21 Most Popular Frequently Asked Questions on Running Shoes

Last Updated: June 9, 2022

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When selecting a running shoe, you are bound to ask yourself several questions. The answers will help you know what to look for and expect with the shoes. It will also help you demystify myths around running shoes.

Because running shoes are an essential component of this activity, it is crucial to research and make the right choice. Because of this, we get to answer your questions on the science of running shoes, injuries related, cleaning the shoes, and all related matters. Now let’s dive in.

How Do Running Shoes Help?

Running shoes are designed for different training exercises, feet, and people. The differences are meant to enhance the runner’s experience by compensating for their shortcomings. While a feature in one shoe could improve performance at one person, it might demean it in another, and thus it is important to research the running shoe features ideal for your needs.

Running shoes are great because they provide cushioning, which reduces the risk of muscles, joints, and bone pain or injury. They also provide arch support, which is very crucial, especially for people with flat feet.  

They can also help you run faster. In addition, running shoes come in handy in preventing injuries by providing support, while some have features such as a rock shield that protect the foot if you land on a sharp object. They can also protect against twisting by including unique features in the midsole of the shoe.

How Do Running Shoes Work?

Although running seems to have gained immense popularity as a sport in the last decade, human beings have been running for decades upon decades. Running shoes haven’t always been around as the first running shoe traces to 1865. 

Running shoes provide a medium between the running surface and the runner’s foot. It works by cushioning in the midsole to reduce the impact felt on foot upon touching the ground. The hard outer material of the shoe, known as the outsole, also protects while facilitating grip to reduce the risk of falling.

Other features such as the uppers, tongue padding, laces are meant to aid the functioning of the shoe to meet the desired effect. How a shoe is structured might deliver superior stability, motion control, or combating supination or supination.

How Do Running Shoes Improve Performance?

Research that compared the running performance of Nike Vaporfly and Adidas Adios Boost and Nike Zoom Streak showed that the Nike Vaporfly improved the amount of energy one needs to run over a specific distance compared to Adidas Adios Boost.

As such, it is evident that running shoes can help performance, and some are better at doing so than others. Running shoes improve performance by preventing injuries, combating shortcomings such as supination and pronation, absorbing shock, and providing energy return.

How Do Running Shoes Fit?

A running shoe needs to be about half a size bigger than your usual casual or dress shoe. It needs to leave about one inch between the long toe and the end of the shoe. As such, you need to pinch some fabric at the shoe’s sides or upper part. 

A well-fitting running shoe will allow room for efficient blood flow and reduce the chances of feet swelling after running. It is also essential to get your feet measured as the size changes in case of injury or pregnancy and with age.

Can Running Shoes Be Used for Walking?

Running shoes are more lightweight, cushioned, and flexible. Both walkers and runners need to be cushioned against impact with the ground, and they also need flexible shoes. Further, a more lightweight shoe will make it easier for both walkers and runners as it means that they have less weight to lift off the ground.

So, yes, you can wear running shoes for walking. They have most, if not all, of the features needed in a walking shoe. In fact, their features are more enhanced compared to those of walking shoes. A bonus is that running shoes are often more durable than walking ones.

Can Running Shoes Be Used for Training?

Running shoes will not be ideal if you are into intense training such as squats or deadlifting. Running shoes are not made for heavy lifting because they are flexible and feature soft cushioning. They will not hold the foot in place during heavy training, which is likely to affect your performance.

However, if you only do lightweight training, then you may use the pair for both running and training. The advantage to this is that you will not need to spend money on different pairs, and it also allows you to go running and training at a go without carrying an extra pair of shoes.

Can Running Shoes Cause Knee Pain?

So many things can cause knee pain. Your choice of running shoes can influence how you run and consequently lead to knee pain. Studies show that more cushioned shoes can lead to increase leg stiffness and also increases impact loading. As such, they are likely to lead to knee pain due to leg stiffness.

It is recommended that you wear the correct running shoes to reduce knee pain. It is essential to know that running shoes do not damage your knees. Instead, the truth is that running improperly hurts the knees. A key part of running correctly is getting the right pair for your feet and running style.

How Do Running Shoes Differ from Walking Shoes?

Running shoes are often lighter in terms of weight and more cushioned. They also have stiffer soles, while walking shoes have more blend and flex soles. Running shoes also have thicker heels, while walking ones have beveled heels, and if they were to have thicker heels, they would put you at risk of shin splints and tendinitis.

While running shoes are designed to provide more motion control for keeping the foot neutral. On the other hand, the design of walking shoes does not necessarily require motion control since the foot is less likely to lose stability.

How Do Running Shoes Prevent Injury?

Studies show that an appropriate pair of running shoes can prevent injuries. Running shoes prevent injury by including certain features such as ideal cushioning.

Cushioning in running shoes absorbs and spreads out shock upon impact between the foot and running surface. As such, less force reaches the foot muscles and joints, consequently preventing or reducing the risk of injuries.

Other aspects of a shoe that prevent injury include the sole, especially those with rock shields, a midsole designed to avoid twisting, and an ideal toe-to-heel drop that supports the foot appropriately, primarily for people with flat feet or dropped arches.

Can Running Shoes Cause Back Pain?

Running shoes provide support, comfort, and cushioning. However, a wrong pair of running shoes can cause back pain. Cushioning in shoes provides you with much-needed shock absorption, but they alter your natural running style while doing so.

Some cushioning might lead the impact towards the forefoot and midfoot instead of the heel area. This might result in misalignment that, with time, leads to lower back pain.

In addition, a shoe that does not provide you with the kind of support you need puts you at risk of back pain. For example, the support provided by a shoe designed for runners who require additional support around the heel would not be ideal for those who need extra arch and ankle support.

Can I Use Running Shoes for Gym?

The short answer is yes; you can wear running shoes for the gym.

However, it would help to keep in mind that running shoes are not made for heavy weight lifting. As such, they are likely to get worn out much faster. Further, if you are into very heavyweights, the soft cushioning of running shoes will not deliver the needed support. 

Another likely shortcoming of using running shoes for the gym is that their uppers are not as thick and stiff, and thus they might not effectively hold the foot in place. All in all, if you only go to the gym for light fitness activities, you can wear your running shoes in the gym.

Can I Wash Running Shoes in Washing Machine?

It is not advisable to wash your running shoes in a washing machine. While the machine provides a simple way of keeping the shoes in great appearance and functional, it might cost you in the end. 

Washing machines are harsh for most running shoes, and they are likely to weaken the adhesives and fabric. In addition, the detergent compounds and pressure from hot water might melt the glue holding the shoe in place, thus making the shoe falling apart.

Further, the machine might be affected too. In case the shoes were muddy, the particles might clog the machine. It is recommended that you hand wash your running shoes to keep them in good shape and functional for longer.

Can I Wear Running Shoes for Hiking?

Yes, you can wear running shoes for hiking. They will serve the purpose if you are hiking on light trails such as walking in the woods. However, it is better to hike with trail shoes, especially if you will hike on rugged trails. Trail shoes are a blend of hiking and running shoes, so you get a mix of features from the two. 

Hiking boots would be the best choice for long, tough trails, and you are an avid hiker. Any other shoe might not have the required sturdiness, and you would be putting your feet at a higher risk of pain and injuries.

Can I Put Running Shoes in The Dryer?

If you have the appropriate settings and techniques, you can put your running shoes in the dryer. Even so, you should be aware of the fact that the shoes or the machine can get damaged if you do not do this correctly. 

To protect your shoes and the machine, check the shoe’s label first to confirm if they are safe for the dryer. Further, put the shoes in the dryer together with towels. Doing this helps absorb the shock and prevent them from ruining the inside of the dryer. Stuffing inside the shoes would also prevent them from shrinking.

Should I Buy Running Shoes Half Size Bigger?

Proper fit is paramount in whichever running shoes you choose. A properly fitting running shoe needs to have some wiggle room in the toes area and a snug fit around the midfoot and heel. A well-fitting shoe is comfortable, and research shows that comfort plays a significant role in reducing the risk of injury. 

Half a size bigger running shoe allows your feet room upon swelling when running. Otherwise, you are at risk of getting black toenails or blisters. When buying your running shoes, if possible, get measured first. The best time to go is in the afternoon because feet swell as the day progresses.

Should I Alternate Running Shoes?

Yes, you should alternate running shoes. It prevents overuse-related injuries. This is because a good number of running-related injuries are caused by repetitive feet movement. Alternating shoes ensures that your foot is not running in the same motion.

Further, it allows you to achieve different running speeds. This is because different running shoes are structured distinctly and thus deliver different experiences and performances. Other reasons why you should alternate running shoes include running on various terrains and making the shoes long-lasting.

Can Running Shoes Be Used for Tennis?

Both tennis and running are movements that highly involve the feet, and as such, the choice of shoes is important. The short answer is yes; you can play tennis in your running shoes.

But you need to be aware that tennis shoes and running shoes differ in terms of lateral support. Tennis involves a lot of side-to-side movement, and you are prone to slipping. As such, the shoes for this sport promote stability and lateral support.

Can Running Shoes Cause Hip Pain?

Hips are some of the biggest joints in the human body, and they are vital in running. Running shoes play a part in how well you run. As such, if there is a problem with the shoes, your hips and all other joints involved in the running are affected. 

Besides hip pain, the wrong running shoes can lead to cons, tendonitis, bunions, plantar fasciitis, and other serious illnesses. To avoid such, seek expert guidance, especially when buying your first pair of running shoes. An expert will help you choose a running shoe that meets your running style, kind of feet, and running trail requirements.

If you are experiencing running-related back pain, first stop running and seek medical help.

Can Running Shoes Be Used for Basketball?

A direct answer is that, yes, you can use running shoes when playing basketball. This is because running shoes allow you to move on challenging surfaces. However, the real question is whether the running shoes have the exact features required in the best basketball shoes. 

Basketball shoes have a more rigid sole and thicker and higher ankles compared to running shoes. They allow you to make frequent starts and stops without twisting the ankle or applying extra pressure on your feet. If you need a shoe that will serve as a running shoe and for playing basketball, choose cross-trainers.

When Should I Change Running Shoes?

There is no standard duration after which you should change your running shoes. It varies from one runner to the other. In general, it is recommended that you change your running shoes after using them for about 300 – 500 miles. 

If you have been using your shoes for a long, then there will be indicators that the shoes are changing. It could be cushioning or general comfort, but you will know that the shoes no longer give you the familiar feel.

Do not wait till the shoes are worn out in appearance; at that stage, it is most definitely too late, and you might have already exposed your body to running-related injuries and pain.

Should I Buy Running Shoes Online?

Buying running shoes from any non-physical place is risky, especially if you are trying a new brand or shoe model and if there is no return policy. Even when the shoes come in the right size, they might not feel right on your feet.

It is recommendable to buy shoes in-store, especially if you are changing the brand or model. This allows you to have a real feel of the shoe before making a financial commitment.

Buying running shoes online is convenient; it saves you time and energy. However, this should be reserved only for cases where you have tried on the shoes in a store before or as the last option.


There you go; we trust this article has answered some of your most popular questions on running shoes. In addition, we hope that you have learned a thing or two about this physical fitness activity.

Now, you are set on the right path towards getting the right pair for your running needs; go and reap the benefits.

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