One of the best things about running is that you can do it on almost any surface, from synthetic tracks to woodland trails.
But the type of surface on which you run influences the way your body is affected. Running on grass, for example, is easy on your legs and can be great for speedwork when it’s totally flat.
Harder surfaces, however, can deliver a fair amount of shock, placing stress on your hip, knee, and ankle joints. The risk of injury is higher, too, and running on hard surfaces can lead to inflammation like Achilles tendonitis.
Living in the city means you may not have the luxury of running on a variety of surfaces. In fact, concrete may often be your only option.
So it’s very important to find shoes that will absorb shock, support you well, and prevent injury or discomfort.
To make things easier, we’ve done the work for you and chosen the very best shoes for running on concrete.
We’ve also outlined their main features and explained why they are ideal for city runs.
First, though, let’s take a look at the important considerations when buying shoes for running on concrete.
Features to Look For in Shoes for Running on Concrete
Concrete is just about the hardest surface on which you can run and puts a lot more stress on the body than asphalt.
Mainly made of crushed rock, it is strong, cheap, and the go-to material for sidewalks. This means you’re likely to encounter it often!
There are two main things you need in a shoe you’ll be wearing on an unforgiving concrete surface – cushioning and support.
A well-cushioned shoe will absorb some of the impact force with every step. This will compensate for the hardness of the ground and help protect your back and joints from stress.
But the cushioning needs to be just right.
If it’s too soft, then you could be at an increased risk of injury through poor foot placement or sloppy footfalls. You’ll also get little energy return, so you’ll have to work a lot harder, and you’ll become tired more quickly.
Cushioning that’s too thick, on the other hand, can leave you feeling unstable, which brings its own risk of injury.
The best shoes for running on concrete should have:
- Responsive cushioning that absorbs impact without allowing your foot to move excessively
- EVA or gel footbeds to control the motion of the foot and protect the heel
- Stability in the midsole to limit pronation
The Best Shoes for Running on Concrete
#1. Topo Athletic Phantom 2
– Neutral support, roomy toe box, and a 5 mm heel-to-toe drop
– Best shoes for running on concrete if you have wide feet
You can tell that the Phantom 2 has plenty of room in the forefoot just by looking at it!
It is one of Topo’s signature ‘foot-shaped’ shoes, with the benefit of a 5 mm drop that provides more cushioning under the heel.
The two-piece midsole absorbs shock effectively and feels soft underfoot.
Made with ZipFoam, it delivers just what you need for running on concrete – a winning combination of cushioning and resilience. This makes it feel both comfortable and springy.
This shoe also holds your foot firmly in place. It features an external TPU heel counter that integrates with the midsole to keep you centered and a secure lacing system.
#2. ASICS Gel-Kayano 29
– Well cushioned, with a secure mesh upper and stabilizing features
– Best shoe for controlling overpronation
The Gel-Kayano is one of the best stability shoes out there.
The LITETRUSS technology used on the midsole’s inside angle is designed to stop your foot from rolling inward during your stride.
Yet the support is flexible and unobtrusive, adapting in response to the terrain you encounter and only becoming rigid if the arch of your foot rolls too much.
The supportive upper hugs your foot securely, whilst the heel clutching system ensures it is locked firmly into the shoe.
The amount of cushioning in the Gel-Kayano makes it perfect for running on concrete, with the rearfoot crash pad protecting your heel from the force of impact.
And you’ll really feel the benefit of the lightweight Asics’ FF BLAST™ technology in the midsole, which gives both a soft landing and an energized toe-off.
The only caveat is that this shoe is quite narrow in the toe box so you might want to consider a wider fit.
#3. New Balance Fresh Foam X More V4
– Maximum cushioning, wide platform, and a huge range of sizes and width options
– A good choice for longer runs
New Balance’s Fresh Foam line is specifically designed to cushion you from high-impact foot strikes.
Using pressure mapping and force application data gathered from real athletes, the brand has succeeded in creating one of the softest high-mileage running shoes you’ll ever experience.
The latest addition to the lineup, the Fresh Foam More V4 contains a generous amount of Fresh Foam X midsole foam. It may look thick, but it feels light and is very responsive, for a comfortable and springy ride.
The platform is wider than with previous iterations, giving a balanced feel and evenly dispersing the force of impact.
We also love the rocker sole.
Updated for this edition and the largest in the Fresh Foam range, it helps you maintain forward momentum and effortlessly move through each stride.
#4. HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 8
– Balanced cushioning, very soft upper, and a large choice of colors
– Best shoes for running on concrete if you have high arches
Shoes in the Clifton series are well-known for their comfortable cushioning and this latest addition is no exception!
Featuring a full-length EVA midsole, the Clifton 8 efficiently protects your feet from hard, concrete surfaces.
At the same time, it has a responsive feel, with a rockered sole that helps you roll smoothly from one step to the next.
You get a real sensation of sinking into this shoe when you wear it. This is thanks to Hoka’s Active Foot Frame technology which is designed to cradle your foot deeper in the midsole and secure your heel in place.
The upper is made from a thin mesh and has very few overlays, so it feels extremely soft and is very breathable.
There’s also some flexibility at the forefoot, so it doesn’t feel restrictive across your toes.
This is a comfortable shoe even if you have a wider foot and there’s enough volume to accommodate high arches.
#5. Brooks Glycerin 20 Neutral
– 10 mm heel drop to cushion your landings, nitrogen-infused DNA LOFT v3 midsole, and a sturdy heel cup
– A great shoe for daily training
The Glycerin 20 ticks all the boxes when it comes to the best shoes for running on concrete.
It features DNA LOFT V3 in the midsole – the brand’s plushest foam which uses microscopic pockets of air to absorb the shock from the hard ground with every stride.
As a result, they feel well-cushioned and bouncy, providing just the right level of comfort and responsiveness.
Everything feels soft and a pleasure to wear, from the padded tongue and ankle collar to the newly improved sock liner.
We also like the flexible seamless upper and rounded toe shape, which can easily accommodate wider feet and has no heavy overlays.
Offering great traction, the outsole also features Brooks’ Ideal Pressure Zones which evenly disperse impact forces after landing.
Looking for a similar shoe with stability features? Then check out the Brooks Glycerin GTS 20 instead.
#6. Saucony Triumph 20
– PWRRUN+ foam cushioning, 10 mm heel-to-toe drop, and a balanced geometry
– Ideal for long, slower-paced runs
Saucony has a decades-old reputation for making high-quality running shoes, and the Triumph 20 may be one of its most comfortable yet!
Its upper has been newly upgraded for a pressure-free locked down feel, but the real star of this shoe is the new PWRRUN PLUS foam cushioning.
Light, flexible, and springy, it has a pillowy feel that effortlessly absorbs impact from concrete surfaces.
The heel-to-toe drop is the highest in the Triumph line-up, reducing stress on your calves and Achilles tendon.
You’ll also notice the new rocker-style geometry underfoot which aids with transitions from heel to forefoot.
The only thing we didn’t love about these shoes were the laces, which are a little too thick and definitely on the short side.
#7. HOKA ONE ONE Bondi 8
– Lightweight, with maximum cushioning and resilient foam
– Our all-round best shoes for running on concrete
The Bondi is Hoka’s softest shoe, and it’s a dream to run in!
It uses ultralight EVA foam technology from heel to toe, which is softer than ever but still provides plenty of bounce.
The sole features Hoka’s early-stage meta-rocker and now has an extended heel.
The rocker geometry makes it easy to transition from heel to toe whilst the reshaped heel absorbs shock better than ever before.
And whilst the stack height might be on the high side, the extended heel and wide base help keep you stable.
The fit is comfortable and secure, with a breathable and flexible mesh upper, a nicely padded tongue, and a soft memory foam collar that cradles your ankle.
There’s also plenty of wiggle room in the toe box.
This is not the fastest shoe around but for sheer comfort when running on concrete, it’s very hard to beat!
The Best Shoes for Running on Concrete: Key Takeaways
If you often run on concrete, then it is essential your shoes cushion you from the stress of pounding on a hard surface whilst responding to impact and adding a spring to your step.
We hope you’ve found this guide useful and that it’s helped you discover the perfect footwear for your city runs.
Do You Need to Improve Your Mobility?
Maintaining a good range of motion in your joints helps you run without stiffness and improves your running stride. That means it’s important to add regular mobility work to your training schedule.
Learn more and discover 11 exercises to improve your performance in our article: Mobility for Runners