What Are the Different Types of Athletic Shoes That Exist Today?

The humble feet—truly the unsung heroes of our celebrated bodies. They have the weight of the world on them and work tirelessly to transport us from point A to point B and everywhere in between.

If you live an active lifestyle, chances are your feet are taking on a load of 10,000+ steps every single day.

That’s a lot of stress and a lot of wear and tear. Luckily, modern design and technology have provided us with myriad types of athletic shoes to lessen the burden on the base of our bodies. Keep reading to learn about the different kinds of shoes for athletic performance and optimal health.

Choosing the Right Types of Athletic Shoes

In such a crowded marketplace it can be dizzying when you try to narrow down your search for the athletic footwear that’s right for you.

It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for basic walking footwear or are on the lookout for the best athletic shoes money can buy; finding the perfect pair of kicks can be daunting. No matter what kind of shoes you’re looking for, here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Shop at a store that specializes in your sport/activity if possible
  • Wear the same socks you would for the athletic activity to ensure a proper fit
  • Make sure there is room to wiggle your toes (typically a half-inch)
  • Try on the shoes after a workout when your feet have expanded
  • Walk around on different surfaces to ensure comfort

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the different types of athletic shoes for all walks of life.

Running Shoes

Let’s start with the classic running shoe. People have been running since the beginning of time and the footwear technology has finally caught up to make sure each runner has the correct shoe for his or her needs. There are three basic types of running shoes on the market today.

Neutral Shoes

For runners with normal arches and a neutral running pattern, neutral shoes are perfect. This means that their foot contacts the ground naturally when they run or jog. The foot then rolls inward approximately fifteen degrees (pronation), with the sole of the foot touching the ground.

According to estimates, between 50 and 60 percent of runners run in a “neutral” style. This type of footwear usually has the most cushion on the heel and is lighter than other styles.

Stability Shoes

Stability shoes are for runners that may have trouble sustaining proper arch support while running. They provide extra lightweight support in the arch and heel to make sure the arch stays elevated. The result is a heavier running shoe but one that comes with added cushion and comfort.

Motion Controlled Shoes

These types of shoes are for people with flatter feet, also known as over-pronation. These runners provide the ultimate support, stability, and shock absorption for over-pronators and heavier set individuals.

Minimalist Shoes

You’ve probably seen these shoes around if you haven’t tried them yourself. They are also known as “barefoot shoes” and resemble frog feet.

They are not for the faint of heart as they have very little support, but they are designed so that the middle or front of your foot hits the ground first, rather than your heel. Some believe this reduces the overall pressure on the legs and will prevent injury.

Cross Trainers

Cross trainers are kind of like the Swiss Army Knife of athletic footwear and are great for a variety of activities. They’re great for the weight room, walking, short jogs, and many other activities in moderation. Although very versatile, they don’t specialize in one particular sport so keep that in mind when shopping.

Basketball/Court Shoes

Court shoes have a firm tread that allows nimble movement in the gymnasium or on the tennis court. You can find these types of shoes at places like kickscrew.com as well as other online shops and retailers.

They are usually made with malleable leather to allow for quick movement and agility. If you’re a competitive athlete or a one-sport person, t’s still a good idea to look for a court shoe suitable for your specific activity.


Cleats are used in a variety of sports, including golf, baseball, football, lacrosse, soccer, and more. The spikes are made with hard plastic or steel that is ideal for providing traction on grass and turf. The top of the shoe is usually made with pliable leather or a similar material.

Trail Shoes

Not a city slicker and prefer to get off the beaten path? Trail shoes are going to be your jam. They are designed with thicker treads for better traction and have ample support to absorb the stress and shock of off-road conditions.

Hiking Shoes

Hiking shoes are built for excellent support and stability for tackling rough and unpredictable outdoor terrain. They are usually laced up high above the ankle to protect against sprains and provide extra support. They’ll also come with a solid tread suitable for scrambling and climbing.

Walking Shoes

For those that prefer to get their exercise by racking up the steps at a moderate pace, we have the walking shoe. This type of shoe tends to be designed for comfort with a supportive arch and top-notch shock absorption. The tread will be fairly smooth as they are designed for flat surfaces.

Cycling Shoes

Cycling shoes are designed to be lightweight and to fit snugly on the feet. They will typically have a stable arch that works well while pedaling.

Choose Your Shoes With Confidence

Now that you’re up to speed with all the different types of athletic shoes, you should be able to pick out your next pair with confidence. Remember, not all shoes are created equally, and each style serves a different purpose. Do your research, take your time, and follow the tips above to find the best footwear for your needs.

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