Planning on buying a shoe? Then you need to decide whether you want to buy a walking shoe or a running shoe. It is quite common to see people categorizing both running shoes and walking shoes as athletic shoes without considering the subtle difference between walking and running shoes. Yes, for the untrained eyes, they are the same. However, they are not and I intend to explain the differences between them in this article.
As a runner, it is not advisable to run in walking shoes. This is because they are stiff and not flexible for a running session. However, it is very common to see walkers walk in running shoes effortlessly. In fact, as a walker, your options are not limited to shoes tagged walking shoes – the same cannot be said of running shoes.
What then are the differences between shoes for walking and running? How do they differ and in what way?
I hope you’re aware that as you run and walk, your feet move either inward or outward. This natural movement is known as pronation. Usually, this is not a problem since everyone experience this movement.
However, in the case where your foot rolls excessively inward towards the arch, you can be said to be overpronating and have flat feet. This has health implications, as it can lead to injuries. Where the foot rolls outward, it is known as underpronation or supination.
Because these phenomena are caused during the landing of the foot and how hard it is landing, it becomes a very huge factor considered by shoemakers. In running shoes, because the movement of the foot is quick and lands on the ground with great impact and force, pronation becomes more necessary to be controlled.
Therefore, almost all running shoes are Motion Control Shoes.
However, in walking shoes, you need little stability and control. What’s needed most is comfort.
One of the key differences between a running shoe and a walking shoe is how flexible it is. In the shoe world, shoes that aren’t flexible cannot be bent. Usually, you should always go with flexible shoes because of the comfort they provide your feet as they bent according to the movement of your feet in them.
However, while most good shoes are flexible, the part of the shoe that flex is important and becomes what differentiates running shoes from walking shoes.
In the case of running shoes, they need to flex at the midfoot or forefoot to suit runners that strike at the midfoot or forefoot. For walkers, their shoes should flex at the forefoot.
Regardless of if a shoe is meant for running or walking, if it is not flexible, it is not acceptable. You’ll get uncomfortable wearing them and could even cause you injuries. The most flexible set of shoes are running shoes.
Over time, a lot of walking shoemakers have been creating walking shoes that aren’t as flexible as they claim. Be sure any walking shoe you buy is flexible because inflexible shoes shouldn’t be used for fitness walks.
Cushioning provides padding and comfort for the feet. The level of cushioning needed for a running shoe is different from the level of cushioning needed for a walking shoe.
Generally, running shoes requires more cushioning than walking shoes because of the great impact your foot lands with. It had been said that a runner impact on the ground 3 times the weight of his/her body.
This then means that as a runner, you need a lot of cushioning to keep your legs comfortable and protect them from injuries. The case is different for a walking shoe where your impact on the ground is just 1.5 of your body weight. It is because of this that walkers require cushioning from their shoes compared to runners.
Otherwise known as heel height, heel thickness is one feature that differentiates walking shoes from running shoes. Runners seek stability from their shoes as their foot strikes the ground and they get this stability from a built-up heel.
The way each runner drops his/her leg differs, but generally, they require a heel that will stabilize their foot as it drops.
In walker's shoes, the heel height isn’t that much because of the impact, you make on the ground and its response on your feet is not as huge as the one in running.
This might be a shocker to you because you never think weight should be a differentiating factor. This is because you have seen running shoes that are heavy and walking shoes that are equally heavy.
Well, as a rule of thumb, running shoes are also lighter than walking shoes. This is because runners need a pair that eases their performance and makes them run faster.
On the other hand, weight isn’t much of a concern to walkers compared to runners. However, this does not mean walking shoes should be heavy. What I am saying is that they are less lightweight than runners.
While I know it is hard to generalize in this context, the support walking shoes provide can also be used to differentiate it from running shoes.
Because of the nature of runners’ shoes, they bounce when they hit the ground. However, walking shoes aren’t made to bounce in such a way; They are made stiffer and provide you with good comfort when you land instead of bouncing you back.
Generally, each had been designed to provide support for the activities it is meant for.
I am sure by now you’ve seen that there’s more to just calling a shoe an athletic shoe. While some can help you run, others are only good at giving you a comfortable feel and making it easy for you to walk.
Before you commit yourself to buy any shoe, you need to ask yourself what you plan using the shoe for. If it is for running, you go for running shoes and if it is for walking; You go for walking shoes.
However, if you plan buying a shoe for both walking and running, then you need to settle for a running shoe.
As I stated at the beginning of this article, running shoes can serve as walking shoes, but walkers shouldn’t be used for running.
Saying runners can be used for walking does not mean all runners are walkers. You need to check their specifications and features and see if they have the features required to make walking as comfortable as they should.
Use the difference between running shoes and walking shoes you have learnt in this article anytime you are buying yourself a pair.