Both running and tennis are popular sports. So can you use running shoes for tennis? In short, the answer to this frequently asked question is no.
Running shoes are designed and shaped to move forward rapidly, while tennis requires much more intricate, fast foot movements and more lateral stability than running shoes.
Running shoes vs. Tennis Shoes
While running and tennis are sports that demand much from your feet, the amount of footwork in either sport is considerably different. Hence having the correct footwear is essential.
Running shoe design focuses on being lightweight and can sometimes sacrifice cushioning. However, cushioned support is essential for moving around the court at speed. Your average running shoe also won’t provide the ankle support required for rapid movement in various directions.
Cushion and Support
Running shoes support and cushion feet while moving forward in a consistent gait. They support your body weight via cushioned toe and heel support to minimize the impact of heel-to-toe strikes on the ground.
Shoes designed for running do not offer the ultimate lateral support since sideways motion is uncommon.
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, cushioned shoes are also called ‘neutral’ and are generally designed to support high arches. Stability shoes are ideal for runners whose arches could collapse.
Heavier runners with flat feet should invest in motion control shoes that provide arch support in the midsole while delivering heel support. Motion-control shoes are also ideal for overpronation (when your foot rolls inward while in motion).
Lateral Stability and Support
Tennis shoes are designed to focus on support and stability during lateral movements, which are critical for tennis players. Cushioning is also important for tennis players but not as essential as lateral support that offers a feeling of control due to being low to the ground.
Dragging unnecessary weight will make a runner slower, and their shoes have to be as lightweight as possible. Tennis shoes cannot be too weighty either, but support and durability surpass the importance of weight.
Durability and Sole
There is a substantial difference between the soles of running and tennis shoes. Runners ordinarily discard running shoes when they lose bounce or padding. The American Heart Association recommends replacing running shoes when they lose traction or tread – generally after 300 to 500 miles.
Tennis players typically discard shoes as soon as they wear through the outer sole or work it down to a smooth finish with virtually no traction. This also means that the outsoles of tennis shoes are much more resilient than running shoes. The continuous sliding, stop-and-start motion in tennis places considerable strain on the outer soles of tennis shoes.
Also, tennis shoes are usually flatter with purpose-designed sole patterns. Other athletic or training shoes have softer, thicker heels to decrease weight and minimize impact, while tennis shoes are sturdier.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that you understand the importance of wearing the correct footwear for tennis, let’s delve into a few frequently asked questions:
The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society recommends purchasing athletic footwear at speciality stores.
The preferred time is when your feet are swollen after a day’s activities. Remember to take a pair of your usual sports socks with you to the store. Also, walk around the store in them for a few minutes before making a final decision.
What different types of tennis shoes are available?
As you know, various court surfaces influence what outer sole to wear.
- All Court Tennis Shoes are exceedingly versatile. They offer the required durability for hard surfaces. However, they are not suited to wet grass.
- Carpet Court Tennis Shoes. These shoes have smooth soles, and the design is perfect for grip on carpet courts. You cannot wear these on other surfaces because the soles will wear out too soon.
- Grass Court Tennis Shoes. These outer soles are usually covered in small protrusions or ‘bubble-like’ bumps – also called pimples – to properly grip grass surfaces, whether natural or artificial grass. They are unsuitable for rougher surfaces that wear out the pimples too fast.
- Omni Court Tennis Shoes. These are usually recommended for hard courts and artificial grass. The outsoles combine the benefits of All Court and Grass Court shoes.
- Clay Court Tennis Shoes. Clay shoes typically have a full herringbone pattern underneath. They are very effective for sliding and maneuvering on artificial and genuine clay surfaces. You can also use them on hard courts.
Tennis shoes are specialized, and we trust that this guide will offer the support you require in determining your answer.
Marko Rakic is a trail runner and fitness enthusiast from Sydney, Australia. He is the lead writer for The Ultimate Primate and believes the best way to live a happy life is to take a holistic approach to fitness and health.