Published on: 07/15/2022
Last updated on: 01/03/2023
In a hurry? Go directly to the top 7.
It’s safe to assume that aspiring runners never dreamt of dominating the treadmill. More likely young athletes wanted to get outside and run around the block or take a jog in a beautiful park. Life and mother nature often has different plans for everyone, including runners. Running outdoors isn’t always as easy to do as it sounds.
The treadmill is a revelation if you’re in a hotel next to a highway and have twenty minutes to work out. Maybe you just had a child, and you literally can’t leave the house for even a few minutes. If it’s bitterly cold, swelteringly hot, or sleeting sideways outside, you’d probably give anything for a treadmill to get that burst of adrenaline without the bad weather.
For the above reasons and many more, there’s no doubt that treadmills have their place in this world. So what do we do now with this knowledge? What do I need to do differently when using a treadmill regularly? Can I wear the same shoes I usually wear or do I need special treadmill running shoes?
There’s no need to be overwhelmed by any of these questions. We’re here to assist with a guide to selecting the right shoes for you. We’ve also compiled a list of the top 7 treadmill running shoes you can buy now.
In a perfect world, we could try on every shoe to give the best possible advice. There are many reasons why that’s not possible. Also, it would be doing a disservice due to the many types of runners out there. Every runner has different needs and anatomy.
Instead of testing every running shoe ourselves, the Runner’s Lab team analyzes the reviews from a wide range of shoe reviewers. These reviewers not only offer a wealth of information regarding the pros and cons of each treadmill shoe but also many perspectives. This allows us to give the most balanced consensus and overall score.
For example, a runner with strong arches may find a particular shoe perfect in every way. Then someone with flat feet reviews them as entirely unacceptable. The same differences can happen based on foot width, body weight, and personal preference. Since we know these differences will arise, the goal is to ingest all of the information and make conclusions once we determine if some reviews are outliers or if it fits a pattern.
Beyond the aggregation, we also go an extra step to bounce the reviews against actual scientific research evidence. This way, we can justify all claims to the best of our ability.
Our Selection of the Best Treadmill Running Shoes of 2023
|Shoe||Heel height||Drop||Weight||Cushioning||Best for||Best offer|
|Brooks Ghost 14||31 mm||12 mm||10 oz/283 g||Soft||Overall comfort||Check prices →|
|Hoka One One Clifton 8||29 mm||5 mm||8.8 oz/250 g||Soft||Smooth ride||Check Prices →|
|Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38||28 mm||10 mm||9 oz/255 g||Balanced||Breathability||Check Prices →|
|Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22||30 mm||12 mm||10.2 oz/289 g||Soft||Comfortable support||Check Prices →|
|Mizuno Wave Rider 25||32 mm||12 mm||9.5 oz/270 g||Balanced||Reliability||Check Prices →|
|New Balance 860 v12||34 mm||10 mm||10.6 oz/301 g||Firm||Stable and firm ride||Check Prices →|
|Asics Gel Kayano 28||23 mm||10 mm||10.8 oz/305 g||Soft||Extra support||Check Prices →|
1. Brooks Ghost 14: The most comfortable running shoes
Stack: 31 mm (back), 19 mm (forefoot)
Heel-to-toe drop: 12 mm
Weight: 10 oz (men), 8.8 oz (women)
Cushioning: soft and secure
The Ghost 14 by Brooks Running is an all-around great shoe that excels in comfort. This is especially true when it comes to its performance on the treadmill. Landings with the Ghost 14 are as soft as possible, thanks to the DNA LOFT cushioning. The DNA LOFT technology is a divine combination of EVA foam, air, and rubber.
This updated version of the Ghost is not only one of the first carbon-neutral running shoes ever, but it also comes with an improved ride compared to earlier versions and the competition. A segmented crash pad makes for a seamless switch from landing to toe-off.
3D Fit Print technology created the mesh upper to allow for adaptability, lightness, and breathability.
The only drawbacks mentioned by reviewers are that the lockdown could be improved, especially for overpronators, and it’s not the most ideal for long distances.
Overall this is a great running shoe for a neutral runner at any level on all types of terrain for everyday usage.
2. Hoka Clifton 8: The smoothest ride
Stack: 29 mm (heel), 24 mm (forefoot)
Heel-to-toe drop: 5 mm
Weight: Men 8.8 oz, Women 7.6 oz
Cushioning: highly cushioned and energetic
The Hoka One One Clifton 8 is a brilliant combination of a light running shoe that is also highly cushioned. This will be an optimal shoe choice for anyone looking for a smooth ride.
The upper is breathable mesh with additional layers to add to the stability. Reviewers mentioned that the stability could still be improved upon. The upper is also a bit roomy, excellent for average to wide feet but not so much for those with thin feet.
Where the Hoka One One Clifton 8 shines is in the midsole. This midsole has a lot going on, and every element adds to the comfortable, smooth ride. The active rocker, extended crash pad, and EVA foam make for even transitions and plush landings.
As a bonus, testers agreed that the Clifton is also an outstanding choice if you plan on incorporating some walking into your workout. Speedy runs or a slower pace? The Clifton has you covered.
3. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39: the most breathable treadmill running shoes
Stack: 28 mm (rear), 18 mm (front)
Heel-to-toe drop: 10 mm
Weight: 9 oz (men’s), 7.8 oz (women’s)
Cushioning: Bouncy combo of React Foam and Zoom Air Unit
These Nike shoes are one of the most versatile on this list. Reviewers applauded their performance on daily runs, tempo runs, or general gym sessions. The Air Zoom Pegasus is a solid shoe choice for someone with a range of fitness goals.
The Pegasus is the right amount of light, durable, comfortable, and sturdy for treadmill running and outdoor running. The ride is bouncy, mingling the React foam and Zoom Air unit in the midsole. The only slight ding on the Pegasus mentioned by critics is that Nike could improve the responsiveness.
The star feature of the Air Zoom Pegasus is the breathable mesh upper. It’s light, stretchy, and roomy with exceptional airflow. The midfoot webbing works with the tongue and laces to lock the foot down with authority.
4. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22: Most balanced and best for flat feet
Stack: 30 mm (rearfoot), 18 mm (forefoot)
Heel-to-toe drop: 12 mm
Weight: Men 10.2 oz, Women 8.8 oz
Cushioning: Balance of comfort and security
The Brooks Adrenaline GTS series has been a favorite stability shoe for over two decades. The Adrenaline 22 continues to build on that solid history. These stability shoes offer support and the perfect balance.
The Adrenaline GTS utilizes GuideRails to minimize movement, allowing the runner to stay in their rhythm. This is especially helpful when discussing shoes for the treadmill. Also, this type of stability features are relatively discreet (there’s no media post), making them suitable for runners with high arches who tend to supinate.
The only downside to all that stability is the extra weight. The Adrenaline could be lighter and is not ideal for fast runs. Otherwise, this is an excellent Brooks shoe. Like the Brooks Ghost, it also features DNA LOFT cushioning, a segmented crash pad, and a 3D Fit Print upper. The Adrenaline is a great idea for overpronators or those with flat feet.
5. Mizuno Wave Rider 25: Most reliable daily trainer
Stack: 32 mm (rear), 20 mm (front)
Heel-to-toe drop: 12 mm
Weight: Men 9.5 oz, Women 7.9 oz
Ride: Soft and springy
The Mizuno Wave Rider 25 is a reliable and durable shoe that seems like it was made specifically for running on a treadmill. It features a redesigned wave plate that keeps the foot stable while making all the repetitive steps.
The midsole is Enerzy foam which cushions with softness and energy return. The upper is thin and breathable regardless of the material (option of a mesh or knit upper). Mizuno achieved their goal of making a soft running shoe while not sacrificing stability.
While durability was a criticism of previous Wave Riders, the 25 has an improved rubber outsole. The limited drawbacks to the Wave Rider are the relatively high drop and some reviewers questioning the shoe’s attractiveness.
6. New Balance 860 V12: Most stable treadmill shoes
Stack: 34 mm (rearfoot), 24 mm (forefoot)
Drop: 10 mm
Weight: Men 11.4 oz, Women 8.9 oz
Cushioning: Fresh Foam energetic bounce
The New Balance 860 V12 is a running shoe with stability at the forefront. This stability shoe is a fantastic option for anyone who needs extra support for their treadmill workouts.
These shoes fit like a glove due to a double jacquard upper and strategic embroidery for additional bolstering. The midsole is Fresh Foam which is light but offers firm arch support for runners who need it. The fusion of the upper and the foam help cut down on overpronation.
The only downside to these stylish shoes is that the firmness can be too much on longer runs.
7. Asics Gel Kayano 28: The most supportive running shoe
Stack: 23 mm (heel), 13 mm (forefoot)
Drop: 10 mm
Weight: Men 10.8 oz, Women 9 oz
Cushioning: Comfortable and stable
The Asics Gel Kayano 28 is an absolute beast when it comes to supporting and shock absorption. When searching for a treadmill running shoe, those are some of the most critical factors. How does Asics achieve these results?
The midsole’s gel and FlyteFoam Blast cushioning form a glorious union to increase shock absorption, responsiveness, and security. Asics also takes things up a notch by including their powerful Dynamic DuoMax Support System. This midsole technology adds stability and aims to ward off overpronation.
Regarding the upper, testers were impressed with the lockdown and breathability of the mesh. Though it’s not as integral for treadmill running shoes, the Kayano also has the highly rated and durable AHAR+ rubber outsole.
The only sad trombone is that some extra weight comes with all this support and stability. Additionally, even though the new foam is an improvement, some reviewers would like to see increased responsiveness.
- Brooks Glycerin 19
- Hoka One One Mach 4
- New Balance Fresh Foam 880 V11
- adidas UltraBOOST 22
How to Pick the Perfect Pair of Treadmill Running Shoes
Running on a treadmill is very similar to running on pavement (1). However, there are differences. Aside from the noticeable difference you’re running inside while on a treadmill, the next biggest difference is the repetition. When participating in outdoor running, you constantly run on uneven surfaces, adjusting to avoid obstacles and alternating speeds.
On the other hand, running on a treadmill will have you running on a softer surface with the same repetitive motion. You’ll land on the same spot with every step, and the balls of the feet often take a pounding if you’re not careful. This repetitive motion can lead to shin splints and problems with your feet, hips, and knee.
Factors to consider when selecting the best running shoes for use on a treadmill are cushioning, the weight of the shoes, support, and breathability.
Running on a treadmill has the effect of essentially slamming your feet into the treadmill belt over and over. Due to how we run, the balls of the feet are often the landing spot. The first point of order when selecting a pair of treadmill running shoes is finding sufficient cushioning for shock absorption for the balls of the feet.
Depending on personal preference and shoe brands, there are many ways to find this extra cushioning. The latest trends skew toward using various types of foam-based cushion technology like DNA Loft Cushioning, EVA foam midsole, FlyteFoam Blast, and Fresh Foam. All the shoes mentioned above use some foam in their construction, and some incorporate gel, air, and rubber.
Many runners agree that less cushioning when running on a treadmill is not a desirable feature. If you subscribe to barefoot or minimalist running techniques, you may want to adjust your beliefs when running on a treadmill.
You also don’t want to go too overboard with the cushion, or you won’t be able to feel the damage you might be doing while plodding along. The best running shoes on a treadmill have the right balance between high cushion and lightweight.
Speaking of lightweight, that’s one of the key features that should receive priority when selecting from the best treadmill running shoes. When choosing trail or road running shoes, there are reasons why you may want a heavier shoe. A few examples are extra rubber outsole for durability or treads for rugged terrain.
You don’t have these factors on the treadmill, so lightness becomes more important. You will want to go as light as possible while allowing maximum comfort, cushion, and support.
The main things you typically consider when considering support in a running shoe still apply even though you’re not likely to have a lot of excess movement. You still want a secure fit, plenty of space in the toe box, and a stable platform. The right shoe selection will keep your foot secure for any treadmill workout.
Sweat, odor, and keeping dry may not seem like the most important factors when picking out shoes for the treadmill, but they certainly are. Your treadmill is most likely in a gym or small room of your house with questionable airflow. In this case, breathability goes hand in hand with the shoe’s weight. The best running shoes for the treadmill will have a light mesh upper.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Treadmills are typically easier on shoes as compared to running outdoors.
Yes, but make sure you choose a shoe with proper cushioning. The best running shoes for a treadmill are highly cushioned, light, and account for repetitive motion.
All the shoes mentioned above are available for all genders. There can be differences in the men’s and women’s models, but nothing that would change Runner’s Lab recommendations in this case.
While it is tempting to use your regular running shoes for everything (training, races, outdoor, treadmill), it’s worth your time to evaluate whether a pair of treadmill-specific shoes makes sense for you. Your body will thank you for it.
Looking for shoes to hit the road? Check our selection of the best running shoes.
Is Motorized Treadmill Running Biomechanically Comparable to Overground Running? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Cross-Over Studies
Van Hooren et al. (2020)
Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.)