Whether your run outdoors or indoors, you have to wear the right gear. Just as you would dress for the weather if you're hitting the trail or the pavement, you also have to dress the part if you've got a date with the treadmill.
Running on a treadmill puts strain on your body, especially your joints, muscles and bones, and it also wears more heavily on the heels of your shoes, with the balls of your feet absorbing a much greater impact that your toes.
With this in mind, it’s extremely important to pick the right shoes so you can avoid not only discomfort, but also injury. Let's take a look at the main aspects to consider when shopping for the best shoes for running on a treadmill.
How to Find the Best Trainers for Treadmills
Treadmill training isn't ideal (something we'll discuss more later), but sometimes it's a necessary evil based on the weather and other factors out of your control. Since the surface and experience is different than running on the road or the track, there are different considerations when it comes to choosing your footwear.
There are several factors to consider when picking out your sneakers. This includes the following:
First and foremost, the shoes need to be comfortable. That means no pinching, no slipping and no sliding. It doesn't matter if they fulfill all of your other requirements; you simply cannot work out in shoes that are uncomfortable.
To gauge comfort, you're going to want to try both shoes on, lace them up, and walk around a bit (or even jog) to decide whether or not they really are comfortable.
You definitely want to find a flexible shoe, as this is important for warding off shin splints. The most important aspects in terms of flexibility are that the shoe can twist and that it bends at the ball of the foot, as opposed to in the arch, according to Treadmill Reviews.
As we mentioned above, when you run on a treadmill, the balls of your feet get the brunt of the movement, absorbing more of an impact than your toes. As a result, you need a shoe with greater cushioning in the heel to effectively soften that impact. This means a minimalist shoe might not be the best fit for a treadmill because you're going to be striking the same part of your foot and using the same muscle combinations over and over again.
Try to find a shoe that's lightweight. This may pose a bit of a challenge, since a very lightweight shoe may lack sufficient cushioning, while too much cushioning is going to weigh the shoe down. Try to find a happy medium.
Specific characteristics of your own feet
Do you have wide or narrow feet? Are you a neutral runner, an overpronator or an underpronator? Do you have flat, low, medium or high arches? All of these characteristics should be taken into consideration when picking out shoes for running on a treadmill (or any other activity for that matter).
A great way to find out what kind of feet you have is to visit a shoe store, where the staff should be able to give you an evaluation and also recommend some great options.
This video also has some great tips for picking out the right shoes for your treadmill workouts.
Do I Need Running Shoes For The Treadmill?
If you're into barefoot running, you might be wondering - do I even have to have shoes to run on a treadmill.
The answer is that you don't, but you probably should.
RunBare has a great breakdown on this topic, pointing out that it's more difficult to keep perfect running form on a treadmill because you've got limited space compared to running free on the road or on a trail.
Another challenge is that treadmills are perfectly flat, which means you're using the exact same muscles over and over again - whereas on the ground the surface beneath you is always changing, at least slightly, so your muscle groups can share the load a little bit more.
Click here if you want to read more about going shoeless on the treadmill.
If barefoot isn't your thing... you may just be wondering if you can get away with wearing something other than your best running shoes on a treadmill.
Treadmills do have a softer surface than running on pavement, so going with a lighter shoe with slightly less cushion is ok.
That said, most people opt to go with their same outdoor running shoe - particularly if you are using to shoes with certain motion control features that may give you support you need.
Are Trail Running Shoes Good For Treadmills?
Trail running shoes are quite different than the road runners you may be more familiar with.
As the name suggests, trail running shoes are designed to help you on more rugged, uneven terrains which means you typically find a few different features like:
- Thicker soles with a deeper traction pattern designed to give you better footing on rocks/gravel, mud, sticks, and uneven surfaces
- Sturdier build to help you keep from rolling an ankle on the more unpredictable trail surfaces
- Slightly heavier because of the added features mentioned above.
So should you wear your trail running shoes on a treadmill?
Surfaces don't get much smoother than a treadmill, so it's really a waste to wear your trail shoes when running on one.
It's kind of like buying a nice set of snow tires when you live in San Diego.
Your care will still drive, but it's not ideal and just not necessary.
You'd be better off with a nice pair of road running shoes that are designed for the smooth surfaces of pavement and treadmills.
Is Running on a Treadmill Good For You?
Most running coaches and enthusiasts will agree that running outside when you can is a better option than running on the treadmill.
However, that isn't to say that running on a treadmill is bad for your body.
When it's snowing outside or the conditions aren't great for hitting the road, doing 30 minutes on a treadmill is certainly better than sitting on the couch.
Dr. Jamey Schrier says treadmills are primarily good for 3 things:
1. Losing Weight
There are a number of different routines and programs you can do on a treadmill if your primary goal is to shed pounds.
The general consensus is that you'll have maximum results by keeping things fresh with interval training.
So instead of going 3 days a week for 30 minutes at the same speed, do one day where you sprint for a shorter time, another day with a slower pace and longer time, and then your 'normal' pace for 30 minutes. You can also do interval training by doing a session where you walk and run, taking turns mixing up your pace.
Keeping your body off-balance will help you avoid a rut and keep you cutting those pounds with your exercise routine.
2. Sport-Specific Training
Running on a steep incline is an excellent way to build leg strength. Pulling a quote from The Nest: "An article published by FreeMotion Fitness in 2008 reported that when you increase the incline of a treadmill above 15 percent, about 75 percent -- or more -- of your leg muscle tissue is activated. At a zero percent incline, just 20 percent of this muscle tissue is activated."
No need to list the sports where increased leg strength would help, it's basically all of them!
3. Improve Cardiovascular System
Getting your body up to your target heart rate is a great idea to keep your ticker in top shape. According to The Cleveland Clinic, you can figure out your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220.
So if you're 30, the max heart rate would be 220 - 30 = 190.
Then your target heart rate is anywhere from 60% - 80% of the max - so when you're on the treadmill, shoot for about 10 minutes or more at your target heart rate.
Your heart will thank you.
Quick Look: Best Treadmill Running Shoes for Men
We take an up-close look at the following models:
- Nike Flex Experience Run 3
- ASICS GEL-Fortitude 7
- Adidas Performance Solar RNR
Nike Flex Experience Run 3 Running Shoe
This is a great option for your treadmill workouts because it's a very lightweight, flexible running shoe that bends with the motion of your feet. It's also durable shoe, and it's got sufficient soft cushioning to protect your heels. This means you'll be able to land on a consistent surface over and over again without feeling the pain.
- Durable foam in the midsole/outsole
- Waffle pistons in the outsole help with responsiveness and impact absorption
- Hexagonal grooves allow for natural stride
- Minimalist mesh upper for a lightweight design
- Molded sockliner provides added support and comfort
- Phylon midsole with pressure mapping
- Breathable fabric
- Supportive fit
What People Say
One female runner on DSW.com said, "The shoes are super cute and SO comfortable. Wore them to the gym yesterday and was really happy with how they fit. I usually always wear a 9.5 and that size fit me great. Love them!"
ASICS GEL-Fortitude 7 Running Shoe
This is a great shoe for over pronators, heavier runners and people who wear orthotics. It's a spacious shoe that provides excellent support, as well as maximum stability. It's got a boatload of technologies which make this model a fantastic choice, including the gait efficiency you gain with their midsole technology.
- Design enhances natural gait, from heel strike to toe-off
- Midsole material decreases breakdown and improves bounce back
- Special rubber compound improves durability and cushioning
- Gel cushioning systems reduces shock and allows for better movement
- Enhanced gait efficiency thanks to midsole technology
- Significant underfoot comfort
- Has a stable platform to support heavier runners
- Outsold reduces over pronation on even terrain
What People Say
One Zappos.com reviewer stated "I've ran in these shoes once so far and walked in them a little bit. They are so comfortable and have tons of padding. They are very squishy. I feel like I'm walking on clouds in them. They felt true to size. I usually order 1/2 size larger in running shoes so I ordered an 8 which I'm normally a 7.5. Worked out perfectly."
Adidas Performance Solar RNR Running Shoe
As Adidas says, "These shoes are built to log miles." Weighing just 9.5 ounces, don't let their super cool iridescent appearance fool you: these durable, stable kicks are an excellent option for your treadmill workouts.
Despite their extreme light weight, these shoes actually perform very well and are durable while still giving you a super breathable and responsive feel when your foot hits the ground.
- Mesh upper ensures breathability
- Extra support from heel overlay and molded synthetic midfoot
- Extremely durable thanks to the ADIWEAR outsole
- Responsive ground feel
- Stability around the heel
- Special cushioning technology provides you with extra energy
- Extremely comfortable
Quick Look: Best Treadmill Running Shoes for Women
We're going to give you the low-down on the following models:
- Adidas Performance Galaxy Elite W
- Nike Flex 2015 Rn
- Nike Air Zoom Structure 18
Adidas Performance Galaxy Elite W Running Shoe
This is an excellent choice of shoe for your treadmill workouts. The extra cushioning means that they are extremely comfortable, they keep cool when you're working out, and they offer great stability. What's more, they're a top pick among many runners because of how light and comfortable they are. You just might forget you're wearing these at all.
- Great rebound and cushioning, due to the ADIPRENE+ midsole
- Fit foam comfort cushioning insole
- Supportive overlays at toe and heel
- Designed with speed and comfort in mind
- Welded seams offer next-to-skin comfort
- Excellent breathability and quick-drying fabric
- Is part of Adidas's lightweight running shoe line
- Extra support comes from medial TPU bar
- Highly durable
What People Say
Nike Flex 2016 Rn Running Shoe
Here's a great lightweight option with cushioning in all the right places. It has an adaptive and supportive fit and was designed with optimal comfort in mind. It's a top-performing stable trainer that's sure to see you through many miles on the treadmill. The inner mesh sleeve is a pretty slick innovation that gives you a little sense of compression.
- Breathable comfort thanks to lightweight mesh upper
- Inner mesh sleeve ensures comfort in the heel
- Webbing system midfoot helps create supportive, adaptive fit
- Articulated flex grooves allow for efficient range of motion
- Innovative Breathe Tech construction mixes mesh and foam
- Reduced bulk and natural feel thanks to 2-piece Phylite carrier
- Special rubber for traction and durability
What People Say
Nike Air Zoom Structure 18 Running Shoe
If you're looking for a stable, breathable shoe, then this is the model for you. Lightweight is an understatement—you'll feel like you're walking on air—and it's especially perfect for overpronaters. Hit the treadmill or the road with confidence. The impact shock conversion is pretty outstanding with this shoe - something you'd have to feel to believe.
- Extremely comfortable and lightweight
- Excellent arch support
- Carefully-placed bonded overlays provide additional support
- Deep anatomical flex grooves
- Shoe bends and flexes along with the foot
- Zoom Air Unit cushioning technology
- More efficient strides due to the dynamic support platform
- Impact shock converted into responsive energy return
- Arch is wrapped by a medial adaptive fit system
- Durable, thanks to the rubber waffle outsole with BRS 1000
What People Say
According to Running Shoe Guru, "...Then you complete the first kilometer – and you completely forget you are wearing shoes. They are heavier than many other shoes coming out now, they are narrower and more structured, yet they feel just right."
We hope you found the information on how to choose the best shoes for running on a treadmill to be helpful.
As you can see, there are many factors to consider, and it's important not to choose a shoe based solely on your budget or on aesthetics. You want to avoid injury and aim for safety in any athletic endeavor you take on.
Now you're prepared to go out there and pick up some treadmill trainers and get running! Good luck!