The Best Running Shoes For Treadmill

Running shoes for a treadmill should be comfortable with adequate cushioning for your gait.

The treadmill introduces unnatural elements to running. You never change direction, you never adjust for a puddle or have to stop for an over enthusiastic dog jumping at you. Its consistent and repetitive in the extreme (some say boring).

For that reason treadmills make running that is already a repetitive action, more repetitive. This puts an extra strain on the feet, legs and posterior chain. That being the case you should be looking for the best running shoes for treadmill running.

Buyers Guide For Treadmill Running Shoes

Not many runners enjoy running on a treadmill. But there may be circumstances when its your only option. For example

  • Safety at night – I run with a head torch along a busy road when its dark. I feel pretty safe but that’s an ideal road for me to be running along. However I would never suggest to a female friend to run along the same road at night.
  • Childcare – This to my mind is the best excuse for not getting out the door for a run. With a treadmill you can have your run and keep an eye on the children at the same time.
  • Away on business – You might not have the time or energy to find a route to run in an unfamiliar city. Hitting the treadmill in the hotel gym is a good option in that case.
  • Hot, Cold and Pollution – When you cant or shouldn’t run outside.

This list is endless so I’m going to stop there.

Treadmill Running Shoe Characteristics

A shoe that is comfortable with the correct degree of cushioning is the ultimate aim here. It also needs to fit well, be stable and grip the smooth surface of the treadmill.

If you’re a regular gym goer and you use the treadmill to warm up for 5 or 10 minutes. Don’t buy any new shoes. Do your 5 minutes and move onto the weights.

If you find yourself in a position where you need to use the treadmill as a core part of your run training then consider these points before buying a pair of running shoes for the treadmill.

  • Pronation – If you under or over pronate the problems you may have had on the road will be present on the treadmill. Because of the hyper repetitive nature of treadmill running they may in fact be worse. Use the knowledge and experience you’ve had when choosing road shoes and feed that into this selection process.
  • Cushioning – Treadmills are much bouncier than concrete. But this doesn’t mean you should switch to a minimalist or barefoot shoe overnight. If you land on your heel make sure the shoes you choose have plenty of cushioning in the heel counter. If you are a forefoot lander, make sure these plenty of foam in the midsole.
  • Breathable – Being inside means no wind blowing coolness into your feet. You’ll be grateful for a pair of shoes with good ventilation.  
  • Light weight – People tend to run slightly faster on a treadmill when its in a 0% incline. A pair of lightweight running shoes will help you skip over the surface as it speeds away underneath you.
  • Motion Control – If you plan on doing a long run on a treadmill your feet will get tired as they do on the road. With the added issues around the hyper repetitive nature treadmill running. A good pair of stability shoes will help your feet not as tired as quickly and help prevent an injury.
  • Durability – Unless you plan on using the same shoes on the road. Your treadmill running shoes should last longer than the shoes you use on the road. That said its worth investing in a good pair from a quality manufacture to ensure they don’t fall apart after the first few miles.
  • Outsole – It’s a bit like a Formula 1 car tire on a smooth race track. They have slicks for maximum contact with the surface of the track. The surface of the treadmill is smoother than any concrete or tarmac you’ll ever run on. Trail shoes would not be an ideal option. But the outsole of any road shoe should give you enough grip for the treadmill.

How To Start Running On a Treadmill

If you are new to running, please buy some shoes and run outside in the fresh air. You’ll find a wonderful supportive community of runners everywhere in the world. You wont find them running on a treadmill.

However if you do find yourself having to run on a treadmill consider these steps.

  • Buy a pair of running shoes that are appropriate for the treadmill.
  • Start by walking on the treadmill and break into a little jog.
  • When you’ve got the hang of that set yourself a time or distance goal that is easily obtainable.
  • Build up the time or distance slowly.

Monitor for odd little pains that remain long after you’ve stopped running. For a how to guide of treadmill running take a look here.

Conclusion: Best Running Shoes For Treadmill

We sometimes find ourselves in a position where the treadmill is the only option. If that’s for the ad-hoc run while you’re working away or for the long haul. You’ll need to adjust your thinking (and possibly running) to avoid injury while trying to progress.

If in a gym some Bluetooth head phones connected to a smart phone can be used to listen to music, books and podcasts or even catch up on Netflix.

Best Running Shoes For Treadmill

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I start running on a treadmill if I’ve never run before?

Yes. It would be a good option if you’ve never run outside and feel a little intimidated by the prospect.

Can I run on a treadmill in zero drop gym shoes?

Yes. If you are using the treadmill to warm up. Go slow and stop if you feel any pain.

Can I take my road shoes on the treadmill?

Yes. Make sure they are clean enough. Any loose dirt may start flying around and you don’t want to be the guy in the gym.

Can I run on a treadmill in my trail shoes?

Not a very good idea. The grip on a trail shoe is great for off road fun. But terrible on an ultra-smooth belt.

How often should I get new running shoes for the treadmill?

Check your shoes after 400 miles. If they are looking worn or torn toss them and get some shiny new ones.

Can I run in minimalist shoes on a treadmill?

Yes. Only recommended if you’ve been running in minimalist shoes already. If you are new to running minimalist running shoes are likely to slow your progress.

Can I run with bare feet on a treadmill?

You could but most gyms wont allow it on hygiene grounds.

Is it better to run or jog on a treadmill?

Its difficult to define the difference on a treadmill. Most people would say that jogging takes place at a slow pace than running.



Slightly obsessed middle aged runner.