Whether you’re an avid runner or just like to zone out on the treadmill while getting some movement in, the right pair of running shoes can really make or break your workout. “You want to make sure that the running shoes you select offer the correct amount of support, and also that they provide more shock absorption,” says podiatrist Nelya Lobkova, DPM. “Essentially, the treadmill is a high-impact surface, which means that you need shoes that will be able to reduce the heavy impact from running on it, which will help prevent injuries.”
The best shoes for running on the treadmill, at a glance:
- Best overall: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22, $108
- Most lightweight: HOKA Women's Rincon 3, $125
- Best for injuries: Saucony Kinvara 13, $90
- Most stylish: Lululemon Blissfeel Women’s Running Shoe, $148
- Best for flat feet: Asics Women's GEL-Kayano 27, $160
- Best for high arches: Brooks Women's Ghost 14, $110
Why do you need different shoes for the treadmill versus the outdoors?
According to Barry’s Bootcamp instructor Alycia Stevenin, you’ll definitely need different shoes for the treadmill as opposed to running outside, because treadmills have more padding than concrete does. “In terms of support, treadmills provide more cushioning, so you can opt for a lightweight pair of sneakers. If you’re running outside, your shoes should have more stability and support.”
It’s also worth noting that “in terms of mileage, you’re less likely to go on long treadmill runs than outdoor runs, which means you won’t have to replace your treadmill shoes as often.” The important thing is to track your mileage, according to Stevenin: Your outdoor shoes should be replaced every 300 miles.
What you should look for when choosing the best running shoes for the treadmill
Considering the number of running shoes on the market right now, it can be hard to determine which ones will help you speed up, train harder, and get those miles in—all without causing any injury. Below are the factors our experts say you should keep in mind when looking for the best running shoes for the treadmill.
Size and Fit
“When choosing a running shoe, you should always go a half-size bigger than your normal shoe size,” says Stevenin. “This is because your toes should have room to spread wide without any constriction. And your heel should fit comfortably in the back of your shoe without being able to slip out.” Definitely try on a few sizes to see what works best for you.
Stevenin says that in general, you’d want more lightweight shoes in order to be able to run faster on the treadmill. To qualify as lightweight, the shoes should clock in at less than 8 ounces, while heavier ones are usually closer to 10.5 ounces.
Essentially, a heel-to-toe drop is the difference in height between heel and forefoot in an athletic shoe, and depending on how you run, you might find that one specific number is more comfortable for you than another. Lobkova says that those who hit the ground heavily with their heel first should look for higher heel-to-toe drops, while those who hit the ground with their toes first should have a lower heel-to-toe drop.
“If you’re unsure how you run, it’s also possible to get a gait analysis done from your doctor,” adds Lobkova. “This can help you determine which part of your foot gets the most shock when you work out, and can help you choose the best shoe for you.”
“I would say you don’t need as heavy cushioning running on a treadmill as opposed to running outside,” says Stevenin. This is generally a matter of personal preference, and you can see how comfortable having different levels of cushioning is.
If you suffer from some sort of foot issue like flat feet or high arches, you should look for specialized running shoes, according to Lobkova. “Most people have some degree of a flat foot,” she stresses. “True high arches are less common, and typically need a neutral running sneaker. For people with flat feet, a stability or motion control shoe might be needed.” She recommends getting a gait analysis test to determine for how long you pronate during the walking/running cycle (how much your ankle and arch tip), and how the foot lands on the ground at heel contact.
Still confused? We got our experts to do some of the narrowing down for you. Here are the best shoes for running on the treadmill, according to a fitness expert and podiatrist.
“My favorite shoe is the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22 Sneakers,” says Stevenin. “It has the perfect amount of support, stability and cushioning, which makes it great for both treadmills and outdoor running.”
Made of recycled materials and mesh, the winning feature of the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22 Sneakers is the fact that it’s designed to offer the perfect balance of support and softness. At around 10 pounds, it’s not the lightest shoe on the market, but the reason people love it so much has everything to do with its cushioning: Not too soft nor too light, the shock absorption makes it so it prevents injuries, without making you feel like you’re trying to run on a cloud. This shoe has a 12 millimeter heel to toe drop, promoting better foot mechanics and decreasing the amount of stress on your body as well.
Material: Recycled materials and mesh
Heel toe drop: 12mm
Sizes available: 5-12 regular, narrow, and wide
If the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22 Sneaker mentioned above is too heavy for you (aka, you want something you can really zoom in), then Lobkova recommends the Hoka One One Rincon 3 Women’s Shoes instead. Clocking in at 6.5 ounces for an average women’s size 8, this is one of the lightest sneakers on the market right now, and it also has a lower heel to toe drop, making it great for those who have a neutral foot (neither high arches nor flat feet). It also has an incredibly breathable upper layer, so if you tend to sweat a lot, this is the shoe for you.
Material: Synthetic and mesh
Heel toe drop: 5mm
Sizes available: 6-12
Best for injuries
While you should absolutely check in with your doctor before you try to start running with an injury (or even shortly after you’ve healed from one), if you get the go ahead, Lobkova suggests the Saucony Kinvara 12 Women’s Shoe. The lower heel to toe drop means it’ll help you land on your heels as opposed to your toes when you run, and it’s also available in wide sizes, so you can really stretch your toes out, preventing blisters and bunions. Its cushioning is light and responsive as well, so you definitely feel like there’s something there—but it’s still springy enough for speed.
Material: Recycled materials and mesh
Heel toe drop: 4mm
Sizes available: 5-12, regular and wide
Back in May 2022, Lululemon got into the running game, and designed these Blissfeel Women’s Running Shoes. According to the brand, this shoe provides a secure fit and added stability due to the padded tongue at the front and heel clip at the back. It’s also incredibly stylish, thanks to the vast array of fun colors to pick from, along with the cool two-toned heel and sloping shape. The mesh makes sure it’s super breathable, and at a 9.5mm heel to toe drop, it’s a great everyday shoe too.
Heel toe drop: 9.5mm
Sizes available: 5-11
Best for flat feet
“For those with flat feet, I recommend stability running and walking shoes, like the Asics GEL-Kayano 27 Running Shoes,” says Lobkova. “These shoes are for people who pronate for longer than they should be during the normal walking cycle, and so this type of shoe offers midfoot stability and support.” An easy way to test if a shoe is a stability shoe is to attempt to bend it at the midpoint, according to Lobkova: The more difficult it is to do so, the more stable the midsole, and thus the more stable the shoe.
Material: Synthetic and mesh
Heel toe drop: 10mm
Sizes available: 5-9
Best for high arches
If you have high arches, Lobkova suggests investing in the Brooks Women’s Ghost 14 Running Shoe, as it has an incredibly high heel to toe drop of 12mm. “This is necessary for those with high arches because this, along with the extra cushioning under the toes, helps to dissipate pressure under the ball of the foot.” This shoe is also available in tons of sizes from narrow to wide, allowing for the perfect fit and stability each time.
Heel toe drop: 12mm
Sizes available: 5-11, narrow, medium, and wide
Want to be the first to hear about the latest (and greatest) SHOP product drops, custom collections, discounts, and more? Sign up to have the intel delivered straight to your inbox.
Loading More Posts...