What Are Cross-Training Shoes? (And How They Compare To Running Shoes)

With several different styles on the market, finding the right shoe to match your needs can prove to be a difficult task.

Most people might think it is acceptable to use a standard running shoe for all types of athletic situations, but this may not be the wisest decision.

Instead, cross-training shoes—which are often mistaken for running shoes—may be a safer option for you.

Interestingly enough, cross-training shoes have the versatility of use that is often associated with running shoes.

If you’re someone who frequently takes part in physical activities, it may be time to assess your shoe needs and learn more about cross training shoes. 

Why Use Cross-Training Shoes?

Being well prepared is an excellent approach to all types of physical training.

Mental preparation is one thing, but ensuring you have the proper equipment to get the most out of your training is a must.

The proper pair of shoes is perhaps the most vital piece of training equipment, as it keeps your feet and joints in excellent shape.

The right shoes can vary depending on what you’re using them for and the type of training you enjoy.

There are two types of typical shoes found in retail stores: running shoes and cross-training shoes. 

Cross-training shoes exist in relative obscurity, which is unfortunate because many physically active individuals can benefit from these shoes.

Simply put, cross-training shoes are made for their versatility. 

No other shoe offers quite the same flexibility as a cross-training shoe.

Think of these shoes as a hybrid model. Instead of sticking to one area of expertise, cross-training shoes facilitate a large number of exercises.  

A True Hybrid Product

By combining the best aspects of other types of shoes, cross-training shoes inhibit a maximum range of movements.

It is common to see cross-training shoes combine the heel support of a running shoe, a volleyball shoe’s cushioning, and the ease of lateral movement that a tennis shoe would bring.

Think of cross-training shoes as Frankenstein’s monster of athletic shoes. 

The benefit of opting for cross-training shoes only begins at actively playing sports. As the name would suggest, these shoes are great for training.

In particular, they offer excellent stability and ankle support for weightlifters. Cross-training shoes will anchor you firmly to the ground while also providing motion flexibility.

This combination of stability and agility once again proves that these shoes have mastered versatility. 

Plus, cross-training shoes are ideal for court-based sports because these shoes absorb shock.

Individuals who partake in court-based sports encounter frequent stop-start motions and need a shoe to offer stellar support. 

Due to the shock absorbance and spongy quality of cross-training shoes, you can perform these actions without worrying about rolling an ankle.

Executing similar movements with running shoes can often lead to injuries such as ankle rolls. 

How Do Cross-Training Shoes Differ From Running Shoes?

We now know that cross-training shoes are excellent for low-impact workouts and sports that require proper shock absorption, thanks to the cushion on the balls of the feet. 

Still, if running shoes are more common, why can’t you use them for all types of exercises instead of getting cross-trainers? 

Although running shoes provide fantastic comfort and are ideal for long-distance runs, their lack of support and mobility is concerning. 

Movement Type Matters

To dissect this in more detail, we need to understand the difference between forward and lateral movement. 

Forward movement alone, often found in activities like long-distance running, uses distinct muscles like the Achilles tendon. Lateral, or side-to-side, movement utilizes separate muscles, especially in the ankle. 

For the most part, long-distance running occurs in a straight line.

There may be some soft turns, but individuals usually move in a repeated forward motion when running on pavement or a treadmill.

As such, running shoes are designed to protect your feet when your steps are hitting the pavement over and over in the same way. The key factors needed are heel support and comfort. 

In other sports and activities, the foot motion is much more diverse, using both forward, backward, and lateral movements.

To accommodate these motions, the cross training shoe design focuses on ankle support and overall stability.

Cross-training shoes have wider soles, which equates to stable footing. Stability in every direction, lateral or otherwise, is essential when taking part in most physical activities. 

Many athletes who perform on areas like a court make rapid, sharp lateral turns that could lead to injury without the appropriate support found in cross-training shoes. 

Since you won’t find many runners who execute sharp lateral turns, running shoes give up traction and ankle support for agility and long-lasting comfort. 

It may seem like cross-trainers are an overall better shoe, but that is not necessarily the case.

While they are more versatile, they are designed with a specific purpose in mind: providing support for more extreme movements.

Running shoes are an equally viable option, but for people who want to focus exclusively on running. 

Cross-Trainers for Running

There has been much debate regarding the use of cross-training shoes for running. Even though they are versatile, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are a great option for runners. 

Cross-training shoes can be used for low-intensity running. However, you should choose running shoes for any running or jogging action performed at a high intensity.

As explained above, cross-training shoes lack the overall cushioning of running shoes. That, in addition to their ankle bulk, will lead to an uncomfortable fit for long-distance running.

If you’re looking to rack up the miles and gain as much speed as possible, cross-training shoes are not the ideal choice.

Due to running shoes’ specificity, they will always perform better than cross-training shoes when running for extended distances. 

Why Not Running Shoes?

Using running shoes for weightlifting is not recommended. Due to the added cushioning found in running shoes, anyone under the stress of added weight will sink a little.

That is also known as compression. The last thing you want when lifting weights is your shoes to compress, shift in nature, and disturb your balance.

Cross trainers are equally as comfortable. However, they place the majority of cushioning in the forefoot. 

Thanks to the cushioning found primarily in the toes, the shifting of weight when lifting does not disturb your balance. Feet remain firm regardless of added weight.

Go ahead and squat with ease. 

When analyzing the difference between the two shoe types, you must also consider material. Cross training shoes have sturdier materials.

They must be able to endure activities such as weightlifting, cycling, and sports. Thus rigid material is used.

That comes at the cost of being slightly heavier; however, they will undoubtedly last longer than running shoes. 

It all comes back to versatility. Cross-training shoes are made for multiple activities, while running shoes remain king in just one.

If you’re someone who partakes in a variety of exercising, the choice is clear. If you enjoy running and can afford two pairs, then opting for both is the safe play.

That will maximize comfort and long term health

Getting the Most Out of Your Cross-Training Shoes

To make the most of your cross-training shoes, you must partake in a balanced routine.

Runners may be thinking that they do not need a pair of cross-training shoes because they do not partake in other physical activities.

The truth remains, runners have a lot to gain from a balanced routine.

Studies have shown that runners who implement plyometric exercises twice a week improve their overall health and running performance.

A mix of activities can improve your running time and endurance quicker than a strict running diet would. A routine of exclusive running can quickly become monotonous.

Cross-training can boost power, endurance, and speed, all while using less energy. 

For those looking to implement cross-training into their workout routines, purchasing cross-training shoes are of great importance.

As previously mentioned, running shoes perform poorly during cross-training activities. 

Identifying the Right Shoes For You

So, how does one go about choosing new cross training shoes? 

reebok running shoes

Look for a flexible toe area. As previously mentioned, the toe area is one of the few padded areas on a cross-training shoe, so you must test its flexibility.

It would help if you also analyzed ankle support and grip. With all of the movement changes during training or sports, ensure that the shoe base has an adequate grip.

This extra support will allow for quick changes of pace. You will also want to ensure that your ankles are well protected.

Doing so can help prevent severe injuries in the future. You can check this by trying the shoes on and seeing how they fit.

They should comfortably support your ankle without being too short to cover that area. 

If you’re struggling to find a decent pair, you can always ask a trainer or physical advisor. If you frequent a gym, you can look for an expert there.

Alternatively, customer service representatives at retail stores who specialize in athletic equipment can be a huge help. 

Mention your desire to obtain cross-training shoes. They should be able to direct you to a recommended pair.

The clerk may even take into account your foot width and stride distance to suggest the ideal shoes. 

Keep in mind that cross-training shoe newcomers must be wary of wear and tear.

Knowing when to replace your cross-trainers will ensure that you’re exercising at full capacity until they are deemed unfit to use.

Typically, these types of shoes can support an impressive 100 hours of wear. That also depends on the intensity of your workouts.

The more frequent and heavy the exercises, the sooner you’ll need to replace your shoes. Don’t forget to keep an eye on them every five months.

Cross-Training Shoes Keep Doors Open 

Cross training shoes combine the best aspects of every known type of shoe.

These shoes are indeed the kings of versatility and are ideal for people who do not appreciate being placed in a box. 

If you enjoy participating in various sports and physical activities, consider a cross training shoe, so you don’t have to purchase individual shoes for each specific sport. 

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