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Sneakers Vs Running Shoes: A Comparison Guide

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Most of the people often get confused whether to choose sneakers or running shoes. Well, for an avid runner or trying a marathon, then running shoes are perfect. But for causal walking or jogging, sneakers are the right choice.

Wondering why? Then you can get clear understanding in this article. Here, we will discuss the ultimate distinguishing features between the duo.

We will learn how these both shoes benefit you and in what ways.

What are Running Shoes?

As the name goes by, running shoes are exclusively for running. They offer great protection to your feet when they hit the ground continuously. These shoes come specially tailored to provide the required support and cushioning to your foot.

The running shoes are lightweight and offer heel-to-toe movement. They allow you to move your foot forward more efficiently. They come with a higher heel drop that allows great comfort during long distances and shock absorption.

What are Sneakers?

Sneakers are usually for casual wear. Although they were originally designed for some specific physical activities, they have become more of casual wear today. Altogether, sneakers are those shoes that are for wearing casually or for any other purpose. The components used to make these shoes include canvas, rubber, etc.

Unlike running shoes, the sneakers come with only a little padding and cushioning. Since these are designed for daily usage, they provide the required support and cushioning to your foot while walking and jogging. They lack lateral assistance and many other characteristics that an athlete requires. Hence, they are not just shoes for athletics.

What are the Differences Between Sneakers and Running Shoes?

There are many features that distinguish sneakers and running shoes. Here is a comparative analysis of the duo that will help you get a better understanding of the differences:

Features Sneakers Running Shoes
Flexibility Sneakers offer moderate flexibility. Running shoes offer moderate to advanced flexibility.
Heel Type and Height Sneakers do not have any heels and they are for ergonomic wear. Running shoes come with higher heel drop to provide a faster pace and comfortable running.
Cushioning Most sneakers do not offer cushioning. However, a few models come with this feature. Running shoes provide required padding and cushioning to the feet for shock absorption.
Sole The sole of the sneakers lasts moderately. The sole of the running shoes is long-lasting.
Durability Sneakers are highly durable than running shoes. Running shoes have less lifespan when compared to sneakers.
Breathability Most sneakers come with little to no breathability. Some athletic sneakers come with an engineered mesh for better breathability. Running shoes come with an engineered mesh for better breathability.
Traction Sneakers offer high ground traction. Running shoes offer less ground traction.

Let us discuss about each characteristic feature in detail below:

1. Flexibility

Running shoes offer great flexibility. They offer comfortable heel-to-toe movement and allow the runner to move forward more efficiently.

Even sneakers or walking shoes offer flexibility. They offer the required side-to-side movement and allow the user to push off with each stride effortlessly.

Summary: Both running shoes and sneakers offer the required flexibility for the respective movements. Any stiffness in them will cause pain in the feet.

2. Heel Drop

Running shoes come with higher heel drop to provide a faster pace and comfortable running. The heel height guarantees great stabilization for runners when they land on their midfoot or forefoot.

On the other hand, the sneakers do not come with any heels, unlike the running shoes. They are flat. While walking, we land with our entire foot at once. Hence, sneakers do not require any specific heel design. Moreover, a flared heel might not allow the rolling during the stride.

Heel drop is nothing but the difference between the heel height and the toe height of your shoe.

Summary: When walking, you should avoid doing it in heels. So, sneakers are the best option.

3. Cushioning

Running shoes provide required padding and cushioning to the feet for shock absorption. When running, you exert about three times your body weight when your foot hits the ground. Hence, you require more cushioning to your feet.

Contrary to the above, when walking, you exert about 1.5 times your body weight when your foot hits the ground. Hence, you do not require greater cushioning as in a pair of running shoes. For this reason, most sneakers do not offer cushioning. However, there are a few models that come with this feature, offering less cushioning.

Summary: Your foot does not require additional comfort while walking. Hence, the sneakers do not have cushioning. While running, your feet require extra padding and cushioning for a comfortable landing on the ground.

4. Sole And Durability

Running shoes have great sole flexibility that offers heel-to-toe movement and allows the runner to move forward more efficiently. The sole of the running shoes is long-lasting. If we talk about the lifespan, running shoes are less durable when compared to sneakers.

Walking shoes or sneakers come with a flexible midsole that offers side-to-side movement. Moreover, the sole of the sneakers is moderately durable than the running shoes because of the multiple movements. Coming to longevity, they have a longer lifespan than running shoes.

Summary: While the soles of running shoes last somewhat longer than sneakers, the lifespan of the latter is more than the former.

5. Breathability

Breathability is yet another considerable factor when wearing a pair of shoes. It differs for various types based on their porous structure and construction.

While running or performing high-intensity workouts, you tend to reject heat through your feet in the form of sweat. If your shoe is breathable, it dries out this sweat quickly and does not hinder the performance of the runner. Hence, the running shoes come with an engineered mesh for better breathability.

Sneakers are mostly known for their aesthetic exterior, containing designs. Hence, most sneakers come with little to no breathability. However, some athletic sneakers come with an engineered mesh for better breathability.

Summary: If you are looking for a breathability feature, opt for running shoes. If you want to go for sneakers, look for this option. If you do not have it, you need to be mindful of your choice.

6. Ground Traction

The running shoes provide less traction in comparison to the sneakers. Despite this, they still offer the traction required to support your feet from slipping on wet surfaces. However, you do not require traction when running on straight paths. Remember that the traction differs from terrain to terrain.

When compared to running shoes, sneakers provide high traction.

Summary: Comparatively, running shoes offer less ground traction than sneakers.

What Can Happen to Your Body if you Work Out in the Wrong Shoes?

Not wearing the right pair of shoes is always a matter of concern. Oftentimes, we may neglect the fact that not using the right shoe does not make any difference. But it is not as you think. You will face some after-effects if you use the wrong shoes for your workouts. Below are some of them:

1. Discomfort

It all starts with discomfort. The primary effect you can notice by wearing incompatible shoes for your regular workouts is the level of discomfort. Consequently, you may experience blisters, pains, or soreness in the feet. Anytime, when wearing your shoes, if you feel uncomfortable and notice any of the above symptoms, it is a clear indication that you are using the wrong ones.

The best shoes will undoubtedly give you all the comfort and support that your foot needs. As a result, you will hardly notice any effects or discomfort.

2. Lowered Performance

Lowered performance is yet another side-effect of wearing the wrong type of shoe for the right exercise. It can hinder your performance and will not allow you to perform the way you should. That said, you will end up not wanting your shoes to hold you back when you are working hard to become the better version of yourself.

Assume that you are using running shoes for your training and other intense workouts. You will notice the losing traction and stability that you need when performing these exercises. In the same way, if you wear training shoes for running, it will affect your stride, and you will not perform at your peak.

3. Injuries

When you wear the wrong types of shoes, you are bound to get injured. When you use running shoes for workouts, your foot does not get the proper support it requires for performing the exercises. As a result, the feet may develop excess stress and eventually result in injuries. Here are some of the most common injuries the incompatible shoes are going to cause you:

  • If you use running shoes for lateral movement, it will spike the chances of ankle sprains.
  • If you use running shoes for plyometric workouts, it increases the chances of ankle or knee injury.
  • If you use training shoes for running, it will higher the chances of getting plantar fasciitis.
  • When you do not run in running shoes, it may result in stress fractures.
  • When you wear the wrong type of running shoes, you may not get the proper support for your pronation type.
  • When you lift weights in cushioned running shoes, they do not support the natural movement of your feet.

How to Decide Between Sneakers and Running Shoes?

Although deciding between sneakers and running shoes might be a clear scenario for some, others may find it a little challenging. Those people who run a lot will definitely go towards the running shoes. Others, who love to hit the gym for some regular workouts and exercises, appreciate using training shoes or sneakers. The real challenge arises for people who do both running and go to the gym. They will have trouble finding the right pair of shoes.

Are you someone struggling to decide between running shoes and sneakers? You need to take up this assessment that will help you in choosing what you need the most:

  • How often do you run in a week? Is it more than thrice?
  • What is the distance you cover when you run? Is it more than 5km at one time?
  • Is running your primary form of exercise?
  • Does your underfoot require a lot of cushioning and padding?

If your answer for most of these questions is yes, the chances are high that you need running shoes. They are the best option for your requirements.

Alternatively, if your answer for most of these questions is no, then you probably need sneakers or training shoes. That said, sneakers are the ideal choice for your walking requirements.

A Few Words To Conclude:

Running shoes are exclusively for running, and sneakers are for casual wear. Both are designed for different purposes and support different movements. Running in your sneakers will hold you back from performing your best. Similarly, if you walk in your running shoes for longer distances, it will not give your feet the required support, comfort, and shock absorption.

I hope this article gave you complete insights into what running shoes and sneakers are and what are they meant for. You must now be able to discern which shoes you will need. You can use this article as a reference to make an informed decision. You can even share this information with your friends who need to know and understand about sneakers and running shoes.

Write to us in the comments section below if you have any questions or want to know more about the differences between running shoes and sneakers. We will try our best to answer all your queries at the earliest.

Please feel free to share your feedback with us by posting your inputs to this article in the comments below. If you feel that we missed out on any points, do not hesitate to let us know. We welcome your suggestions and love to hear from you.

Stay healthy and stay safe!!!

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