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Essential Quick Guide to Running Shoes Vs. Trainers

With so many options for getting fit, from a monthly gym membership to a daily jog around your local park, there is a lot to think about but it’s vital that you don’t neglect your feet. One of the most common questions is “do I need to wear running shoes or training shoes”, so this essential guide looks at the benefits and features of both types and explains when to choose which, for the best foot support.

The Key Differences

  • Sole flexibility – The soles on a training shoe are more flexible than that of a running shoe. This is because training shoes are designed to provide a broader range of movement, including side-to-side movement. Running shoes are designed for heel-to-toe movement.
  • Sole Width – The flexibility issue means that, in general, the sole of a cross-trainer is very wide and often goes behind the width of the shoe itself. This is a good way to tell the difference.
  • The Weight of The Shoes – In general, running shoes are much lighter than trainers, which makes it easier for you to run. For this reason, you should also go for running shoes if you are walking regularly as well.
  • The Flatness of The Shoe – With trainers, the shoe is generally much flatter, or the distance from heel height to toe height is a lot less than with a running shoe. This is because a running shoe has more cushion and support included.
  • Impact Support – This is far greater in running shoes as they are designed to cushion and support against the impact of running whether outside or on a treadmill. Training shoes don’t provide this support, which increases the risk of injury.
  • Traction – Running shoes generally don’t need much traction so the treads are smooth, whereas trainers tend to be more traction focused with non-smooth soles.

When to Use a Running Shoe vs. Training Shoe?

The good thing about training shoes is that they are really flexible and can provide support to a whole variety of foot movement, including jumping and changing direction, which makes them very versatile. The type of exercise you would use training shoes for includes:

  • Gym classes – including high impact
  • Boot camp classes
  • Weightlifting
  • Strength training
  • Short bursts on a treadmill (less than 5k)
  • Aerobics
  • Kickboxing
  • Yoga
  • Basketball
  • Dancing

Running shoes, on the other hand, do not provide this level of flexibility, but what they do provide is a lot more cushioning and support to prevent injury to your feet and also to your knee and back joints from impact. It doesn’t matter if you are running on grass tracks or on the pavements – you would wear these for:

  • Running on a treadmill more than 5k
  • Running outside
  • Jogging
  • Walking regularly
  • Running long distance

How to Get the Right Fit for Your Shoe?

As well as looking at what the different types of shoes there are, you need to make sure you choose ones that fit properly. You might think this goes without saying, but if you are running or doing other active exercise, your feet are moving a lot more than you are used to, so the fit is vitally important.

Do not choose running or training shoes which are too small – they can cause bruising and problems with toe nails. It’s actually better to choose half a size bigger than normal as your feet will swell due to the heat generated.

If you are running, it is particularly important to find shoes that match the shape of your foot and the way you run as well. Some people roll their feet in a particular direction while others have flat feet – you need to choose the right fit for your style and foot to avoid injury.

Why is it Important to Choose the Right Shoe?

Wearing the wrong kind of shoe for your exercise type can cause all kinds of problems for you. You might end up with blisters, sore feet, and general aches and pains through lack of support.

Wearing the wrong kind of shoe can hamper or enhance your performance. If you wear a running shoe incorrectly, you won’t get the flexibility, traction and grip you would normally get with a trainer and may not be able to carry out the full range of movement you require.

If you wear a trainer to run, your shoe will be too heavy and not provide the support your feet need, so you will find it harder to keep up your usual pace and mileage level as it will feel like a lot harder work.

Preventing Injury While Exercising

It is really important to understand the difference between the two types of shoes to ensure that you don’t hurt yourself while working out. Running shoes and training shoes both provide very different kinds of support to your feet, so it is really important to choose correctly.

Lateral Movement

If you are working out in a way that requires a lot of lateral movements, you need a more flexible shoe, so a training shoe is the one to go for. If you were to wear a running shoe for this, you would be at the risk of spraining your ankles.

High Impact Workouts

If your workouts involve high impact through jumping, for example aerobics or dance, then you need a training shoe to support your ankle when landing. If you wear running shoes you put yourself at risk of ankle and knee injuries.

Permanent Conditions

If you run in shoes which don’t support your feet and cushion them, you can end up permanently damaging your feet, or causing injuries such as stress fractures, tendonitis and hurting your knee and hip joints.

Whatever exercise you undertake, your feet and subsequently your joints will be put under considerable pressure so it’s important to select the correct shoe to keep them supported and in a good shape to prevent injury. Training shoes are good for most types of exercise, apart from jogging and running, while running shoes are specialist support shoes and should only be used specifically for running.


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