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What Is the Difference Between Cross-Trainer And Running Sneakers?

author image Jim Thomas
Jim Thomas has been a freelance writer since 1978. He wrote a book about professional golfers and has written magazine articles about sports, politics, legal issues, travel and business for national and Northwest publications. He received a Juris Doctor from Duke Law School and a Bachelor of Science in political science from Whitman College.
What Is the Difference Between Cross-Trainer And Running Sneakers?
Running shoes take you around the track. Photo Credit Ivanko_Brnjakovic/iStock/Getty Images

Keeping your feet in good shape and protecting your joints ensures you can continue with your workouts. Selecting the right shoe for the type of workout in which you're engaged is a critical part of your training preparation. Two types of shoes -- cross-trainers and running shoes -- share some features, but you'll need to choose the one that's best for your workout lifestyle.

What Each Supports

Cross-trainers are designed to play multiple roles. You can use them in the gym for almost any activity — lifting weights, using the elliptical machine, stretching, playing basketball or dancing in a Zumba workout. Running shoes are specifically designed for people who pound the pavement, the track or the trail.

While cross-training shoes provide cushioning, running shoes are specifically designed to protect your feet from impact with the ground. Regular runners shouldn't use cross-training shoes for runs longer than about 3 to 5 miles. They simply don't provide enough cushioning and support, whether you are running outside or inside on a treadmill. Using a cross-trainer for running leaves you susceptible to foot, knee and back injuries.

How They Feel On Your Feet

Running shoes, as you might guess, are lighter than cross-trainers. This feature makes it easier to run, especially when you're piling up the miles. If you walk regularly, use a running shoe or walking shoe for that purpose as well.

The heavier weight of the cross-trainer provides extra durability and control to support lateral movements, however, in kick boxing, circuit or dance workouts.

Differences To Look For

The sole of a cross-trainer is wide and stable, often expanding beyond the width of the upper part of the shoe. This width provides more support for lateral movements, such as the sharp cuts and lateral movements that are standard on the basketball court or a dance class.

The tread on road running shoes is smooth, which provides less traction than the nubbier tread on cross trainers. But, because runners are essentially moving straight ahead, traction is rarely an issue.

Finding The Right Shoe

Runners in particular require shoes that can be fitted for the particular shape of their foot and their gait. Models of running shoes are designed for people who overpronate, rolling their feet inward when they stride, or underpronators who generally have flat feet. Going the distance in cross trainers is a definite recipe for injury as they're not designed for such action.

You don't want to run hundreds of miles in shoes that don't support your feet properly. Try any shoe on before buying, and, if you're running long distances, have an expert fit you to the right shoe after observing your movement.

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