What is the difference between running shoes and cross trainers? Is there not a very simple answer to this question…running shoes are meant to be worn when we are running and cross trainers are meant for when we are cross training (“whatever that means?”). Technically this is true but if the answer was so simple there would not be so many people wondering what the difference is.
If you have ever tried on a running shoe and a cross trainer you would have noticed some definite differences. For starters runners are very flexible and they seem as if they are tight around your toes. While cross trainers are more firm which makes them more supportive with a wider base and they are still flexible but not as flexible as running shoes.
The main difference between a running shoe and a cross trainer shoe is the fact that they each serve a completely different purpose. The purpose of a running shoe is that it is designed for forward motion (heel to toe strike) with an emphasis on thicker heels and soles and to help people who are running/jogging by propelling them forward. Cross trainers on the other hand are meant to be multi-task orientated as they offer more lateral support through the use of a wider front foot base and they assist you by giving you additional weight bearing stability.
Cross trainers are designed to provide you with some support while you run and they are also meant to allow you to be able to participate in other sports and physical activities. In order to do this they contain certain characteristics/features such as flexibility in the forefront of the shoe which is necessary for running. They serve their dual purpose by also containing elements which allow for the lateral movement needed for certain activities such as racquet sports and aerobics. They are often considered a general athletic shoe and are used by many people who take part in multiple physical activities. However, if you plan on taking part in a specific sport 3 times a week or more such as tennis, for example, it is a good idea to get this sports specific type of shoe. It will help you with your performance and with preventing injury. Cross trainers are also often used by people when they work out at the gym. I use them and have not had any problems. The good support and flexibility they provide allow one to easily perform heavy lifting exercises like squats along with more flexible movements such as lunges. The soles of cross trainers usually have a very supportive heel and some slight treads on them but these treads are not as prominent as they would be on the bottom of a running shoe.
Running shoes, on the other hand, are meant for what they say. For wearing when we are running. These shoes are mostly designed for runners or joggers. Sprinters and walkers will find that there are more specific shoes for their activities. However, runners can be worn for these activities as well. Running shoes are designed to be very flexible in the toe area and they have a very thick overall cushioning that allows for shock absorption during impact. This helps with preventing injuries and helps to transfer energy from your legs to your feet and into the ground as you move along. Running shoes also have great heel support due to the fact that you are slamming your feet/heels into the ground as you run. The soles of the shoe will be curved in a way that has the front tip of the shoe coming off the ground when the shoes are stationary on the floor. This helps with the running movement and this design along with the treads that accompany a running shoe’s sole also assist in propelling a runner forward as they are moving along.
Now you should realize that there is a clear difference between running shoes and cross training shoes and there is also different needs that each can perform. When deciding on which to buy always remember that the truth is there is no such thing as a one shoe fits all, including cross trainers. Different types of shoes are designed differently for a reason, to serve different purposes. With all equipment involving physical activity, in the same way picking the wrong shoe for your sport or exercise can result in poor performance or injury. Try to decide what activities you will be mostly involved in when deciding to buy running shoes or cross trainers. And do not be afraid to ask for the help of a sales person at the shoe store. They often have more knowledge about the shoes than anyone or they can at least point you to the person who does.