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Should I Wear Cross-Trainers or Running Shoes

When starting out with exercise, one of the first things many people do is buy nice new exercise clothing to feel good while working out, and then dig out a pair of old cross-trainers that have been gathering dust at the back of the wardrobe and then set off down the gym or to jog around the park. Big mistake!

Your feet are a key part of your exercise planning and need to be supported, cushioned and looked after by the right shoe for the right type of activity, and so as much thought needs to go into your footwear as your athletic clothing.

After all, if you hurt your feet or twist an ankle from wearing the wrong shoes, you won’t be able to do any kind of exercise at all so all your other new fancy exercise kit will become useless!

The main question most people ask when starting out is what’s the difference between my cross-trainers and running shoes? Why can’t I wear my cross-trainers to go running? So let’s review the different shoe types here.

Which Shoe for Which Exercise?

Cross-training shoes are really comfortable to wear and they will provide you with support to a whole variety of foot movements, such as changing direction and jumping. They are very useful and you can wear them for your Gym classes, Weightlifting, Boot camp classes, Aerobics, Strength training, Yoga, Kickboxing, Dancing, Basketball and the list goes on.

On the other hand, running shoes won’t offer this much flexibility. They are lightweight and offer cushioning and support to avoid injury to your ankles, feet and knee. You will be able to wear these for running in the park, running on a treadmill, jogging on grass, track running, running long distance, walking regularly and pavement jogging.

Good-Fitting Shoes

When you are undertaking any kind of exercise your feet will get hot and swell up and also move a lot more, so the fit of your exercise shoe is really important to avoid blisters and other injuries.

You should not buy cross-training or running shoes that are too small for you– they can make you bruising and cause problems with your toenails. Actually, it’s better to buy half a size bigger than the normal size because your feet will start to swell due to the warmth produced.

If you are considering running a lot, it’s very crucial to choose shoes that match the shape of your foot. Make sure they are perfect for whatever your purpose is. Some roll their feet in a specific way while others have flat feet.

You should find the correct fit for your foot and style to prevent any kind of injury. It’s generally best with running shoes to seek advice from an expert and have them fitted properly, particularly if you are going to be wearing them a lot and running long distances.

What Difference Does it Make to My Performance?

If you choose the wrong kind of shoe, it can actually cause problems for your exercise and performance. For example, if you try to wear a running shoe while at an aerobics class or down at the gym, you will find that you won’t get the flexibility, traction and grip you need, and might not be able to carry out the full range of movement needed.

If you wear a cross-trainer shoe to go running, you are at risk of twisting your ankle which will clearly hamper future performance, but also, with the shoe being heavier and unsupportive you will find it harder to keep up your usual pace and mileage level as it will feel like a lot harder work.

How Can You Tell if You Have a Cross-Training Shoe or A Running Shoe?

If your exercise shoes have been gathering dust at the back of the wardrobe, you might not even remember what kind of shoe it actually is, particularly if you were used to going running or training in the past. So how can you tell the difference between them?

Cross-Training Shoes

  • More flexible soles
  • Designed to offer a range of movement
  • Very wide sole, going beyond the width of the shoe itself
  • Heavier shoe
  • Much flatter design of shoe – heel height to toe height is much lower
  • No cushioning or support provided
  • Non-smooth soles to provide greater traction

Running Shoes

  • Designed for heel-to-toe movement
  • Narrow shoes generally
  • Very lightweight
  • Higher heel to toe height
  • Much more cushioned and padded inside
  • Smooth treads under the shoe

Exercising: Things to Consider

Cross-training shoes and running shoes both offer very different types of support to your feet so it’s very important to choose them appropriately. Besides, it is crucial to know the difference between these two types to make sure that you don’t hurt yourself while exercising.

If you are exercising in a way that needs lots of lateral movements, you need a more bendable shoe and in this case, cross-training shoe is just perfect for you. For example, if you are jumping, twisting or turning around fast, then you really need a flexible shoe with grip and traction, otherwise you would risk spraining your ankles so go for a cross-trainer shoe.

If your exercise involves high impact, such as, dance or aerobics, you must choose a cross-training shoe that will support your feet properly when you jump and land. If you wear running shoes for this kind of high impact activity you are risking both knee and ankle injuries.

If you are a regular runner and go running without wearing the proper shoes, you can end up injuring your feet. Also, this can cause injuries like tendonitis, stress fractures and hurt your hip and knee joints.


To summarize the difference, cross-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 for running. Whatever exercise you perform, your feet and your joints will be put under significant pressure, so it’s really important to choose the suitable shoes to keep them in good shape and to avoid feet injury.


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