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Can You Use Road Running Shoes on A Treadmill?

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Most people know that it’s important to have the right shoes for the activity they are participating in. But there are so many types of running shoes. Road shoes, trail shoes, speed shoes, shoes for supination, shoes for pronation; where does it end? Can use road running shoes on treadmill?

Road running shoes are great for running on a treadmill. Lightweight shoes with a harder outsole and a lower profile will give you the maximum benefit when running on a treadmill instead of outdoors. Grip is less important on a treadmill since it is straight and flat.

We will cover the whether you can use road shoes on a treadmill, what to look for in a good treadmill shoe, and differences between running on a treadmill and outside.

Can You Use Road Running Shoes on Treadmill?

While treadmill shoes and road shoes are very similar, and honestly can be used interchangeably for the most part, there are a few things to keep an eye out for when picking a pair of running shoes for treadmill work.

The surface your foot is striking when running on each is very different. This will create issues if you don’t plan. One thing to note is that when you switch back and forth between the treadmill and the street, especially in the same shoe, you may slightly modify your gate for each mode which has been known to lead to a bit of ankle pain. Something to consider when looking at shoes for both scenarios.

Things to Consider in A Treadmill Shoe

  • Tread on the shoes
  • Amount of cushion
  • Type of Treadmill
  • Amount of stack
  • Drop
  • Support
  • Weight

Note: These differences aren’t major, and if you’re just a casual runner looking to work on the treadmill a bit in the colder months, you can probably just wear whatever shoes you have. If you want to maximize your potential and are very serious about running, keep reading.

Tread on the Shoes

Treadmills have a belt designed to grab the shoe and keep you moving in the right direction. While this is great, it can be a bit “much” if your running shoe also has an extra grippy sole. The two together can make it feel like a bit of a drag.

Tip: If multiple pairs of shoes are available, pick the shoe with less grip on the bottom.

The Pegasus 38 (men’s and women’s) is a great shoe for this.

Amount of Cushion

Another thing to be wary of is the amount of cushion. Treadmills are already cushioned to some degree and offer shock absorption. It isn’t recommended to add more cushioning from the shoe side.

Shoes like the HOKA ONE ONE Men’s Bondi 7, which bills itself as featuring “…the most cushioned ride among HOKA’s road running line-up” are great but not the right pick for treadmill running.

My pick for great, low cushion running shoes:

Altra Escalante 2.5 (men’s and women’s) – this is a great, light shoe with zero drop and 24mm stack height.

Type of Treadmill Belt

Another consideration is the type of belt on the treadmill. Treadmills can have a few different types of belts, generally identified as 1-ply, 2-play, or 3-ply. The 3-ply belts have a layer of foam between the two belts that acts as an additional cushion, or springboard, for the belt.

When running on this style of treadmill, it’s especially important to make sure you don’t have an extra cushioned running shoe. Too much cushioning can be uncomfortable, unstable, and even cause you to change your gait and run in a way that can be detrimental to various parts of your body like your knees.

My pick for a good type of treadmill shoe is a speed shoe. A speed shoe has a low heel gradient – the difference in height between the heel and forefront of the shoe.

My picks for top speed shoes for treadmill use are:

Saucony Kinvara 12 (men’s and women’s) – this bad boy is a great shoe for the value. Coming in at under $100, it checks all the boxes for a great treadmill shoe.

Stack Height

Stack height refers to the amount of material between your foot and the ground. While there is no hard and fast rule, a shoe with a high stack height will most likely have more cushioning and be slightly less stable on a treadmill.

This is a generalization but rings true for most shoes. A good option here would be a medium stack height shoe; not a barefoot shoe but not an overly cushioned shoe.

This type of shoe will give you the most versatility both on and off the treadmill.

My pick: Asics Dynablast (men’s and women’s) – The Dynablast is a versatile shoe that is good for on-road and treadmill applications. Not too much cushion, but enough to be comfortable, this shoe excels in many areas.

Are Road Running Shoes Good for Treadmills?

a pair of running shoes

All running shoes that work on a treadmill can also work on the road. The same can be said, but it’s a question of preference and a little bit of common sense. Some people like an extra cushioned shoe and some like a more minimalist approach.

Both options are fine, as long as it works for you.

Is There Any Difference Between Running on A Treadmill and Running Outside?

The differences between running on a treadmill and the road outside, outside of the elements and terrain, are mainly from a cushioning and stability standpoint within the shoes themselves.

Other minor differences exist, but the safety concerns from those two are paramount in choosing the perfect shoe for running indoors. Running down the hard, paved road is different than on a softer and rapidly moving belt flying under your feet.

After all, you’d hate to be “that guy” that fell off the treadmill. In fact, one of the disadvantages of running on a treadmill is the chance you bite it.

The Home Stretch

To wrap it up, here are my basic observations packaged nicely and succinctly in a list.

  1. If you have a pair of shoes, try them out on the treadmill first. If they work, great. If not, move on to point #2.
  2. Aim for a shoe that has a mid-level stack height for optimal stability and comfort.
  3. Don’t pick a shoe that is overly cushioned. Instead, find a shoe with adequate cushioning but nothing crazy – especially if you have a thick belt on the treadmill.
  4. A speed shoe is a good option.
  5. Bonus option: Try barefoot or just in socks? Many people swear by this as it gives you a bit of a boost in output, relieves stress, and strengthens ankle and foot muscles better due to needing them to increase stability.


There are several ways to take your training indoors instead of the slow grind down the old country road. However, when you do take this step, it’s important to understand if you can use road running shoes on the treadmill.

We’ve laid out some recommendations in this article that I think will help with that. Now get out and run!

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About the author

Jasper loves to write about fitness, running, and anything else that gets him moving outdoors. He's an avid hiker, backpacker, and climber who loves to stay fit so he can make sure he's healthy enough to enjoy his favorite hobbies. He also spends time writing about his true passions in life.