Are Nike Air Max 90’s Actually Good For Running In?

Promoted and advertised as a running shoe, the Air Max 90 is without a doubt one of the most iconic Air Max trainers of all time. But does the Nike Air Max 90’s actually any good as a running shoe?

Since its initial release, the iconic Nike Air Max 90 design has laid out the groundwork for many Nike Air Max sneakers to follow,. Today they stands proud in the Sneaker Hall of fame as a huge slice of trainer history. However, does the Air Max 90 actually work well as a performance shoe (see our guide to learn how to tell whether air max 90s are fake)? Let’s find out:

Is the Air Max 90 a running shoe?

Just like its predecessors, the Nike Air Max 90 was labelled as a performance running shoe during its original debut in 1990. The brainchild of sneaker designer, ‘Tinker Hatfield’, the Air Max 90 burst on the scene at the beginning featuring the tallest air unit to date. Looking back at how advanced the technology was at the time, no wonder Nike marketed them as such.

Due to the innovative visible air bubble, the lightweight structure and breathable mesh throughout, the Air Max 90 got given the green light to be marketed as a running shoe. Other sneakers were not nearly as comfortable in comparison, and had nowhere near the impact protection that the Air Unit provides.

Other popular silhouettes at the time were unable to match the potential of the Air Max bubble which is why Nike had a clear path to promote the Air Max 90 as one of their primary athletic shoes of the era.

If the Air Max 90 was originally a running sneaker, why are they now considered a lifestyle sneaker?

Firstly, the shoe is too high off the ground and can injure a runner due to a lack of stability. They may be very comfortable, but you can sprain your ankles if you’re not careful. Though the Air Max 90 is an incredibly comfortable shoe, this is the main reason they aren’t widely renowned as running trainers.

You can try and experience running in them for yourself, but these are the main reasons why they’re not advisable for use as high-performance sportswear. If you have already purchased the Cult Edge and were expecting it to be a great running shoe, you can always head to your nearest gym and have a go on a treadmill before deciding to use them for long runs.

Is the Air Max 90 good for running or walking in for long distances?

This silhouette isn’t really associated with sports performance, but rather comfort and style. These two key features alone make it one of the best sneakers of all time in Nike’s Sportswear line.

You can use them for training sessions that don’t require you to manoeuvre at full speed and they are ideal for the gym. The thick midsole and lack of an outrigger can hinder and slow down your usual quick lateral movements and fast performance.

The foam used in the Air Max 90 is quite dense and firm compared to today’s available foam based cushions. So they won’t really give you much impact protection to withstand long hours of running.

It would be better to use the Air Max 90 as a casual training shoe or for light jogs. We wouldn’t recommend bringing them on anything more than a 5k and would advise not to keep them as your main pair as you might run into some issues, forgive the pun!

Another question to ask would be, would you show up with the Air Max 90 to a marathon? As indicated earlier, it probably wouldn’t be advisable.

You could probably use the Air Max 90 for pretty much anything, if your dared to. Otherwise it’s a fantastic everyday sneaker but any way you look at it, they aren’t a top tier running shoe.

Some modern editions that gave them a free pass to become a running sneaker though. In 2014, Nike introduced the Air Max Lunar90 which stayed true to the original aesthetics and build. The Air Max Lunar90 replaces the foam midsole with “Lunarlon” foam that houses the visible Air Max unit to provide a more comfortable and lightweight sneaker.

Is the Nike Air Max 90 a good lifestyle shoe?

Not all running shoes are worth buying. Especially when you consider that not all running shoes are actually good for running, but always remember that this comfort can translate into a great lifestyle sneaker.

The Air Max 90 does exactly that.

Now homed in the Nike Sportswear category, the Nike Air Max 90 is adequate enough to be used for short training sessions but don’t expect it to give you great impact protection that lasts for hours. Certainly when compared to the trainers available in the present.

It may have been left behind in terms of performance capability but it has made its mark as one of the most iconic sneakers to ever drop on this planet.

Even after more than 30 years the Air Max 90 continues to be a legendary sneaker staple, passed down from one generation of sneakerheads to the next.

What are the best Air Max Running Shoes?

You wouldn’t see world-class runners using an Air Max 90 sneaker ever, they’d would use a foam-based cushion like the ZoomX. Whilst probably also adding a forefoot Zoom Air pod to maximize responsiveness and impact protection.

The Nike Vapormax is another sneaker that debuted as a running shoe. It performed well, even though it took some time to get accustomed to with its midsole and outsole consisting entirely of a moulded Air unit.

The Vapormax had its annual release versions where Nike tweaked the upper materials and tuned the Air Max outsole. They have also been categorized in the Lifestyle section. They followed the same path as the Air Max 90.

Does the Air Max 90 make a good basketball shoe?

One surprising fact about this sneaker is that it’s actually worn by an NBA player.

Thabo Sefolosha wore the Air Max 90 for the rest of his career after he fractured his tibia in 2015.

He says that it’s the only shoe he can still play comfortably in which is why he took them to the hardwood and never looked back.

It still seems a puzzling decision for anyone who’s tried to wear the Air Max 90 and injured themselves whilst playing sport. Yet as long as Sefolosha feels good and plays well while wearing them we can’t really question his choice.

Nike’s Air Max team actually tweak his shoes and give him his own unique pairs of 90s, they are built to be more supportive and specifically suited to basketball.

What are the best Nike running shoes?

If you’re a serious runner, the sneaker’s specs must be your top priority. We have put together a list of the best available Nike running sneakers that you can purchase right now. Continue reading to see the sneakers’ with the best features and also some guidance on negative aspects.

Four of our top Nike Running shoes:

Nike React Infinity Run 2

Rumoured to reduce running injuries by utilizing Nike’s tech in the foot’s key areas. The Nike React Infinity Run 2 aims to bring the standard set by its predecessor to a higher level. Featuring an updated Flyknit upper for a reinforced strength. Designed with support in the toe, the Infinity Run 2 also increased the React foam’s height for a plusher feel as you run.

Key Benefits:

  • Increased rubber on the outsole for a more durable and grippy traction on all conditions.
  • Cushioned collar for a more comfortable feel.
  • Wider base for a more stable ride to prevent injuries.
  • Reinforced Flyknit upper for a supportive structure.
  • Full-length React foam for maximum comfort.

Where to Buy? SHOP HERE

Nike Zoom Fly 3

Inspired by the Vaporfly running footwear line, the Nike Zoom Fly 3 is one of the most readily available running sneakers in the market. The sneakers offer you a seamless stride. Designed with great tech specs for all-day comfort and durability. It features a carbon fiber plate inside the full-length “React” foam that puts a spring on your step. The responsive cushioning will keep you running for hours. Best for marathons and other long-distance runs.

Key Benefits:

  • Full-length React foam inserted with a carbon-fibre plate for an extremely responsive ride.
  • Carbon-fibre plate that adjusts on your stride to provide maximum flexibility.
  • VaporWeave fabric with arch band lacing system for a sock-like fit.

Where to Buy?


Women’s: SHOP HERE

The use of carbon fiber sandwiched between soft and responsive foam cushioning has been effective and Nike continues to come up with something new to elevate a runner’s potential to the next level.

Most of the sneakers in our list are widely available sneakers that you can purchase today. We’ll also mention a limited-edition running sneaker due to its superior technology and high-quality materials. These running sneakers are so effective performance wise that the prototype version almost got banned from competitive running by the World Athletics. Let’s take a look into that shoe now.

Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT

This shoe was worn by Eliud Kipchoge, a world-class long-distance runner and Olympic champion when he became the first ever person to run a sub-two-hour marathon at the INEOS 1:59 Challenge in Vienna. Although it wouldn’t count as a world record at the time. The Alphafly NEXT% is pretty much top of the running sneaker food chain. Athletes will certainly break more records wearing them once competitions resume.

Key Benefits

  • Full-length ZoomX foam, a proprietary compound made of Pebax for the ultimate response and impact absorption.
  • 2 visible Zoom Air units in the forefoot for superior energy return in every stride.
  • Full-length carbon-fibre plate for a snappy sensation with every step.
  • AtomKnit, a steamed and stretched Flyknit for a lightweight and breathable fit.
  • Data-mapped outsole gathered from hundreds of runners to provide grip from the toe through every phase.

The Zoom Aphafly NEXT% is quite hefty in price, but if you have the budget to get the best running sneaker available, check the link below to choose your colourway.

Where to Buy?


Women’s: SHOP HERE

Nike Zoom Pegasus series

The Nike Zoom Pegasus is Nike’s longest selling, running sneaker line. This is since its first release in 1983. It’s one of the most reliable and most consistent running sneakers. This timeless choice always gives you your money’s worth with use of Nike’s modern technology to stay at the top of the list.

Key Benefits:

  • Full-length React foam that houses a top-loaded forefoot Zoom unit for more bounce and better responsiveness.
  • Midfoot band that adapts to your foot size.
  • Grippy outsole to keep you in your game in all-conditions.

Where to Buy? SHOP HERE

Final Thoughts

Whilst the Air Max 90 is not the best running shoe of this decade, it is definitely on of the most iconic silhouettes of all time that some would claim is the perfect shoe. However, if you have plans to make them your primary running sneaker, it might be better to think twice and look elsewhere for different options.

This is just for the sake of performing better, while avoiding any possible injuries that you may encounter when you wear this shoe.

The Air Max 90 is still a great lifestyle sneaker, so if you’re interested, we have a huge section on our page where we post the latest Air Max 90 New Releases and sale items

For more details on the best Nike Running shoes for crossfit, long distances running and HIIT we also recommend reading our article on The Best Gym Trainers for HIIT and CrossFit Workouts.