Difference Between Sneakers and Running Shoes (2023)

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When you go to a sport shop for your preferred athletic shoe you come across different options. They all have their different purposes. A professional sportsman can easily identify what’s good for his feet.

However, It is kinda tough for a beginner to choose what to wear especially between sneakers and running shoes. They have such slight dissimilarities that it is initially hard for a newbie to make a difference between sneakers and running shoes.

Don’t worry. That’s why we are here. We will give you all the information to make a clear judgment on what to buy.

Athletic Shoes (History)

Difference Between Sneakers and Running Shoes (1)

Athletic shoes became universal in the 1950’s. This type of footwear was invented for functionality, comfort and to boost athletic execution. As customary footwear itself, athletic shoes fall into the accompanying classifications: running/jogging/strolling, winter, court, field, outdoor sports, field and track, and specialty shoes (i.e. weightlifting, water, gymnastics and so forth.)

At the beginning of the 19th century, recreational games became a popular norm due to the increased leisure time of mass people. Start of the modern Olympics was another reason for the mass popularisation of sports and sports shoes.

From 1873 Canvas shoes started to go by the term sneaker in the west and in British English trainers. Rubber-soled shoes were first incorporated in 1893. These types of footwear revolutionised the game industry.

However, It was not until the start of the 20th century that large shoe companies started to produce athletic footwear promptly accessible to the general public. The first generation great sports shoemakers, i.e. the dassler brothers (who later divided into popular PUMA Inc and Adidas, Inc),Leon Leonwood bean, Joseph W. Foster for Reebok, and Marquis Converse, emerged at this time.

As beginner sportsmen became experts, they impacted the development of sports and athletic shoes.

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What are Sneaker Shoes

Difference Between Sneakers and Running Shoes (2)
(Video) Running Shoes vs Walking Shoes

Sneakers go by many names, i,e, gym shoes, casual shoes, training shoes even sometimes tennis shoes. Though the footwear is made to support you in your athletic activities, it is also somewhat considered a fashion statement.

Some even came up with a theory that it is a slang term. But there is hardly any evidence of it.

Since you can stay on your legs the whole day wearing these types of shoes, they are considered the best sort of casual wear. But what are sneakers?

Well, according to the Oxford dictionary, sneakers are the type of shoe that are made out of synthetic materials worn in sports or used in a casual manner.

What are Running Shoes

Difference Between Sneakers and Running Shoes (3)

Generally speaking, footwear worn by athletes who are associated with running or jogging is running shoes. The shoe manufacturers made them in such a way that they provide lateral support to the wearer.

The shoe is lightweight so the runner doesn’t have any problem maneuvering in it. On top of it the running shoes can absorb a lot of shock just in case if you frequently run outdoors.

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What is the Difference between Sneakers and Running shoes

Difference Between Sneakers and Running Shoes (4)

Initially if you look at both the shoes you don’t find any difference. They almost look alike. Both are comfortable on the feet and lightweight. People often wear sports shoes as casual wear.

Sportsman Christiano Ronaldo for example frequently wears athletic wear as a fashion statement and sneakers for jogging.

So is there really any difference between the two? Let me give you a quick comparison of sneakers vs running shoes.

After reading the whole explanation, you can be the judge of that.



The main differences between runners and sneakers are in their performance. Sneakers are made to be more of a casual wear. Wearing sneakers you can casually walk around the town. That is to say it doesn’t mean you can’t do any sort of sporty event wearing them.

Manufacturer made these shoes designed for multipurpose events. Let me tell you my experience. At school sports events for continuous 10 years I have been wearing sneakers without facing any problem.

That is to say, they are not meant to last long if you use it like this on a frequent basis. And by that I mean 5 to 6 hour training sessions everyday. You can use it at the gym or do weight lifting a couple of days a week. That’s about it.

The synthetic fabrics though eye catchy, makes the footwear less durable than specialised athletic shoes.

On the other hand running shoes serve your needs while running. They are designed to give you greater forward movement, cushioning to absorb shock and provide comfort while walking/running/jogging.

Another thing worth mentioning here is that sneakers are good for side to side movements which you won’t get in running shoes. Running shoes are made for forward movements. So if you are a tennis or volleyball player, this shoe won’t give you much utility.

Rubber Soles

Now let’s talk about soles, the main thing people get confused about. Though it is somewhat justifiable. Both the sneaker and running shoe have rubber soles. So sometimes people think that it is wise to buy casual sneakers as continuous athletic wear.

But that is where they are wrong. Though rubber both have slight differences. What sneakers have is what we call soft soles. They are doable for casual runners but if you run everyday then you will put a lot of stress on your feet.

Because while running outdoors you make a lot of heel to toe movement on a hard surface. So you need hard support rather than a flexible sole. Which you will get on running shoes.

Shoe manufacturers kept that in mind while making running shoes. These types of footwear have hard soles that assist in heel to toe movement. The heel drop ( distance from toe to heal) in running shoes is wider due to extra cushioning.

So, even though both have rubber soles, the mechanism is different here. The rubber sole of sneakers gives you less support while running on hard surfaces. But on a soft surface it can last for about a year or more depending on how frequently you use them.


Cushioning is one thing you need the most of while playing any sort of sport. They provide support and make sure there are no stress fractures while running.

(Video) Training Shoes Vs Running Shoes | Key Differences

Sneaker is not a specialised running shoe. So it doesn’t have extra padding for shock absorption on hard surfaces.

On the other hand a running shoe provides you extra cushioning and for women’s footwear, even more. That’s why this pair of shoes is becoming increasingly popular among runners.


Every customised sports shoe comes with a heavy price tag. Running shoe is no different on this part. It will cost more than a casual sneaker.

If you don’t plan on sticking to running for a long time, then we would recommend that you go for sneakers. The cost is less here and you can even wear it as an everyday wear.

Can Sneakers be Used for Jogging

Difference Between Sneakers and Running Shoes (5)

Now after all this discussion you might have a better clue on where and where not a sneaker is an appropriate footwear.

Still let me clarify a bit. Sneakers can be worn for jogging if you go out on a casual basis. Like 1 to 3 times a week. Mind you we are talking about outdoors here.

But if we are talking about a gym or home where you jog on a treadmill a couple of days a week, you can use them on a frequent basis. The soft materials or soft rubber soles won’t be a problem here.


Is There Any Difference between Sneakers and Joggers?

Well technically speaking, there isn’t. People refer to joggers as a counterpart of sneakers. They serve the same purpose.

Can Tennis Shoes be Used for Running?

Tennis shoes can be used for running. But it is not perfect for frequent jogs. Tennis shoes are mostly referred to as rubber shoes with rubber soles. The pair is heavy with extra cushioning for jumping.

All these components make them good for runners. But then again the same problem as sneakers. They are not appropriate for frequent outdoor runs.

What is the Difference Between Sneakers and Walking Shoes?

Generally speaking there is no difference between sneakers and walking shoes. It is used in a synonyms way.

(Video) How to choose Running shoes? Difference between Running and Walking Shoes

Though it has less cushioning than its running counterparts, the pair gives you enough comfort while taking a walk or staying on your feet most part of the day.

Can I wear running shoes for everyday use?

We don’t recommend wearing running shoes for everyday use.

Every shoe has a time limit. Whether it is canvas, sneakers or trainers. The more you use the less it’s durability becomes. If you use running shoes for running and casual use, your shoes won’t last that long.

But yes, if you use the pair only for everyday use then there won’t be an issue. Many women claim that they prefer sports shoes as everyday wear because it gives them comfort. Especially pregnant women.

Can I Run in a Bad Shoe?

Running in the wrong shoes is highly disastrous. Especially if you run for miles or want to participate in a marathon. Things can go bad really fast.

In uneven terrain you can fall down, sprint your leg, put extra pressure on the joints and what not. So it is highly recommended that you wear running shoes for long distance or frequent jogs.

Final Words

As human beings it is often tough for us to differentiate between almost similar objects. It happens to the best of us. But we have given you the differentiation after practical use.

We were the victim of making bad choices so we don’t want anyone else to suffer. So we have put together this article. However, it is true that a beginner or casual runner won’t feel any difference.

They can wear sneakers for multipurpose. But professional runners or frequent runners absolutely need running shoes. Comfort and stability is the main need for them.

So a bad shoe can cause them to lose a race or worse cause any injury that can possibly harm their future. So you must choose what you want and need. You will find many top branded sport shoes in the market. So choose wisely.


Are sneakers and running shoes the same? ›

Sneakers (also called trainers, athletic shoes, tennis shoes, gym shoes, kicks, sport shoes, flats, running shoes, or runners) are shoes primarily designed for sports or other forms of physical exercise, but which are now also widely used for everyday casual wear.

Why are shoes called sneakers? ›

The term 'sneakers' has actually been a coined term since the 1880's. The Boston Journal referred to sneakers as the word used at the time by boys to describe tennis shoes, noting how quiet the soles were on the surface. In comparison, hard leather shoes were quite noisy!

Can you run in any sneakers? ›

While some people may be accustomed to more minimal shoes, most experts recommend running shoes or sneakers. Frequently running in flat-soled shoes, like Converse, Vans, or dress shoes, may lead to soreness and pain over time.

What is considered a sneaker? ›

Athletic or casual rubber-soled shoes are called sneakers. Before you walk your neighbor's Great Dane, you'll have to take off your work shoes and put on your sneakers. You can also call sneakers tennis shoes, kicks, or running shoes, and if you're in Britain, you can call them trainers or plimsolls.

Can sneakers be used for walking? ›

The short answer to this question is yes—sneakers are excellent dedicated walking shoes.

Can you workout in sneakers? ›

“It depends on the brand and the structure of the shoe, but usually it's not recommended to wear them in a gym setting or for higher intensity activity.” TLDR: When trainers see fashion sneaks in fitness class, it makes them cringe.

Which is the best sneakers brand? ›

Answer: Some of the best and most popular sneaker brands include Nike, Adidas, Converse, Puma, FILA, Reebok, New Balance, Vans and ASICS.

What's another word for sneakers? ›

synonyms for sneakers
  • cleat.
  • footwear.
  • shoe.
  • tennis shoe.
  • footgear.
  • sneak.
  • basketball shoe.
  • gym shoe.

How many types of sneakers are there? ›

There are three main types of sneakers: low tops, high tops and mid tops – low tops cover just about everything below your ankles; high-tops start at your ankle and go up to just above your knee; mid-tops are somewhere in between. Sneakers with high or low backs provide more ankle support than those with mid-backs.

Which type of shoes are best for running? ›

"Pronation Control"

Neutral running shoes make up about 80% of running shoes. These models offer the largest selection and are best for most runners. Stability running shoes contain technology that is designed to correct overpronation.

Is it better to run barefoot or with sneakers? ›

Contrastingly, running barefoot develops the tendency to land on the balls of your feet. This creates less impact and reduce the risk of injury and stress on your body. Running in shoes allows you to automatically take longer strides. It also reduces the leg muscles work as the shoe acts as suspension.

What shoes should I wear daily? ›

The Main Types of Shoes You Should Have For Your Day-To-Day Activities Include:
  • Fall Ankle Boots/Booties – for commuting.
  • Winter Boots – for commuting.
  • Sneakers/Running shoes – for exercise/commuting.
  • The perfect work shoes — high quality, comfortable loafers, flats, sneakers, etc.
  • Sandals – for the summer!
6 Nov 2020

How do you tell if a shoe is a sneaker? ›

All authentic sneakers come with an SKU number. You can find the number on the labels inside the shoes. This number should match the one on the box. If these numbers are not identical, then there is a huge chance that you are looking at a fake pair of kicks.

When should I wear sneakers? ›

Wearing sneakers will safeguard your feet and make you feel like you are walking in the sky. However, women are confused about whether they should wear sneakers or not. It depends mainly on the kind of event that you want to attend. However, sneakers are best for meeting friends, running, and playing.

What is so special about sneakers? ›

Sneakers express individuality and personal identity more than any other fashion item. Nowadays, the sneaker can come in a variety of shapes, colors, finishes, and an unlimited amount of uses for the contemporary consumer.

Which type of shoes are good for walking? ›

Lightweight Hiking and Trail Shoes

Trail shoes have soles designed to protect your feet from rocks and give good stability and traction on natural surfaces. Trail running shoes are designed to be breathable, comfortable, and cushioned, sacrificing support and durability compared to boots.

Is it better to buy walking or running shoes? ›

Running shoes are typically more lightweight, which makes it easier to make quick movements. Walking shoes, however, are usually heavier, which helps you maintain stability throughout your walk. In other words, running shoes support faster movements while walking shoes support a slower, consistent, and steady pace.

What happens if you wear sneakers everyday? ›

“The repetitive stresses of wearing the same shoes day after day, hour after hour, can eventually make us uncomfortable. Rotating in a different style gives the foot and leg muscles a chance to rest by engaging different muscles.

Why do people wear sneakers to gym? ›

They keep your legs moving faster, longer, harder, and more comfortably, thanks to all that cushioning. You can even wear some of them with your favorite suit. They're great. But if you're mixing it up in the gym and hitting the squat rack, you'll want to invest in a new pair of shoes.

What is the most famous sneaker? ›

The Most Popular Sneakers From Each Decade — Nike Air Jordans Air Max Converse Yeezy.

What is the old name of sneakers? ›

Sneakers go back a long way. In the late 18th century, people wore rubber soled shoes called plimsolls, but they were pretty crude—for one thing, there was no right foot or left foot. Around 1892, the U.S. Rubber Company came up with more comfortable rubber sneakers with canvas tops, called Keds.

What are sneakers called in Europe? ›

They're comfortable for running or walking in. The British call them trainers, probably because they can be used for sports or training. The Americans, meanwhile, call them sneakers, presumably because, being soft-soled, they're suitable for sneaking around in.

What is slang for Adidas? ›

One joke is that Adidas stands for All Day I Dream About Smoking (marijuana), likening the company's leaf-like logo to a cannabis plant. Another was popularized by the metal band Korn in their 1996 song, “All Day I Dream About Sex.”

How do I choose sneakers? ›

How Do I Pick Athletic Shoes?
  1. Purchase shoes from a specialty store, if possible. ...
  2. Try on athletic shoes after a workout or run and at the end of the day when your feet are at their largest. ...
  3. Wear the same type of sock that you would wear for that sport.
  4. Re-lace the shoes. ...
  5. Check the fit.

How can you tell a good sneaker? ›

Look for shoes that:
  1. Have a stiff back. Grasp the heel in one hand and the shoe above the heel in the other hand. ...
  2. Have a small amount of torque. Hold the shoe at both ends. ...
  3. Bend where your toes bend..
  4. Provide arch support. ...
  5. Are wide enough and long enough at the toes. ...
  6. Feel comfortable right away.

Where do they call shoes sneakers? ›

They're called "tennis shoes" in most of the country, while the Northeast refers to the same footwear as "sneakers." There are also pockets of people in the Midwestern cities of Chicago and Cincinnati that say "gym shoes."

What do Brits call sneakers? ›

The British call them trainers, probably because they can be used for sports or training. The Americans, meanwhile, call them sneakers, presumably because, being soft-soled, they're suitable for sneaking around in.

Is sneakers a slang term? ›

The usage of the word sneakers to some would be awkward in modern day but might be common to those who grew up with it being the common slang of their generation.

Why sneakers are so popular? ›

One of the major reasons sneakers became popular among consumers was their introduction into sports, especially basketball. There was never a particular shoe associated with basketball until Chuck Taylor came along.

What are running shoes? ›

What Are Running Shoes? Running shoes are footwear designed specifically to help you run in a way that will prevent injury and increase your athletic performance as a runner. They come in all sorts of styles and sizes—from minimalist shoes without many extra features to tricked-out types that help you as a runner.

Is converse a sneaker? ›

Converse (/ˈkɒnvərs/) is an American brand of lifestyle wear that markets, distributes, and licenses sneakers, skating shoes, lifestyle brand footwear, apparel, and accessories. Founded in 1908, it has been a subsidiary of Nike, Inc.

What do Australians call sneakers? ›

Runners: this is what Australians call their sneakers or trainers.

What do Americans call pants? ›


Why do Americans say pants? ›

The word 'pants' comes to us from an Anglicization of the character's name, "Pantaloon." The word comes from the name of a stock figure in the commedia dell'arte, a form of Italian comic theater popular throughout Europe from about the 16th to the mid-18th century.

Do people still use the word sneakers? ›

What do you call the shoes you wear when you exercise? “Sneakers” or “Tennis Shoes”? According to a study by Harvard, 45.5% of people call them “sneakers,” mostly in the northeast, 41.3% call them “tennis shoes and a few use “gym shoes” or just plain “shoes.”

What do Southern people call sneakers? ›

The majority of this country calls shoes that appear to be athletic in nature “tennis shoes.” Up to this point I'd only ever heard the term used by southerners over the age of 60, but on discussion it appears that many, many more people use the term. The sample size of the Reader's Digest map was 350,000.

Why do people love sneakers? ›

Ultimately, collecting sneakers is rooted in mankind's unyielding need for personal expression and the appreciation of aesthetically pleasing objects of contemporary desire. Sneakers are a low hanging form of accessible hype that is rooted in urban fashion, sporting culture and the joy (or nostalgia) of youth.

Which sneakers are famous? ›

The Most Popular Sneakers From Each Decade — Nike Air Jordans Air Max Converse Yeezy.

What did people wear before sneakers? ›

Many early natives in North America wore a similar type of footwear, known as the moccasin. These are tight-fitting, soft-soled shoes typically made out of leather or bison hides. Many moccasins were also decorated with various beads and other adornments.


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