy them again.” – Donna C.

Amazingly comfortable

“I feel safer walking the trails wearing Xero Shoes – especially navigating rocky areas. I own 5 pairs and love them.” – Linda T


Great shoes. They really do make my feet feel good. Thanks! – Shane T

New to running in Xero Shoes? Start here.

You’ll have a better experience “transitioning” from maximalist or cushioned shoes to in Xero Shoes if you have: 

  • A good idea of what to expect
  • A plan to follow

Get both in this article from Xero Shoes CEO Steven Sashen, How to Transition to Barefoot Shoes.