What Is the Difference Between a Running Shoe and a Basketball Shoe?

By Rona Aquino

Running and basketball shoes are distinct from one another. Running shoes are specifically designed for one movement of the foot: the running gait. Basketball shoes are designed for multidirectional movements such as running, jumping and sideward movements. Choosing athletic shoes for the specific sport you participate in can help prevent serious injuries, according to sports medicine podiatrist Dr. Stephen M. Pribut.

Running Shoes

Running shoes come in many styles, but the main types are cushioned shoes, motion control shoes and stability shoes. Running shoes are specifically designed to protect the runner's foot from the constant impact from the ground. The impact from the pounding at each heel strike is about 2.5 or more times your body weight, according to podiatrist Dr. Greg T. Graglia. This force can cause strain and injuries to athletes which is why it is important for runners to wear protective running shoes to dissipate shock and lessen the risks of injury.

Basketball Shoes

When you play basketball, you tend to make a lot of short explosive moves in all directions. Shoes made for basketball are designed to provide adequate stability with features such as a stiff, thick sole and a rigid heel. Basketball players perform lots of jumping which can cause strain and impact on the foot, which is why shoes are built with cushioning midsoles to sustain the impact. The basketball shoe outsole must have plenty of traction for running, cutting and pivoting motions.

Running Shoe Types

Running shoes are of three types: motion control, cushioned and stability. Motion control running shoes are designed to reduce overpronation. They are suited for runners who overpronate, which is when the runner's feet roll inward excessively. Stability running shoes aid mild pronation. They offer added rear foot stability, forefoot flexibility and extra medial support. Cushioned shoes are meant for runners with high arches. They are meant to provide extra protection and cushioning to help prevent injuries.

Basketball Shoe Types

Basketball shoes tend to have high-top cuts for ankle protection.

Basketball shoes can be categorized by their cut. High-top cuts are meant to offer extra protection for the ankles, while quarter- or mid-cut shoes provide less protection but allow for more range of movement and breathability. Lower-cut shoes can increase the frequency of ankle sprains, according to New Balance Web Express Foot Health Clinic.

While basketball shoes cover the ankle region, running shoe cuts typically extend below the ankle and are generally lightweight and more flexible compared to basketball shoes.


Running and basketball shoes have different tread patterns. The herringbone tread pattern is ideal for basketball shoes because traction is important for running, cutting and moving sideways. Do not use running shoes to play basketball because their traction can be excessive and may lock your foot during turns which can lead to injuries. According to Shoe Capital, basketball shoes tend to have distinct grooves at the bottom that running shoes do not have.


About the Author

Rona Aquino began writing professionally in 2008. As an avid marathon runner and outdoor enthusiast, she writes on topics of running, fitness and outdoor recreation for various publications. Aquino holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications and English from the University of Maryland College Park.

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