Can Tennis Shoes Be Used For Running?

Sports shoes became a part of everyone’s life. It doesn’t matter if you practice tennis, running, or use them casually; everyone has at least one pair of sneakers.

The market has grown up and popularized sportswear so much that often we don’t wear it as intended.

It happened to me a few times that I had to run wearing tennis shoes. As long as you run on the beaten path, it’s okay.

But if you decide to go in the forest, you instantly miss flexibility and traction. Moreover, tennis shoes are far from being suitable for running.

Although tennis shoes can be used for running, the performance and safety will decrease. You can run in tennis shoes on roads or sidewalks for short distances. If you practice running regularly, you have no alternative but professional sport-dedicated shoes only because tennis shoe structure is way different from running shoes.

In tennis, you challenge your feet in every possible direction while playing, no matter what type of surface.

In running or jogging, you move merely forward, transferring energy from heel to toes.

Now, let’s understand the fundamental differences.

Difference Between Tennis And Running Shoes

runing and tennis shoes

Tennis and running shoes provide protection and comfort on specific motions.

Technologically, both types are at the highest level, but you won’t get what you expect if you don’t use them the right way.

In the running, you definitely need a good cushioning system to lower the negative impact of the ground strikes. It can be found in established brands, which constantly develop their shoe sole patents.

The general idea is to keep the heel in slight elevation compared to toes. But the shoe should provide cushioning in both areas, the heel and toes, equally.

Tennis footwear has a bit of a different characteristic.

They still absorb shocks but mainly provide stability and lateral support. As a result, tennis players make hundreds of starts, direction changes, and side-to-side slides.

Because of that, it’s more important to keep the feet closer to the ground, so the cushioning isn’t like in the running.

Running shoes have one excellent quality. They are lightweight.

Here is a little comparison table for your convenience.

Shoe Type Tennis Running
Weight Men 11.5 – 16 oz

Women 9.5 – 13.5 oz

Men 9 – 10 oz

Women 7.5 – 9 oz

Sole Flat Structural
Stability High Low
Cushioning Low High

Extra grams in the runner’s shoes would slow him down and lower the motion economy, which is extremely important for runners.

So, all running shoes are light, comfortable, and airy. I wear them to jog and to travel because it feels so good to explore with decent cushioning.

Although tennis manufacturers tend to reduce shoe’s weight, stability comes first. Tennis shoes are heavier than running shoes, stiffer, and durable as well.

Excess stiffness and weight could seem to be a disadvantage at first sight. However, a solid tennis shoe structure gives a perfect balance and safety on all types of court surfaces.

The biggest nightmare for tennis shoes is a hard court surface. But, believe it or not, if you play a couple of hours daily, your shoes will last 2-3 months at most.

Do you use a cheese grater at home? This is what a hard court does to a rubber sole.

Sports shoes have their durability for a limited amount of time, just like any other consumer product.

The durability then depends on many factors.

It can be a wearer’s weight, training frequency, ground surface, or sole rubber quality.

My fellow players and I usually buy new shoes once we spot a hole in the sole or the lug is worn out, so they lose traction on clay courts.

Meanwhile, in the running, you should take into account the condition of the cushioning system. It wears out and becomes less and less effective with each mile.

Usually, if you run more than 500 miles in the same shoes, it’s time to look for a new pair.

Why Tennis Shoes Aren’t Good For Running?

woman jogging

Running is a rhythmic activity that engages feet at their best. The level of your technical running abilities makes you faster, more resistant, and injury-free.

Because of that, running shoes should allow you for any position, motion, and dynamic of your feet.

The reason why tennis shoes aren’t good for running lies in their specific structure.

Their upper is made of thick and durable materials like genuine leather or rubber, which are resistant to repetitive side-to-side foot motions.

A combination of higher weight and stiffness doesn’t make it comfortable in regular running.

Lower cushioning is another negative factor.

When running in tennis shoes, your knee and hip joints have to absorb more load on the contact with the ground, landing, and push-off.

In short-distance runs, the difference won’t be that noticeable. Still, if you like to run a couple of miles, you might experience local pain or tiredness.

There is something else you have to think about when you reach for tennis shoes.

The tennis court surface is flat, so is the tennis shoe’s sole.

Its lug isn’t shaped like in running shoes. The sole structure should keep you balanced in tennis rather than to give a foothold effect like in trail running.

Can You Play Tennis In Running Shoes?

tennis game

I can name at least two main cons for not playing tennis in running shoes. First is your health, second is the court and shoe health.

Running shoes are designed to move forward, and they don’t protect your ankles from sprains nor provide stability.

A typical running shoe is narrow and supported in the front and rear part, so any rapid lateral motion may end with an injury.

Not to mention that an elevated heel will always tend to slip aside.

If you watched tennis tournaments held on clay courts, you must have seen players slide.

The back leg handles keeping the whole body in a dynamic balance by breaking with the internal shoe part.

Now imagine you wear running shoes. After one or two slides, you’d see a big hole in the upper. Especially on clay courts, the surface is rough enough to destroy light materials.

Then, think about the court you’re going to play on.

Running shoes have soles made of soft rubbers, so on hardcourts, for example, the lug will disappear quickly.

On the other hand, if you use the same shoes on a clay court, the lug would damage the surface. Clay courts are just too soft, and improper shoes plow them.

Probably the only court not affected by or affecting the running shoes is the grass court.

But, it still doesn’t change the fact that I don’t advise wearing running shoes in tennis.

Also read: Can Tennis Shoes Be Used For Badminton?

Final Words

Generally, you can wear tennis shoes to run, but you have to be aware of the risk. Short-time activity doesn’t really benefit from specifics of shoe structure.

But, if you practice at an advanced or higher intensity level, you must buy proper shoes.

Tennis shoes provide excellent stability with an unlimited range of motion.

Make sure you have one pair to play tennis and don’t use them for running; otherwise, you’ll suffer.