You don’t need us to tell you that all running shoes are not created equal, do you?
Specialization of tools is our special skill as a species, from flint axes and stone hammers, to our modern world, where you wouldn’t carve meat with a soup spoon. “The right tool for the job” is imprinted on our DNA, and the more precisely right for a job the tool is, the more we love it.
So it is with running shoes. Sure, plenty of modern running shoes have broad capabilities. That only makes sense, because shoemakers can’t know exactly why runners will want their particular shoes.
But within the broad sweep of capabilities, some shoes are better at some things, and others excel in other areas. Some work better for marathons, others for sprints. Some tear up the trails, others are strictly city kickers. Others again are most at home…well…at home, or in the gym, rocking out their supportive bounce-back on the never-ending road to nowhere we call a treadmill.
You knew that not all running shoes were created equal, sure. That would be Communism. But did you know there are running shoes that are actually best for use on treadmills?
You know you did. You clicked this link, after all.
Step right this way. And step. And step some more, as we turn up the speed, bump up the incline and share the best running shoes for treadmill work.
Our Top 5 Treadmill Running Shoes
OUR TOP PICK
Sorry, guys. There are great running shoes for treadmill work available to you, but top of the pile is the ASICS Women’s Gel-Kayano 26.
Now, in the first of many disclaimers, let us say that the shoes on this list are not by any means solely indoor kitties. They’re not like Mogwai – you can get them wet without any ill effect, so feel free to use them on your open-air running stints. But if you’re treadmill-training, the Kayano 26 is going to look after your feet very well indeed.
If there’s one key difference between outdoor running and treadmill running, it’s summed up in one word: repetition.
Outside, your run will change – there’ll be unusual elements, sudden moments of difference, occasional shocks to navigate, differences in pressure and in the way your foot hits the earth.
Part of the point of a treadmill is that it irons out those sudden moments of difference. You’re in control of the environment, but the actual hitting of foot on surface is comparatively repetitive.
You’re going to need some solidly reliable cushioning and support to cope with that day after day, run after run.
Fortunately, comfort, cushioning and support are the watchwords by which the Kayano 26 was created.
Reliable both on the treadmill and the road, it deploys Flytefoam Lyte technology, the wonder that is gel technology and Dynamic Duomax, which gives you extra arch support. Again, arch support is a thing you need on treadmills because of the repetitive nature of the exercise, the footfall.
The positioning of the gel – and there’s quite a lot of gel in play in this shoe – in the rearfoot softens the lateral side of the shoe and gives you impact protection towards the heel.
While stopping short of declaring that footwear is a feminist issue – it is, but let’s not get into that here – ASICS has developed what it calls ‘gender-specific cushioning.’ (Don’t write to us, we know gender’s a social construct, rather than a biological one). What that means is that there are different midsole stacks in the women’s model and the men’s. In the women’s version, you get a softer ride profile and a 13mm heel-toe drop, compared with the 10mm drop in the men’s.
All of this combines to make a softer, more cushioned, more forgiving running shoe that can eat up treadmill miles while keeping you safe and comfortable. The increase in arch support suits treadmill running especially well, and a redesign for this model allows for smoother, more certain forefoot transmissions.
And if we’re being shallow for a moment, the Kayano 26 is a good looking shoe. Various snazzy colour options and visible gel make it a shoe you can afford to be seen in for significant periods of time in a gym situation. That’s not why it tops our list of best running shoes for treadmill work – that’d be all the cushioning, arch support and cleverness. But if you’re going to be running ‘on the spot’ for hours, rather than running through the outside world, having shoes that look cool is no bad thing.
- Lots of cushioning for a softer run
- Arch support to help with a repetitive treadmill run
- The insole is removable should you need specific orthotics
- Strong in the midsole
- Price – this is a fairly expensive shoe for the treadmill
- Watch the fitting – ASICS has a tendency towards narrow fitting
- Weight – you might be surprised how heavy it is for a treadmill shoe
- SpevaFoam 45 Lasting - Employs 45 degree full length SpevaFoam 45 lasting material for a soft platform feel and improved comfort.
- I.G.S (Impact Guidance System) Technology - ASICS design philosophy that employs linked componentry to enhance the foot's natural gait from heel strike to toe-off.
- FlyteFoam Lyte Technology - ASICS lightest weight midsole formulation that provides continuous cushion thanks to organic nano fibers.
Something’s happened to the Fresh Foam 1010.
In fact, it’s not straying too far into hyperbole to say the V10 feels like a completely different shoe to any of its predecessors, so cast them from your mind. It’s time to start over.
So what do we know?
We know the V10 is a neutral shoe with lots of cushioning, meaning it’ll suit the repetitive nature of treadmill running.
We know that Fresh Foam X has been deployed throughout the shoe, which makes the cushioning effect it has a lot softer and more responsive.
We know it’s been tweaked to an 8mm drop, so it’s more suited to midfoot strikers.
We know it comes with a “Hypoknit” upper, which users have been calling “insanely comfortable” – so there’s nothing about the upper with which to quibble over long use.
Bottom line then, what we know is that it feels like a highly competitive treadmill shoe.
The new design of Fresh Foam X, launched in this model, gives a softer feel to each footfall, which means there’s no need to break the shoe in. You can take it out of the box, set up your treadmill, and do ten miles if you want.
The foam is on the firmer side of the equation, which means it can take some runners a little while to get used to. But the purpose is simple – firm foam plus soft cushioning allows your foot to feel engaged all the way through the run.
The V10 is designed in a ‘rocker’ style, and that, combined with the firm foam, gives it a bouncy feel which encourages longer strides. Like the ASICS list-leader, it’s also a shoe with a distinctive aesthetic personality. It looks good over long treadmill sessions – and the point is, you can immediately put it through long treadmill sessions. The New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 V10 has both a look and a feel that persuades you it can take any amount of treadmilling you throw at it.
- New generation Fresh Foam adds firm spring to your run
- Impressive cushioning – run straight out of the box
- A lightweight treadmill shoe
- The foam makes the shoe useful for runners with high arches
- A durable shoe, not given to falling apart easily
Slight mental disconnect between the level of cushioning and the firmness of the foam takes some getting used to.
- Cushioned Running Shoes for Every Runner: Part of the Fresh Foam X collection, these shoes use our latest advancements in data to design to deliver precise plushness exactly where you need it
- Support and Durability: This shoe features a Hypoknit upper designed to provide strategic areas of stretch and support, in addition to a blown rubber outsole for impressive durability
- Perfect Fit: These comfortable running shoes include a bootie upper construction and an Ultra Heel design, both of which hug the back of the foot for a snug, supportive fit
Suacony has a strong reputation among hardcore runners, and the Liberty Iso delivers a good combination of comfort and stability. That means while it’s great on treadmills, you can also get your money’s worth out of this shoe on the open road.
It brings a sense of speed to your running through Saucony’s Everrun technology. That technology gives a spring to the shoe which might come as a surprise on the treadmill, compared with some heavier mile-pounding shoes. Extra spring means what? Engaged, enlivened feet, and some better training at higher tempos. Crank that treadmill speed dial with these shoes and they’ll feel more at home.
They’re not all about the speed though. In fact, Saucony seems to have struck a balance here between the streamlined speed machine and the need for comfort and stability in a good treadmill training shoe. The ride here is both soft and, importantly, delivers consistency, mile after treadmilling mile.
While keeping a lot of underfoot technology from previous successful shoes in its range, the Liberty Iso brings in a medial post to help runners prone to overpronation. That also adds stability to the whole shoe for all runners.
With a 4mm drop, it’s especially kind and sensible to those who strike on the forefoot, or those with medium arches.
There’s a lot of running shoe in the Liberty Iso, and it’s a shoe that can stand up to the rigors of outdoor life as well as treadmill work.
As a treadmill running shoe though, its combination of comfort, stability and surprising bounce make it an unexpected relief as you clock up the miles.
Lightweight for treadmill work
Supportive, using Everrun technology
Well-cushioned without ever feeling complacent
Medial post to help with overpronation
Price – while there’s a lot of shoe here, it’s priced accordingly
What’s that, you say? Back with ASICS for another women’s treadmill shoe?
Why yes. Yes, we are. Life is like that sometimes. Sometimes, without knowing it, what you need in your life and gym is more ASICS. You’re welcome.
So what makes the ASICS Roadhawk FF2 a great choice for treadmill work?
Much the same as makes our two other shoes great for treadmill work. The application of science and technology and design to the creation of a shoe that gives lots of protection from repetitive running.
The Roadhawk uses the Flytefoam technology familiar from the Kayano 26, which means it’s lightweight and yet comfortable.
Having the Flytefoam through the midsole gives the Roadhawk some good firmness to counteract the repetitive pounding of treadmill work. Coupled with a highly breathable mesh upper for ventilation, it adds up to a running show which adds fun and freshness to any treadmill session.
The Roadhawk is a good entry level treadmill running show, competitively priced for beginners, or those just starting out on their serious treadmill regime.
It’s not by any means the most supportive running shoe on the market. But as an intensely comfortable running shoe with the cushioning and responsiveness for hard treadmill work, the FF2 is worth further investigation. As a package that gives you much of what you need for treadmill work without blowing your running shoe budget, it elevates itself to a place on our list.
Lightweight running shoe for treadmill work
Well-cushioned for treadmill pounding
Price – comparatively very affordable
A lack of support means it’s less of an all-purpose shoe
- FlyteFoam Propel Technology - ASICS energetic foam formulation that provides supreme bounce thanks to a unique elastomer compound.
- AHAR Plus Outsole - Strategically positioned in critical areas of the outsole, this exceptionally durable compound is 50% more durable than standard ASICS High Abrasion Rubber.
- SpevaFoam 45 Lasting - Employs 45 degree full length SpevaFoam 45 lasting material for a soft platform feel and improved comfort.
Ah, gentlemen. Welcome to the treadmill party. Grab your adidas Adizero Boston 8s and let’s get running.
Why the Adizero Boston 8?
Because it’s a strongly competitive neutral shoe, which delivers high levels of response and is lightweight for treadmill-pounding. To add to its cushioning, it has the adidas Boost midsole, which takes a lot of the potential ache out of longer distance treadmilling.
It’s especially suited to heel strikers with high arches, and can protect your feet from the rigors of longer distances on a treadmill. That means you can hammer the miles out in these shoes without feeling like the miles have hammered you right back.
If it has a downside, it’s not in the construction of the shoe, but in the range of its offering. adidas has yet to make the Adizero Boston 8 in wider sizes, so you have to be comfortable in fairly “standard” fittings to get the most out of its impressive cushioning and support.
If you can do that though, the Adizero Boston 8 is a solidly supportive, springy, comfortable shoe, and a gift to the long distance treadmiller.
- Lightweight shoe, ideal for treadmill work
- Supportive, through the Boost midsole
- Effectively cushioned
- Great for longer treadmilling distances
- As yet unavailable in wider fittings
- Lightweight running shoes with adaptive cushioning for extra comfort
- Regular fit; Lace closure
- Breathable mesh upper; Stretchweb outsole flexes naturally for an energized ride; Continental Rubber gives you superior traction
How to Choose Treadmill Running Shoes
If you’re buying running shoes specifically or mostly for treadmill work, there are a few things to keep in mind.
The Road Is Not The Boss Of You
The treadmill is not the road. That means lots of the things you’d normally take into consideration when buying running shoes – flexibility, support over changing urban landscapes, etc – needn’t be factors in your choice any more.
On the other hand, the treadmill brings considerations of its own. As a more repetitive running environment, stability is technically less important, but cushioning more important. You want a shoe that can help you crank out mile after mile on an indoor running surface.
Treadmilling is not the same as outdoor running. Don’t treat it as though it is. Look for shoes that give you specific treadmill advantages.
Put Your Feet Forward
If you’ve read our list, you’ll know there are running shoes that specialize in helping almost everyone – overpronators, heel strikers, toe strikers, high arches, medium arches, etc.
Know your feet. Know their length and their width, obviously, but understand your gait too. Do you overpronate? Do you need help with a particular aspect of gait, running and shoe-choice that can guide you to a pair of running shoes that will improve your treadmill experience? Maybe get a professional at the gym to give you an analysis of your running style and the kind of shoes that would help you. Then look for shoes that can address your issues before you click the ‘Buy’ button.
Don’t Discount Durability
Some people think if they’re getting a pair of running shoes for treadmill work that they’re ‘just’ for treadmill work. That means they resist paying out for support, cushioning or long life in those shoes, where they wouldn’t resist paying for those things in road shoes.
Don’t be those people
Firstly, it’s quite possible that your treadmill running shoes will actually turn out to be treadmill+outdoor running shoes, so if you go cheap, you’re losing the stability you need. And secondly, you’re still going to run mile after mile after mile in these shoes. Cheapskating on the price because they’re ‘just’ treadmill shoes only sentences you to foot pain and potentially longer-term issues. Treadmilling is not the same as road running, absolutely. That’s no excuse to treat it like it’s not hard work, or like it doesn’t impact your feet hard. Pay what you need to pay to get shoes that support, cushion and protect you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a pair of running shoes especially for treadmill work?
Certainly you need shoes that will help you to a) get the most out of your treadmill work, b) allow you to achieve your treadmill goals in terms of time and distance, and c) make sure your feet are safe, supported and protected throughout.
While many running shoes have a broad potential for use indoors and out, choosing a pair of running shoes with features that help you do all these things on a treadmill will pay you dividends in the long…erm…run.
What features should I look for in a treadmill running shoe?
Comfort and cushioning are key in treadmill work. Treadmill running is repetitive, so you’re making regular impacts on the same parts of your feet. Look for running shoes that help cushion and protect them from those repetitive impacts.
What should a pair of running shoes for treadmill cost me?
That will depend on your choice of brand and the particular features you want them to have. High-tech cushioning is going to cost you more, but you should probably invest in it as you’re going to do serious miles in the shoes. Additional considerations like pronation aids will cost you more, but bring you greater comfort if you need them. Above all though, don’t skimp on the cushioning or technology that could help you lessen the impact and potential pain of treadmill running. That’s a false economy just waiting to pay you back.