The treadmill is an incredibly popular form of exercise that’s used the world over by people looking to meet their health and fitness goals. Simple and easy to use, but flexible enough that it can be used by literally anyone no matter their current state of fitness.
But one of the issues with treadmills is that, longer term, they can lead to aches and pains, especially if you’re walking longer distances. One of the simplest ways of dealing with this is with the right set of footwear.
Which is why we’ve written this guide, broken down into the 5 best treadmill shoes for men and women.
Best Treadmill Shoes for Men
Under Armour Charged Assert 8
The single best treadmill shoe we’ve found for men, these sneakers by fitness professionals Under Armour offer everything a serious walker is looking for.
The textile upper is light and flexible, keeping the shoe breathable and comfortable even after several hours of wear. Leather overlays keep the shoe locked to your foot, preventing unnecessary wear and flex in the all important mid-foot. The sole is a light synthetic compression moulded foam rather than rubber, keeping the weight down and striking a balance between flexibility and cushioning.
These shoes are available in literally dozens of color options, and size naturally. They do run a little wider on average, but that’s a relatively minor issue that most people won’t notice, and for the price they’re incredibly sturdy and sure to last.
All in all, these are simply a solid set of running shoes that are perfect for treadmills, and strong enough to be worn as a general training shoe.
ASICS Gel Excite 4
If you struggle with aching feet when you walk, then the thick, reinforced and strong sole of the ASICS Gel Excite 4s offers a huge amount of support and comfort.
The upper is a light and breathable synthetic frame that keeps the shoe flexible. The main draw here are the soles, which use the ASICS signature gel cushioning technology to massively cut down on the impacts that you feel.
The heavy gel cushion in the heel is perfect if you have a natural heel striking gait, with further supplementary support in the front half, especially around the toe.
These sneakers also come with a removable sock liner that takes orthotic inserts as standard, reinforcing the fact that they’re built around comfort and support.
They’re light and comfortable enough for a full day’s walk, but ASICS also built these with a high abrasion rubber outsole that’s reinforced in the key impact areas, so despite being a lighter sneaker, they are tough and hard wearing, and sure to last.
Brooks Ghost 12
The Brooks Ghost is designed around one thing. Being as soft and comfortable as possible while reducing profile and weight, and it delivers on that promise.
They’re a neutral runner, offering a lightweight and balanced shoe that’s suitable for most walking styles and gaits. The soles are soft and flexible, with DNA loft conditioning and a segmented crash pad sole design that absorbs all of the impact through heel to toe while staying flexible and promoting a natural step pattern.
Ultra lightweight at just 10.4oz, but cushioned, the shoes are balanced across a 3D fit mesh system that hugs the structure of your feet, stretching where you flex and clinging close for support in the important places. In particular, arch support is noted to be fantastic, especially if you have supinated feet (feet that turn outwards as you walk.)
Nike Downshifter 9
Nike are a sneaker staple, and the Downshifter 9 continues their impressive heritage, delivering a light and comfortable shoe that makes our list because of its comfortable fit and solid, reliable design.
The textile and synthetic upper is flexible and strong, hugging close to your feet, considering that these are designed for running as well as walking. A breathable front mesh keeps your feet light and airy, with a closer, closed mesh in the midfoot and heel that keeps everything supported.
The sole is synthetic, with a textured, flattened outsole that adds grip and structure. Light and comfortable, the main issue with these shoes, and the reason that they’re lower on our list, is that they don’t tend to last as long as comparable options.
But if you’re using these exclusively for indoor treadmill walking, we don’t see that being a major problem.
If you’re a walker, there’s a good chance you’re interested in sustainable and environmentally friendly products and your impact on the world. If that’s the case, then Adidas’s Energy Falcons can give you the support you need and help you feel good into the bargain.
This is because the 100% textile upper is made from fully sustainable cotton sources, and the rubber of the sole is made from as much recycled content as possible.
The shoe itself is built around a strong, supportive moulded heel that offers a lot of tendon support, with extra mid-foot support panelling and a cloudfoam insert that adds a massive amount of stability and cushioning.
The biggest downside is that these sneakers just aren’t durable. They’re incredibly comfortable, flexible, and light, but that lends itself to a shoe that’s a little more fragile than we’d like, and tends to wear down at the toes and the sidewalls where your feet meet the fabric.
But if that doesn’t bother you, or you’re only planning on light walking, then these are a fantastic choice.
Best Treadmill Shoes for Women
Adidas Cloudfoam Pure Running Shoe
Ultra light and comfortable, the Cloudfoam Pure was originally designed as a running shoe, and in all truth, we don’t like it so much for that. But as a walking shoe, it’s incredibly impressive, for all of the same reasons that it should have been such a good running option.
For starters, they are incredibly light and comfortable, with a 100% synthetic upper and a cushioned rubber sole that hugs your feet and moves with you. Mid sole cushioning and a cloudfoam memory sockliner offer up support where it’s needed, and lets your feet flex and breathe everywhere else.
They’re available in dozens of colors, so you’re sure to find something that fits your style, and even better, everything is animal safe, so these are also absolutely vegan friendly.
The one real downside is that we wouldn’t recommend taking these outside for anything more than a gentle walk, because they just don’t last. The same aspects that make them super comfortable and soft also means that these sneakers wear faster than others.
But as long as you look after them and only use them for walking rather than running, you’re buying a fantastic set of sneakers that deliver everything you need.
New Balance FuelCore Nergize
Chosen for their comfort and support, these sneakers by New Balance are super soft and super comfortable, even after a long day’s hard work.
With a 100% synthetic upper that’s incredibly light and breathable, and a soft and flexible rubber sole, these boot style sneakers feel great on your feet, hugging and flexing as you move. The supportive and mobile REVlite midsole moves with your natural gait, and extra cushioning adds support throughout the whole day.
Compared to our top pick, these are a much tougher, more supportive sneaker. They’re far more suited as a general shoe that can be used for jogging and long walks as well as treadmill walking.
They also come in more than thirty different styles, making it simple to match your taste, and exercise gear.
Zhuangling Aqua Water Shoes
The best budget shoe on our list, these shoes serve double duty. They’re awesome for treadmill work, and they’re just as good if you need a light, quick drying shoe for beach running or walking by the pool.
Just because they are aggressively priced doesn’t mean that you’re not getting a decent product. The 90% fabric upper is packed full of air mesh, keeping it light and flexible. That lends itself to fantastic breathability, which is awesome when you’re walking indoors or in hot, stuffy summer days.
The rubber sole is flexible and comfortable, with extra outsole grip that’s designed for fluid grip, and adds a lot of extra support. ComforDry sockliners add a lot of stability to the Solyte midsole, which has a huge amount of bounce back.
We absolutely wouldn’t recommend these as a general running shoe, but everything about it makes it a perfect treadmill shoe, and that’s why it hits our list.
ASICS Gel Venture 7
A combination trail and running shoe, the Gel Venture 7 is far more of an outdoor sneaker than the rest of our list, but it’s those features that, ironically, also land it here.
The uppers are made from synthetic leather which is thick and supportive, with durable mesh patches for breathability. They are a lot heavier and denser than the other shoes on our list here, but not egregiously so, and they don’t feel bad to wear.
As it’s a trail shoe first and foremost, there’s a lot of cushioning here, with a plush tongue and collar, rearfoot GEL cushioning that supports your natural stride, and a highly resistant AHAR abrasion resistant outsole. A removable foam insole adds even more support, and the ortholite sockliner helps to manage moisture and makes it much simpler to keep these clean and dry.
If you’re not already convinced, an ASICS Gel shoe also made our men’s list, for basically the same reasons. If you’re looking for comfort and support, or you need a shoe that’s going to take you more places than just the treadmill, consider these first.
Despite being advertised as a running shoe, in our opinion, Adidas’ Fluidflow series is far more suited to being a supportive walking shoe instead.
The reason is simple. The way the support is balanced across the structure of the sneaker, with almost all of it concentrated across the sole, rather than the upper. This means that side and ankle support are minimal, so a heavy stride, like jogging, will put a lot of force on unsupported part of your feet.
However, the arch support is fantastic, flexing right across the synthetic sole and spreading the force of your stride across the whole of your step.
Breathable, light and comfortable, these come in a wide variety of colors, with a very smart, chic design.
How To Choose a Running Shoe to Walk on a Treadmill
If you’re buying sneakers specifically so you can use them for treadmill walking, then you’re going to be looking for completely different specifications than you would if you wanted an outside running shoe. Here’s what you should be looking for if when you’re buying shoes for your running deck.
In general, for training shoes, a lighter weight shoe is much better. You’re running on a treadmill, so a light shoe is less likely to be damaged, and you don’t need as much support as you’re running on a softer surface that doesn’t put as much strain on your body as concrete or tarmac.
This can be a good thing, as it reduces the amount of strain on your legs and feet. But it also means that shoes suitable for walking on a treadmill tend to be light and airy, with a thinner sole and less support overall.
Cushioning and support
As we’ve just mentioned, because a treadmill is a lighter and softer running surface than concrete or road tarmac, you don’t need to buy shoes that have as much cushioning as you otherwise would.
A walking stride puts most of the pressure on the balls of your feet, so look for a shoe with a thick and solid sole, and possibly adjustable insoles and heavier ankle support.
You should also find a shoe that has good insole padding, as this will take the pressure off of the softer parts of your feet, and if you need it, specialist arch support.
Not running outside means no natural airflow over your feet, which will increase the temperature of your feet and make them sweat far more than they otherwise would.
Because most of the shoes in our list are light, they’re naturally more breathable than other options, although it’s also worth looking for shoes that have venting or other air flow aids built into them.
The fit and comfort
Your steps on a treadmill are going to be more controlled and repetitive, so it’s especially important to make sure that your shoes fit properly and your walking motion is correct, to prevent injury.
Buying online adds another layer of difficulty, as you can’t test your shoes before you wear them to make sure that they fit. You should have decent space in the toe box, and room to flex your feet when you walk.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you run on a treadmill with standard running shoes?
Absolutely. Most running shoes should be suitable for treadmill use, as long as those shoes fit a few easy guidelines:
- One, your running shoes are designed for the road, not trails. Anything with heavy lugs or crampons aren’t designed for treadmills.
- Two, your shoes are light, breathable and comfortable for long periods of wear.
- Three, you’re only using running shoes occasionally, for example, if your regular treadmill shoes are drying after being cleaned.
Can I use my treadmill shoes for anything else?
Yes. The light weight and cushioning of most treadmill running shoes also makes them suitable for other types of exercise. If you’re running through a weight regime or bodyweight exercises at home, then you can wear your running shoes for extra support.
When do you need to replace running shoes?
Common wisdom states that you should replace a walking or running shoes around every 450 to 550 miles. However, if you’re exclusively using your shoes to train on your treadmill, then you might not need to replace them quite so quickly as they might not wear out so fast.
Make sure to check your shoes regularly for excessive wear, especially around the soles, which have a tendency to peel away when long distance walking.
Can I walk on my treadmill barefoot?
We would advise against it. It’s not recommended to walk on your treadmill with bare feet, because most treadmills are designed around using them with shoes, and the running deck is specifically sprung and supported with this in mind.