Footwear - Runner vs. Trainer - Podiatrist Advice

Blog 2: Footwear mini-series: Volume 2: Runner vs Cross trainer?

Runner vs. Cross trainer

One common issue I come across in our clinic is the confusion between whether someone should be wearing a runner or a cross trainer.  So let’s first look at the design of a runner and the design of a cross trainer.

Design of a runner

A runner is designed to do the following:


  • Protect the foot
  • Provide cushioning
  • Provide support
  • Provide structure


Runners are designed to provide all the above when the individual is moving in a straight line, such as walking, running or jogging.

Design of a cross trainer

A cross trainer does all the things a runner does but the difference is that cross trainers are best for activities where side to side movement is involved, for example in netball, basketball, tennis and gym classes etc.

The structure of a cross trainer is different to a runner:


  • The midsole is denser than a runner and decreases torsion in the midfoot.
  • Heel height is often less, therefore a cross trainer will allow you to ‘feel the ground’ and decrease your risk of ankle sprains.
  • The upper is usually made from a mixture of mesh and leather which further provides support for side to side movement.
  • The outsole offers great traction and protection against excessive wear.


In short, the cross trainer is an all-rounder.  However you wouldn’t wear a cross trainer if you were playing a game of soccer.

So does that mean I need a different pair of shoes for every sport?

When it comes to sports such as tennis, soccer, football, hockey and golf YES, it is best to use the shoe designed specifically for that sport.  Football/soccer/hockey and golf shoes all have cleats which make your performance a lot better and also reduce your risk of injury on those surfaces.  But if you play netball, basketball and indoor soccer, runner, the cross trainer is the right shoe for you.

Need more advice on which shoes will give you the support you need?  Call us today on (03) 9457 2336

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