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What are the perfect shoes for treadmill running?

The ideal treadmill shoe is comfortable, breathable and grippy

treadmill running

Can you wear your carbon-plated, extra-cushioned shoes on the treadmill? Or better yet, should you? Ask any group of runners about their footwear and almost everyone will have a strong opinion to share. There’s such a wide variety of shoes to match the differing running styles, usage, and feet out there that it can be challenging enough to figure out what to wear in outdoor terrain. Here are a few basic tips when choosing shoes to log those treadmill workouts in.

Treadmills
Photo: Unsplash/Birk Enwald

Look for lightweight, breathable material

There isn’t a lot of scientific data available on what shoes seem to be the best fit for a treadmill, and experts recommend going with something that feels comfortable and supportive, but is lightweight and made of breathable material. The gym and treadmill can be a sweaty place, and you want to keep your footwear clean, dry, and stink-free.

Less cushioning is just fine

For many runners, it’s perfectly fine to run in shoes with less cushioning when you’re on the treadmill. The treadmill is already a slightly cushioned surface. You’ll still wear out a shoe as you log mileage in it, even on the treadmill, but the overall experience won’t be as hard on your feet.  A treadmill-friendly running shoe still needs to be firm, stable, and grip well. A carbon-plated shoe is definitely not the ideal shoe for a treadmill–they may deserve a place in your shoe rotation, but not at the gym.

 

Don’t run barefoot, or in trail shoes (but make sure the shoes feel good)

Please don’t run barefoot on the treadmill. Good sense prevails here, even if it seems like a tempting place to start your barefoot running career. The same goes for heavier trail shoes–leave them at home.

Running in cleats would also be a poor choice

The shoe you take to the treadmill should be similar to a shoe you’d run on the open road in. If possible, find a store that specializes in running and ask for some treadmill-friendly options. You want the same comfort on your treadmill runs as you do on any other surface, so spend the time necessary to find a shoe that will feel great and help you keep your feet and legs healthy.