Are New Balance 550 tennis shoes good for running or walking? Read on and learn more about the best uses for these sneakers.

According to one recent report, about 50 million Americans participate in some form of running or jogging for exercise. That's roughly 15% of the total population!

If you pound the pavement on a regular basis, you've likely spent plenty of time searching for the perfect running shoes. The right ones will offer plenty of support, breathability, and long-lasting comfort. Could the New Balance 550 be the answer?

Today, we're breaking down all of the features in this pair, so you can decide for yourself whether they're a good fit. 


Avid runners need sneakers that are up to the task. Whether you run on a track or along the road, your shoes will experience plenty of wear and tear. Canvas shoes might look great at first, but most pairs aren't built to go long distances.

This is one of the reasons why we love the New Balance 550. Made out of high-quality leather, it's an extra-durable shoe that won't break down any time soon. The outsole is rugged and strong but effortlessly bends with each movement of your foot.  


If you love lightweight running shoes, these are some of the best sneakers on the market. Despite their leather construction, the New Balance 550 isn't heavy or bulky. In fact, it feels light and bouncy on your feet, encouraging you to go one more mile. 

This is because the New Balance 550 line was originally released as a basketball shoe. It made its grand debut back in 1989, designed to be a low-top alternative to players who were already rocking a pair of New Balance 650s. 

In 2020, New Balance re-released the 550s, reimagining them as street-ready casual sneakers. While the silhouette has changed slightly, most of the interior construction has remained the same. These are well-cushioned sneakers that are ideal for all-day comfort.

Overall, the craftsmanship in the 550s is nearly flawless. It can be difficult to find a retro release that doesn't compromise on quality, but that isn't the case with these shoes. 


While there are many features that make the New Balance 550s stand out, we're specifically looking for touches that appeal to runners. Let's take a look at some of the ones to notice. 


An interesting aspect of the New Balance 550s is that they are decidedly low-key when it comes to integrated tech features. When these were released in 1989, Air Jordans were already hot and new designs were hitting the market on a regular basis. 

While those sneakers highlighted a range of innovative features, the 550s were more scaled-back. However, this doesn't mean they can't get the job done. If you're a runner, you don't need many of the bells and whistles that define a standard basketball shoe.

However, what you do need is rugged support, and you'll get it with these running shoes. 

The New Balance 550 features a rubber cupsole stitched at the toe and heel for extra reinforcement. Capable of withstanding miles of use, it won't deteriorate as you change running surfaces and will provide excellent stability with each movement. 


Another feature to note? Take a look at the New Balance Arch Support located inside each shoe. This isn't a feature original to the 1989 release, but it's a welcome addition to newer models. Runners need excellent arch support every time they lace up their shoes, and this insert does the trick. 

When the arch of your foot is supported, it can prevent injuries associated with overuse. Some of the most common problems include:


The insert is made from OrthoLite, which has led the shoe insert market since 1997. This explains why it wasn't in the 1989 release. Instead, those likely featured a polyurethane insole that offered similar support. 

While the insert is designed to last a long time, it is removable. This means you can take it out and add your preferred runner-specific insole if you desire.


While the New Balance 550s are retro shoes, they also have a modern spin. Available in many different colorways, most models feature an all-white upper with pops of color in the New Balance logo. 

Turning the shoe to the side, you can see that the cupsole is exposed on the inside. This small feature pays homage to some of the other vintage basketball shoes that featured an exposed EVA wedge, including models from Reebok and Adidas. 

Depending on the specific model you select, you'll find colored leather panels along the toe and sides of the shoe. One example is the New Balance 550 Black/Red Colorway, which features an all-black leather upper with bold red detailing. 

The toe cap on each sneaker is made out of a suede material, which should hold up as long as you clean it regularly with a mild solution.


The New Balance Arch Support insole makes these shoes incredibly comfortable as soon as you put them on. While it isn't super thick, it's well-cushioned and noticeable.

Designed to fit slightly long and a little narrow, there isn't much wiggle room across the bridge of the foot. If you're eyeing the 550s as a casual, everyday shoe, this might raise some concerns. However, most runners prefer a shoe that doesn't fit too widely and keeps their foot properly supported with each stride. 

These run true to size, but if you want more movement in the toes, you can size up half a size. You can also remove the OrthoLite insert and swap it out for a thinner one for a little more space. 


Now that you know a little more about the New Balance 550 line, are you ready to add a few to your collection? The pared-down features of this shoe make it a great choice for runners who prefer comfort and durability over flashy tech. 

Arguably the biggest benefit is the cushy OrthoLite insert, which delivers excellent arch support to keep your feet protected with each workout. Regardless of which unique colorway you choose, this feature is a welcome addition. 

We offer multiple styles of the New Balance sneakers in our online shop, so check out our full collection today!