Running Shoes Vs. Training Shoes: What’s the Difference?

You’re faced with an overwhelming aisle of athletic shoes. A score of styles, a myriad of makes, a cornucopia of colors—how are you supposed to choose? These special soles will cushion and protect your feet while you exercise, so it’s important to pick the right pair. One way to try and select the correct shoes is to look at the label, but these can be difficult to decipher. A common question that we come across is “what type of shoes should I purchase?” Austin foot doctor, Jeffery LaMour, is here to help our patients settle on the right foot-gear. In the following blog, we’ll explain the difference between running shoes and training shoes so you can decide which you want.

All Shoes Are Not Created Equal

To you, all sneakers might seem the same. However, they are as varied, as any other style of shoe. In her WebMD article, “5 Biggest Mistakes When Choosing Workout Shoes,” Gina Shaw cites “Tracie Rogers, PhD, a consultant for the American Council on Exercise,” who argues: “The biggest mistake people make when they start running, jogging, or some other exercise program is just reaching into the closet and pulling out an old pair of sneakers.” Of course, worn shoes aren’t the best choice in part because they might be broken down, but they’re also not an optimal option because “you need to choose the right type of shoe for the kind of workout you’ll be doing.”  Different makes of shoes suit different types of activities. Just like you wouldn’t wear a ballroom dress to an aerobics class, you shouldn’t try to wear one type of shoes for another kind of sport.

The Basic Difference

On the surface, training and running don’t seem all that dissimilar, so what’s the big deal about these shoes? Professor’s House piece on this subject reads: “If you have ever tried on a running shoe and a cross trainer you would have noticed some definite differences. For starters, runners are very flexible and they seem as if they are tight around your toes.” This design provides necessary coverage and keeps the shoe on but doesn’t overburden your foot as it repeatedly hits the ground. In contrast, “cross trainers are more firm which makes them more supportive with a wider base…[and they are] not as flexible as running shoes.” Cross trainers are bigger shoes with a chunkier base, created to pad your foot and protect it from all angles as you perform a variety of movements.

What Kind Should You Buy?

Now that you understand the disparities between cross trainers and running shoes, which type should you pluck from that immense athletic shoe aisle? Honestly, you should probably have a pair of each. Despite their name, running shoes are useful for more than just zipping around. Real Simple advises that they’re great “if you mostly jog or walk, since they’re engineered for heel-to-toe motion…cater to a wider range of foot types, and are built to last longer.”

Alternatively, “if your routine includes an activity like aerobics, weight training, or kickboxing (basically any exercise on a hard surface that involves side-to-side movement)” we’d make the case for cross trainers. Of course, there are exceptions to this. If you have particularly narrow feet, for example, cross trainers might just be too wide and bulky. Patients who frequently play a specific, foot intensive sport like soccer, tennis, or basketball should probably purchase shoes tailored to their specific activity.

No matter which type(s) you end up going home with, you should always try on a wide assortment of options to see what feels best, and mimic some of the motions you plan to make when you try them on. Shaw even recommends getting professional help: “go to an athletic shoe specialty store to get an expert insight on the right shoe and the best fit.”

If you need additional support, Dr. LaMour can fit you for orthotics. These comfortable, custom inserts can make exercising easier and more comfortable, plus they help treat a variety of podiatric conditions. We can also help you handle other issues related to exercise, such as calluses and sports injuries.

Your Austin Foot Doctor Is Here

If you have any other questions about your foot and ankle health as it relates to exercise or any other topic, Dr. LaMour and our team would be delighted to hear from you. Contact us today to learn more and schedule an appointment.

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