Best running shoes for kids by Nike

Buying guide

Footwear plays an important role in healthy development for kids' growing feet, especially when running is involved. Here are the top four options to consider.

Last updated: 2 April 2024
4 min read
Best running shoes for kids by Nike

When it comes to running and playing, kids seem to take off at a sprint whatever's on their feet—maybe even leaving a shoe behind. But that doesn't mean children can't see benefits from shoes designed for growing feet. Wearing the right shoes might improve how they move.

Research in the journal Healthcare notes that children's footwear plays a crucial role in the healthy growth of foot and gait development. Appropriately designed shoes can contribute to a better range of motion and flexibility in hip, knee and ankle joints, the researchers suggest.

Another research review in the journal Foot and Ankle Surgery emphasises that a child's or teen's foot is distinct from adult feet in terms of functional anatomy and ability to cope with pressure. As children grow up, the connective tissue in their feet gains stability over time, which means they need more cushioning and support in the right areas. Adjustability and comfort are also a big deal because those features in a shoe can empower kids to be more active. Good traction can let them run for longer over multiple surfaces without slipping.

"Kids need extra flexibility and adjustability as they are learning their bodies and what feels best for their feet", says Lex Dixon, Nike product line manager.

Dixon recommends these four shoes for kids, whether you have a future athletics star in the family or want to provide the right amount of stability for those sudden sprints.

Best cushioning: Infinity Flow

There's a lot to love about the Infinity Flow, and it starts with ample cushioning, particularly in the midsole. This creates bounce that can help absorb impact while promoting a natural stride—so kids don't feel like they have to change how they run due to unsupportive shoes.

Plus, a breathable mesh upper keeps feet cool, which can help kids feel comfortable as they move. Another big consideration? These are some stylish kicks. As every parent knows, when a child or teen likes how their shoes look, they're more likely to wear them.

Best for competitive running and older kids: Pegasus 40

When a child or teenager is in athletics or another sport that requires a decent amount of running, emphasis should be on performance. For that, you need shoes with a history of providing support and traction. How about 40 years of results?

The Pegasus 40 brings four decades of results—with countless athletics events, miles and PE classes along the way. There are so many reasons the Pegasus has stood the test of time: a rubber sole with a waffle-inspired traction pattern that helps grip surfaces, a midfoot band that provides stability while running and pivoting in different directions, cushioning that offers enough bounce to blend comfort with confidence and lightweight materials that prompt a feeling of speed. As generations of Pegasus wearers have discovered, what your child wears at the starting line matters.

Best all-round running shoes: Star Runner 4

Even if a child or teen isn't in sports, running can come up spontaneously—sprinting through the playground, picking up speed on a family hike, burning off some extra energy in the back garden—and having an all-round shoe that's ready for anything can be a boost for helping kids to fly through life. Consider the Star Runner 4 as the launchpad.

Soft cushioning in the midsole provides a springy feel without adding extra weight to the shoe, and the tread offers traction on numerous surfaces, from grass to gravel. The flexible heel design makes it easier to pull the shoes on and off, and a vertical mesh upper keeps feet cool. Another kid-friendly feature that parents will adore is durability. Synthetic material covering the front of the shoe is designed to keep the Star Runner 4 going strong, wherever your kid is flying today.

Best laceless shoes for younger kids: Flex Runner 2

With younger kids, the keyword for the ideal shoes is easy. As in easy for them to slip on by themselves or with minimal help, easy to wear while doing any activity from running to climbing to jumping, and easy for parents to feel good about because they're designed for little feet to be snug and supported. That's the Flex Runner 2.

With a bootie-like design and a front and back loop, the Flex Runner 2 is built for the kid on the go. A flexible foam sole is designed with grooves for multi-surface traction without changing a kid's natural stride. The wing-like shape around the heel provides extra stability for sudden direction shifts, which happen frequently during play. Plus, the Flex Runner 2 offers some fun colours—making them easy for kids to love.

In general, giving kids more ability to run, sprint, jump and play at any age is an essential part of physical, emotional and mental development. When children wear shoes designed for their needs, they can be more supported and confident, wherever they go.

Words by Elizabeth Millard

Originally published: 29 March 2024

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