Can you Wear Trail Running Shoes on a Treadmill?

There are a few reasons that you would want to wear your trail running shoes on a treadmill. The weather outside, you want to run indoors or you are simply in love with your trail shoes and want to wear them on the treadmill. But for most people, it comes down to being a budget option.

Shoes are expensive and buying a pair just for a treadmill seems unnecessary. You haven’t tried shoes on a treadmill before and you think that it will damage your shoes.

Short answer: Yes, you can definitely wear trail running shoes on a treadmill.

Treadmill running, at its core, is just a form of running. Treadmills are much more forgiving than the trails but trail shoes have also become more versatile than they use to be in the past. They use to be bulky, heavy, and stiff. But today, they are much more flexible and lightweight. Today, trail and other outdoor shoes are versatile enough to be used on stable surfaces like concrete, roads, and pavements.

How do Trail Shoes Feel on a Treadmill?

As mentioned above, trial shoes are much more versatile these days. There are lighter trail shoes available on the market which can be used on a treadmill as well other activities. However, they might feel different at first.

Trail shoes work fine on a treadmill. However, they are heavier than the typical workout shoes because of the abuse they have to face on the trails. Trail shoes have larger lugs and can feel uncomfortable on a treadmill compared to when worn on soft ground. You can say that trail shoes are a bit of an overkill for the treadmill.

Trail shoes on a treadmill wear out differently from road shoes. The large lugs on the outsoles are the only contact points on the belt and so they will wear out quicker than the rest of the outsole. However, treadmills are designed to perform with minimal friction and so, treadmills won’t wear down the lugs that quickly. But if you are opting for faster workouts such as tempo runs and interval workouts then you should probably go for lighter road shoes.

Treadmills are more Forgiving than Trials

Treadmills don’t cause any harm to the shoes because of the way they operate. On a treadmill, you don’t have to use muscles to project yourself forward or push the belt backward. On a majority of treadmills, you push a button and the belt propels itself via a motor. You have to adjust the speed of the belt and then use minimal force to just keep your body floating over the belt as you run. This causes minimum friction on the bottom of the shoes.

Treadmills, where you have to push the belt yourself, are rare these days. They are mostly old models or very cheap models. Most membership gyms have self-propelling treadmills which means, in theory, you can run on a treadmill in any pair of shoes you want.

Some Key features of Trail Shoes

  • The upper of the trail shoes are made of thick material. They have a strong mesh to prevent rips and tears on the trail. They also have toe bumpers on the toe box which protects the toes from bumping into rocks.
  • Soles of trail shoes are designed to grip uneven surfaces. They have large lugs and teeth. The soles are also made of sticky rubber for better traction and to deal with dirt and rocks. Many trail shoes have plastic plates in the middle of the shoes to protect the mid-sole from rocks and sharp objects making them less flexible.
  • Many trail shoes come with stability features such as extended ankle support to prevent the ankles from rolling on uneven surfaces which might, otherwise, cause an injury.
  • Given the rough and tough conditions of the trail that the trail shoes have to withstand. It should be obvious that they are bulkier and heavier than other running shoes.

Choosing Trail Shoes for the Treadmill

There is no reason for you to hesitate to use trail running shoes on a treadmill. But if you are dedicated to running on a treadmill, then you can get a nice pair of trail running shoes that are lightweight. Here are a few tips that will make your experience better while using trail shoes on a treadmill.


If you are going to use your trial shoes more on a treadmill than on a trail, then you should probably get lightweight trail shoes. Lightweight trail shoes will help you bounce off the treadmill as the belt loops around. The heavier the shoes, the faster you will get tired on the treadmill.


Trail shoes have a tough job protecting the feel from the rough tracks against all sorts of sharp objects like rocks, thorns, etc. and so they come with a lot of protection as mentioned above. They are a bit of an overkill for the treadmill. But if you are buying trail shoes primarily for the treadmill, then there are trail shoes that have less protection and are lightweight. They shouldn’t feel much off on a treadmill than road running shoes.


As with all shoes, comfort is an important factor. If you are paying the money for the shoes, then you should at least be comfortable using them. That being said, heavy-duty shoes will feel a bit uncomfortable on the treadmill as you will feel the tread of the shoes in your feet. You can go for a lighter option or you can get used to it over time with practice and the fact that it is a cost-effective option after all.