If you only occasionally step onto the treadmill for a run, your normal outdoor shoes will do. However, if treadmill running is part of your regular routine, it makes sense to get a pair specific to the task. Cross trainers may support a warm-up mile before your weight-training workout, but if you run regularly for any distance, those shoes could lead to injury.
Because most treadmills provide you with a lot of cushioning via the belt, you don't need as much in your shoes as you might out on pavement. Pick a shoe that's lightweight and flexible, and, of course, one that fits your particular foot.
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Choose a shoe that matches your particular foot, regardless of whether you're running on a treadmill or outside. Have your gait analyzed by a running store — many offer this service for free — to determine if you overpronate, meaning your feet rolls inward, or supinate, meaning your feet turn out.
Another way to check your gait is to analyze a barefoot image of your foot. Step into a puddle of water, without shoes, and make an imprint on the ground. Alternatively, use washable ink and step onto a piece of white paper.
If you see most of your foot's sole, you likely have flat feet and need a stability shoe. If only a sliver of the side of your foot is visible, you have high arches and need a shoe built for supinators. A foot imprint somewhat in between is neutral, and you'll do well with a neutral running shoe.
Shoe manufacturers structure their models to fit these various running patterns, as well as to support neutral runners. Wear the wrong shoe for your foot and you risk injury, including knee pain, Achilles tendinitis, and hip issues.
The spring of a treadmill belt is one of the benefits of running indoors, as it puts less stress on your joints. However, when you combine it with a super padded shoe, you lose some of the feel of your run.
You make contact with your running surface for just a fraction of a second, and you need to feel that connection to balance your muscles and stabilize your gait. If you have too much cushioning, with combined shoe and treadmill, you lose that ability and your gait changes. You may also lose a lot in terms of running economy as you wobble around on all that padding.
Once you know whether you need a shoe that provides stability or one that supports a high arch, choose a brand and model that's thin and flexible. This type of shoe enables you to feel the surface of the treadmill, so your muscles respond appropriately.
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