Low Vs. High-Top Athletic Shoes

Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images

While sneakers come in a never-ending variety of styles, colors and designs, they all fall into one category or another. Two of the most basic categories of sneakers are low-tops and high-tops. It's commonplace to make a choice of high-top or low-top sneakers solely based on aesthetics, however, there are definitive pros and cons to wearing either.

Ankle Support

A high number, 70 to 85 percent, of ankle sprains are due to ankle-inversion, a sharp inward movement of the ankle. According to a 2000 study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, high-top sneakers are better at reducing ankle-inversion. The study measured ankle inversion in subjects with video motion analysis techniques, which showed a reduction of ankle-inversion by 4.5 degrees when high-top sneakers were worn versus when low-top sneakers were worn.

Sports and Fitness

Many lines and styles of sneakers are designed for specific activities or sports. However, certain activities are better supported by low-top sneakers while others benefit from the added ankle support of high-tops. Generally, fast-paced activities that involve pivoting and torque place more stress on the ankles. According to Consumer Affairs, athletes playing basketball, soccer, tennis and sports where quick acceleration and sharp turns are common can benefit from wearing high-tops. However, there are activities that are better served by low-top sneakers, such as long and short distance running.


High-top shoes and low-top shoes are equally comfortable to the casual sneaker wearer when it comes to basic foot support and positioning. However, the added material and enclosure space that high-top sneakers provide naturally make them feel warmer than their low-top counterparts. Warmer climates and hotter seasons accommodate wearing low-tops simply because the foot has more room to breath.


Ultimately the choice of high-tops sneakers versus low-top sneakers is a personal one but that doesn't stop fashionistas from having an opinion on when you should or shouldn't wear one or the other. Most agree that wearing high-tops with pants, shorts or a dress isn't the best idea. These sneakers are better suited with jeans that fall over the shoe and in an attractive fashion. By comparison, the low profile look of low-top sneakers offers more versatility as they are easily paired with jeans, pants, shorts and a variety of other bottoms.