9 Best Shoes To Wear After Knee Replacement Surgery (Walking, Running, Slip Ons, Sandals)

(I may earn a small commission from the products mentioned in this post.)

Are you looking for the best shoes to wear after TKR surgery?  Whether it’s walking or running shoes, slip ons, or even sandals we’ve got you covered.

Deciding to get total knee replacement surgery is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in life. If you’ve come to this article you’ve likely made that decision and have a number of questions about how to prepare for surgery with exercises and equipment.

It’s also important to consider the necessary gear that will aid recovery, performance, strength, and knee flexibility.

In this article, I draw on my experience with knee replacement to share the best shoes to wear after knee replacement surgery. Believe it or not, shoes play a big role with knee joint care and knee rehabilitation.

Choosing the best shoes after TKR will add extra support and cushion for your knee.  We’ll also take a look at the best sandals, consider whether it’s ok to wear high heels after knee replacement, and find out if shoe inserts help your knee after TKR surgery.

Let’s get started.

Best Shoes After Knee Replacement Surgery

Rank Brand/Model Women/Men Purpose Price
#1 Nike Air Max Tavas Men Walking $$$
#2 New Balance 510v3 Men Walking $$$
#3 Skechers Equalizer Men Walking (Slip Ons) $
#4 Nike Air Max Invigor Men Running $$$
#5 Nike Air Max TR180 Men Running $$$
#6 New Balance 990v4 Men Running $$$
#7 Nice Air Max Invigor Women Walking $$$
#8 Skechers Slip On Women Walking (Slip Ons) $
#9 New Balance Arishi Women Running $$

Do I Need New Shoes After Knee Replacement

This is a common question for people who’ve decided to get a knee replacement. Most people can appreciate a good pair of shoes – even if your legs and joints are in great shape.

As a former college athlete and active adult, I’ve purchased and tried 10-20 of the most popular shoe brands for walking, running, and hiking.

These include:

  • Nike
  • Asics
  • Adidas
  • Timberland
  • New Balance
  • Converse
  • Solomon
  • Reebok
  • Hi-Tech
  • Columbia
  • North Face
  • Under Armour
  • Hoka

I’m an avid hiker and enjoyed running when my knee was in better condition so I’d chose a shoe and brand based on what I was using it for.

For example, if I was going on a hike I’d choose a rugged shoe with good ankle support and a strong sole like Solomon and Hi-tech.

For running and walking I would usually choose a soft-soled shoe or one with “air” in the heel – similar to Nike, New Balance, and Asics.

Now that my knee requires more support, I find that using a walking or running shoe gives me a little extra padding to take the pressure off my joint.

Think of your shoe sas the shock absorbers on your car. Remember, you can also add shoe inserts that help even more with cushion.  Also read my article about the best shoe inserts after TKR.

It’s not fun riding in a car with bad shock absorbers because it makes for a rough ride. Our bodies are the same way. However, because it’s so subtle we may not realize the extra “shock absorbing” we get from our shoes.

Even if I’m not a runner, I usually gravitate toward running shoes for comfort and daily use.

Why, you ask?

Because running shoes are made to reduce the repetitive impact caused by running and they are made with more cushion technology in the heel (air, gel etc.).

They also have good arch support to enhance the position on the foot.

Best Shoes For Walking After Knee Replacement Surgery (plus Slip Ons)

Below is my list for the best walking shoes after knee replacement. These are my opinions as an athlete and someone who spends most of my days outside.

I’ve tried many brands but keep coming back to Nike and New Balance. I especially like the comfort and cushion they provide my knee after surgery.

Below I’ve also highlighted a few similar options for women.

No. 1 Nike Air Max Tavas

The Nike Air Max Tavas is a shoe that provides a maximum amount of cushion for people with knee replacement. “Air Max” is Nike’s high-end option for comfort and quality.

I’ve used Nike Air Max shoes for a few decades and I’ve never had problems with quality or comfort problems. I like Nike because they always meet my expectations and are they are the most comfortable shoe available (check Tevas price and reviews on Amazon).

I especially like the Tavas model because there are so many color styles to choose from. If you like black, white, or brightly colored shoes, this model offers it all.

Nike has a large selection of sizes for every type of foot imaginable. The Nike Tavas has hundreds of customer reviews that rave about the product and it comes at a competitive price for a high-end brand.

No. 2 New Balance Men’s 510v3 Trail Running Shoe

These New Balance shoes come in a variety of grey-toned colors. They are considered “trail running” shoes but don’t be confused, they can also be used for day-to-day use around the house and for walks on pavement or on dirt.

New Balance offers width options that many of the other shoe brands don’t have. This product is even made in the United States, which is nice to see!

>> check NB Trail Shoe price and reviews on Amazon

I like this shoe in particular because of its’ versatility, and the 1000’s of reviews that also recommend the product. New Balance shoes will provide the extra comfort that your knee will appreciate after TKR surgery.

No. 3 Sketchers Men’s Equalizer Slip On Shoe

Slip on shoes after knee replacement surgery can be very beneficial.  The problem we’ve found is that most slip on shoes don’t offer as good of cushion as traditional walking and running shoes.

But I understand that some people will want the convenience of a slip on shoe.  It makes putting on shoes much easier and quicker!

I’ve shared in previous articles that I had help tying and untying my shoes for the first week after surgery.

Slip ons would have been much easier and I had my extra long shoe horn that I used while standing – you hardly have to bend over when using that shoehorn.

As far as the Sketcher Slip Ons (pictured) they come in multiple colors to suit your style. However, I like the black color because they are more versatile for casual and formal occasions.

The other colors look more sporty.

>>check Sketchers Slip Ons on Amazon

These shoes have excellent reviews from customers (with over 3000 positive reviews) and a very high average rating.

Many customers mention they are perfect after knee surgery and for walking around the house.  Other comments say that they come at a “great price and are comfy” but not for long walks outside.

Best Running Shoes After Knee Replacement Surgery

We won’t judge whether you should be running after knee replacement surgery but I believe most medical professionals would advise against it. My surgeon advised me against jogging or running. There are plenty of alternatives to running that are great workouts.

My favorites activities are swimming, the elliptical machine, and bike riding.The more active you are, the more important your shoe choice is. For high intensity workouts I recommend the shoes below:

No. 4 Nike Men’s Air Max Invigor

With this shoe Nike offers a subtle yet stylish shoe that looks great on younger and older adults. The shoe is meant for performance so whether you’re running, stretching, or walking on the treadmill, this shoe will provide a soft cushion to help you recover and excel after knee replacement surgery.

The shoe is a synthetic upper, with a strong rubber sole and a large air bubble in the heel. Similar to the above-mentioned Nike shoe, the Invigor has great reviews and the same Nike qualities you’d expect.

>> check Nike Invigor price and reviews on Amazon

Reviewers mentioned they are a runner’s shoe but can be worn for any occasion. They like the color selection and the simple, yet fashionable design.

No. 5 Nike Air Max TR180 Cross Trainer

This is my personal favorite, mostly because of its look. Nike’s TR180 Air Max has a sleek, minimalist look. The shoe can be worn for its true purpose, running, or can be worn at a backyard BBQ on the weekend.

The shoe is versatile and will provide plenty of support to the knees. Once you buy these, rotate your shoes between your other brands and with this Nike I believe you’ll feel the difference.

>> check Nike TR180 price and reviews on Amazon

If I haven’t worn my Nikes in a few weeks and put them on, I notice more cushion immediately.

No. 6 New Balance Men’s 990V4 Running Shoe

This is the classic 990 shoes for New Balance but it’s been upgraded for running performance. This shoe comes in a number of colors but grey is the original.

New Balance shoes tend to offer a sizing in “width” so if you have wide or narrow feet you can order the shoe accordingly.

Because it’s New Balance’s best model and made in the U.S., it comes at a premium price but is on par with the pricing of Nike .(check New Balance price and reviews on Amazon).

If you haven’t tried New Balance before, give them a try. I was apprehensive at first but I enjoy wearing and exercising in New Balance.

Best Walking and Running Shoes for Women After Knee Replacement (plus Slip Ons)

I shared a few shoe options for men and didn’t want to leave out the women, so I’ve included a few Nike and New Balance picks below.

Nike and New Balance offer men’s and women’s options for most of their shoes so I’m sure you can find the men’s choices in women’s sizes too. If not, the two options below should be great shoes for women after knee replacement surgery.

No. 7 Nike Women’s Air Max Invigor Print

We also mentioned the Air Max Invigor above. This shoe works great for women too.

I’ve seen many commercials about shoe brands “made specifically for women” – this is a great marketing tool, however, you shouldn’t be surprised to know that the biggest and best shoe company (NIKE) in the world also “makes shoes specifically for women”.

Nike doesn’t make a man’s identical to a woman’s. Feet, pressure, and width will differ slightly and Nike does a good job making shoes no matter the gender.

The Invigor Print running show has the quality and comfort required for people like us recovering from knee replacement surgery.

>> check Nike Women’s price and reviews on Amazon

As I’ve stated above, the air cushion is top notch on this shoe (same as all air max offerings) and you’ll be able to feel it when you try this shoe. In fact, your new knee might thank you for it!

No. 8 Skechers Women’s Slip On

Skechers makes a colorful and comfortable shoe for women looking for a slip on after knee replacement.  Even though these shoes are slip ons they are sporty and can be worn while doing a simple exercise like walking and stretching.

I really like the 7 color options that range from grey to black, to green, and pink.

The upper shoe is breathable and stretchy so it will reduce foot movement or slipping when it’s worn. The sole uses a proprietary 5Gen cushioning and they are super lightweight (check the Skechers slip on shoe at Amazon).

Customers mention they are great for walking and being active.  Some people even wear them without socks.  After TKR surgery these slip ons will be convenient so you won’t have to bother tying shoelaces (use the long shoe horn we mentioned above).

No. 9 New Balance Women’s Fresh Foam Arishi V1 Running Shoe

New Balance is known more for making functional high-quality shoes instead of being known for making beautiful stylish shoes. The New Balance Arishi V1 is the exception because it looks great.

I like the rubber sole and the soft contrast of color options.

Of course, if you want a more flashy color then go for the Thunder/Alpha Pink option. These shoes offer New Balance’s 1.0 performance insert, which provides extra shock absorption. It also has a rubber sole, low-top arch, and flexible foam midsole.

>> check NB Women’s Arishi price and reviews

Similar to some of the other shoes on this list, these shoes can be worn for performance (training) and daily use around the home. They are comfy and stylish.

Can I Wear Sandals After Knee Replacement

If you’re like me, chances are you’ll be feeling much better after getting knee replacement surgery.

The answer is yes!

There are times when wearing sandals is necessary; lazy days by the pool, lounging around the house, or a trip to the beach.

Wearing sandals is not going to wear down your knee but I do recommend that when doing strenuous outdoor activities (including a long walk), you wear shoes with good cushion and support.

If you’re looking for a good pair of sandals that are soft with cushion, we really like:

Reef Men’s Leather Fanning Sandal

It is made with leather and a molded EVA midsole and rubber sole. It has extra cushion support of one inch in the heel and uses the air technology for extra shock absorption and comes in most sizes and widths.

It can get wet and it is great for use in the yard or at the beach. Best of all it has a bottle opener on the bottom of the sole (beer opener).

>> Reef Leather Fanning Sandal on Amazon

Reviewers like the fact that it wears like a sandal but has the support of a shoe. One customer mentioned their need for orthopedic shoes and inserts, but these sandals performed well for her.

Shoe Accessories (Inserts) To Use After Knee Replacement

You might also be wondering about using insoles with your new shoes. I’ve used insoles on a number of occasions when my feet are hurting so I know they work. Insoles are fairly simple in their application.

They can be purchased according to size (and trimmed if needed). Some insoles fit from heel to toe inside the shoe while others are placed in a specific location.

For example a heel pad, or a pad for the ball of the foot. The 2 options below offer 1) a whole foot gel pad and 2) pads for a specific place of the foot.

Gel Heel Cups Inserts – Silicone Pads

These gel heel cups are marketed for plantar fasciitis and bone spurs, but they also provide that extra padding you might need after TKR surgery (every little bit helps).

These are made with silicone and come in a 3-pack and are great to use in various pairs of shoes for walking, running, or lounging around the house.

>> check Gel Heel Cups Inserts price

The silicone is “non-slip” and because it fits in the heel, it can be used for multiple size shoes. They sell in small (kids/women with small feet) or large (average adults).

If you purchase new shoes, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to use these as well for added joint comfort.

Dr. Scholl’s Comfort and Energy Work Insoles

Dr. Scholl’s is a well-known American company. I grew up seeing these inserts on the shelves of drug stores and most of us have tried them in our shoes.

This Dr. Scholl’s product is for the whole shoe and comes in a size range (e.g. 8-14). After purchase, the sole can be cut to fit your specific size.

It’s designed to reduce the impact of hard surfaces – exactly what we want after TKR surgery.

>> check Dr. Scholl’s insoles price

This insert uses a massaging gel technology and extra cushion to provide shock absorption. The shoe insert also has a solid arch support that will contour to your foot.

Adding these to your new pair of shows will take more pressure off your knee while it recovers.

Important Components Of A Shoe

Let’s take a look at the components of a good running shoe. According to Road Runner Sports, the running shoe has three parts; the upper area, the midsole, and the outsole. These three parts seem fairly straightforward, right?

Upper Area

This is the part of the running shoe that envelops the foot. It’s made up of stitched material, a tongue, and laces. The stitched material has evolved in running shoes from leather to synthetic, to ultra-lightweight mesh that allows for breathability, but still offers a firm hold on the foot.

The upper area is strong, lightweight, and will break down over time from wear and tear.

Midsole

The midsole is the most important part of the running shoe because it provides the shock absorbing function of the shoe. In most cases, it is made up of 3 materials.

  1. EVA, which is a foam based cushion
  2. Dual-density EVA which can add to the strength of the shoe
  3. Polyurethane, is a highly durable cushion. EVA is too but it weighs more.

Outsole

The outsole is all about grip and traction. Is there adequate grip on the shoe for the type of running exercise you’ll be doing? An outsole can be made up of carbon rubber (strong, like tire rubber) or blown rubber (lighter and more flexible).

For people recovering from knee replacement surgery, chances are you don’t need to be worried about traction. Almost all shoes, whether walking or running, have solid traction and a softer, more flexible outsole (blown rubber) that will probably work great.

Related: Must Have Items After Knee Replacement Surgery

In addition to these components of the running shoe, you should also consider the “extras” that companies use to market their shoe. Nike uses “air max”.

They literally use air in the sole that provides extra bounce and shock absorbing. Asics uses a proprietary gel that adds cushion to each step.

Best Brands Of Shoes For Cushion and Comfort

Choosing which shoe brand to buy is fairly easy. I’ve tried enough shoes to know which ones give my knee the most relief.

I’ve also watched enough sports to see what athletes prefer to wear. Yes, many athletes are sponsored by shoe brands and must wear a specific brand, however, the vast majority of professional athletes don’t have a shoe contract.

A quick look at high impact sports like football and basketball reveals that most athletes prefer Nike. It’s a similar story in baseball, where players spend hours on their feet during a game.

Nike has a few characteristics that allow it to surpass other brands

  1. Long history with athletes

The first Nike shoes were developed for track athletes and were made in a waffle iron. They’ve come a long way and are now a behemoth in athletic shoes and sports apparel worldwide.

It’s not the fact they were the 1st (which they were) but that they’ve reinvested their money into research and development. Sure, they are also a fashion statement, but their priority as a company is comfort.

Technologies like “air max” provide that comfort.

  1. Rapport with marathon runners

Marathon runners have a reason to be concerned with the cushion in their shoes. 26.2 miles isn’t a “walk in the park”, not to mention they have to train multiple times per week before their competitions.

Talk to a 50-year-old marathoner and he more than likely feels the miles he has put on his ankles, knees, and hips.

I’m not surprised the best marathoners all use Nike as their shoe of choice. There are other brands that make lighter shoes, but Nike combines technology with comfort.

New Balance is another favorite

I was introduced to New Balance a few decades ago. There are a plethora of shoes that come and go and I was certain New Balance wasn’t here to stay. That all changed when I bought a pair.

Unlike most U.S. shoe companies, New Balance makes the majority of their products in America and thus their prices are sometimes higher than their competitors (I like and appreciate this).

They are not the massive public company that Nike is, but New Balance has a loyal customer base of runners and outdoor enthusiasts.

New Balance was founded in the early 1900’s but gained popularity in the 1990s by offering the 990 model that Apple founder Steve Jobs preferred. In addition to making most of their shoes in the U.S. they offer gel blended inserts and a wider selection of sizes and widths than most shoe brands.

Once I ran in these shoes I was hooked and I’ve bought a number of NB shoes to exercise in and for comfortable day-to-day use.

Related: Best Vitamins and Supplements After TKR

How Often Should I Replace My Shoes After Knee Replacement

Running shoes and walking shoes should be replaced regularly. Much like any clothing product they won’t last forever, even if we keep them in good condition.

For people like us with knee replacement, the timetable should be shortened to maximize the “bounce” and the effectiveness of the shoe support.

Runners recommend changing shoes between 300-500 miles. Considering this mileage, a serious runner is changing shoes every couple of months.

Obviously, people who have knee replacement surgery won’t be as active, but upgrading to a fresh pair of shoes every 4-5 months is a wise decision. Remember, because our bodies adapt to the comfort provided by the shoe, we won’t notice a decrease in cushion/support.

Can I Wear Heels After Knee Replacement

Wearing heels after knee replacement surgery is a big step. If it’s shortly after your surgery I recommend not doing so.

I understand how important it is to keep the joints aligned (ankles, knees, hips) and wearing heels will put a unique type of pressure on the joints and ligaments.

A fall or misstep could cause pain and damage to a knee that is healing post-surgery.

If you’re in great health and strengthen your legs and ligaments with rehabilitation, wearing heels might be an option. However, I recommend not trying it until long after surgery and after speaking with your doctor.

Conclusion

There are many things to consider when deciding to have total knee replacement surgery. Among them are recovery time, physical therapy, and stretching and strengthening.

If you’re like me, you will also consider the necessary equipment that will aid in your recovery.

In this article, we focused on shoes and their role in helping you recover from TKR surgery. Shoes are a small part of the solution, but choosing the right pair can take a lot of pressure off your knee – every little bit helps.

There are many different shoe companies but I’ve found that some of the biggest shoe companies also offer the most comfortable shoes and those with the best shock absorption. Companies that focus on running shoes are a great place to look because their goal is to reduce the impact that your feet have with the ground.

Nike got its start on the track and continues to be a powerhouse worldwide. They reinvest heavily in technology to keep feet safe and comfortable.

New Balance also focuses on running but are a smaller brand. They offer quality products (many that are made in the U.S.) and offer more width sizes than most companies.

I like what these shoe brands have to offer for walking, running, and generally exercising. Your choice of shoes should keep your feet and knees feeling good.

If you want to maximize the cushion in your shoe, consider using an insert made of gel or silicone. Shoe inserts can help relieve pressure on your lower limbs and add some bounce to your step. I always wear my Nike Air Max and occasionally add the heel insoles for long walks.

I hope this helps in your quest for a good recovery from knee replacement surgery. I’ve searched for everything related to knee replacement surgery and my goal is to help others find options and solutions to recover quickly and improve their quality of life – just as I have. I welcome you to read more blog articles on our website.

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