Sneakers Vs Running Shoes: A Comparison Guide

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Today, we will be distinguishing the two most common types of shoes used by fitness enthusiasts as well as casual users that are sneakers and running shoes.

While buying new shoes, you will be looking for a particular type of shoes that are perfect for your use. When you look for shoes for running purposes, you will generally come across a variety of options under both, running shoes and sneakers category.

While both of these options are generally better than any other type of shoes for the said purpose, it is crucial to understand the major differences between both options to make sure you get the best option in your budget.

What is Sneaker?

Sneakers are somewhat the newer arrival of shoe designs if you compare them with good old pairs of running shoes. The sneakers also differ a lot in terms of appearance as well as useability than the regular running shoes or sports shoes. One of the common ways of differentiating a sneaker from other shoes is to look at its appearance.

Generally, the sneakers are aimed at a more fashion-based approach and look more attractive. Here are some important characteristics that can be seen in a sneaker:


The official definition of sneaker states that these are softer shoes that are used for casual purposes that include sports, running and other fitness-based exercise. It is quite true as all sneaker manufacturers focus on sports and provide similar types of branding on sneakers. Thus, it is able to provide the ultimate levels of comfort for the same purpose.

When indulging in a sport based activity, you will be moving at a faster pace and this, you will be impacting the ground on every step. This introduces fatigue on your feet and you might run into problems later on if proper shoes are not selected for these activities. Sneakers offer somewhat less cushioning than running shoes that certainly makes them better for walking and training.


The breathability of a shoe refers to the airflow possible from the outside to the inside of the shoes. Sneakers do not allow as much breathability as compared to other types of shoes. The breathability is achieved by allowing a porous structure on the outer periphery of the shoes.

This is where sneakers lack as the exterior is specifically designed with an aesthetic approach. Therefore, most sneakers appear with a completely sealed exterior design that provides more space for design and graffitis.

Ground Traction

This is yet another important factor that needs to be considered while buying a shoe. The ground traction of a shoe means the amount of grip it allows while it comes in contact with the ground and different types of terrains. With high traction, a more controllable grip is obtained which is suitable for running.

Although, this is not the case with sneakers as the bottom portion of the outer sole of the sneaker does not have a heavy texture. This minimizes the ground traction and minimizes the effort required for slow-paced walking. But, they are certainly not the ideal choice for high pace running.

Heel Height

The major difference between walking and running is the movement of the feet. While walking, you would generally touch the feet with the back portion of your feet whereas while running, one generally lands on the toes first.

Sneakers are generally flat types of shoes that do not have any extended height available for the heels whatsoever. This keeps the weight distribution balanced on the sneakers that in turn results in better maneuverability as compared to running shoes or sports shoes.

What is Running Shoe?

Now, let’s talk about the only shoes that we knew while growing up that were not part of our uniforms which are the running shoes. These shoes are more commonly referred to as sports shoes. This naming scheme world out perfectly for the running shoes as they are specifically designed for fast-paced runners. Even though it does not provide efficient performance in other activities, they are ideal for running. Let’s take a look at the basic properties of a running shoe:


When running, a runner constantly implies nearly 3 times his/her weight on the ground. Also, running makes much more difference than walking as you are impacting the ground with force rather than keeping a steady pace. Running shoes provide a high tier of cushioning as compared to sneakers so that you will not feel the harshness of the ground even when running at a very high speed.

Also, the sole of a running shoe is much harder than a sneaker that absorbs a large amount of shock before it is transferred through the cushioning. Therefore, running shoes are idle for running as well as jogging. But, the large amount of padding sometimes increases the weight of the shoes that makes them harder to wear in some cases.


Breathability is really important if you are planning to carry out heavy workouts. Whether you are running or jogging, you will reject heat through your feet via the means of sweat. With a breathable running shoe, the sweat gets dried up quickly and does not create a nuisance for the wearer. Research has also proven that breathable shoes are less prone to promote skin problems for the wearer.

But, there is a noticeable problem that occurs in almost all sports shoes. Due to the porous structure on the outside, dust and dirt get fixated within the holes and make the shoes difficult to clean. Therefore, if you decide to go with running shoes instead of sneakers, make sure you keep this problem in mind.

Ground Traction

Running shoes provide much higher traction with the ground because of the deeply grooved texture on the lower portion of the shoes. The high traction encourages the fraction between the shoes and the ground and allows you to run at a high speed without losing balance at any point. Also, the friction helps you to dodge obstacles easily that might come in your way.

While the heavy friction is great for running, it certainly becomes a problem if you simply wanna take a walk as the shoes are harder to move from the ground. This is not that big of a deal as you will get used to it after a while. But, it is one of the things that you should keep track of while buying a new pair of shoes.

Heel Height

The heel height of running shoes is probably the highest as compared to any other shoe type and style available in the industry. As we mentioned earlier, the heels do the most work while you are running. If proper cushioning is not provided while running, regular runners might face problems with the heels and heel bones later on.

Therefore, buying running shoes for regular running is certainly more advantageous for regular running. The extended heel size on running shoes prevents your heels from sudden impacts and saves you from eventual cramps that many runners face normally.

Sneakers vs Running Shoes

Up until now, we have seen all the major differences between a sneaker and a regular running shoe. But, it is important to consider all the differences mentioned above while buying one or the other so that you do not regret your decision later on. To help you with this, we are providing this comprehensive comparison table that should help you see things clearly and choose the right option amongst these two variants.

ParametersRunning ShoesSneakers
Cushioning and comfortHas more cushioningHas less cushioning
AirflowGreater airflowLittle to no breathability
Friction with groundGreater frictionComparatively slippery shoes
Flexibility of the shoeLess flexibleMore flexible
Torsional strengthTends to damage fasterHas better torsional strength
Heel SizeLarge heel sizeFlat bottomed shoes


Today, we discussed both sneakers and casual running shoes in detail. In this article, you can easily find almost all the important elements of a shoe and take a look at the basic parameters available in both options.

If you are still confused between the two options, you can consider our recommendation and go with sneaker shoes rather than running shoes. The main reason behind that is the versatility of sneakers as they can be used for multiple purposes whereas running shoes are the only great for running. Although, if you are a hardcore runner, then running shoes or sports shoes are a clear choice here.

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