Fitness Sports

Running Shoes vs. Walking Shoes: Find the Perfect Pair for Your Needs

Running Shoes vs. Walking Shoes: Find the Perfect Pair for Your Needs

Believe it or not, shoe fitting can be a really fun process. Trying on different pairs of shoes is a great way to experience shoes you’re not used to. Oftentimes, you’ll find a much better fit than the pair you are currently wearing.

Some of us have a lot more experience with this process than others, and it can be a little intimidating. But, to make it as enjoyable as possible, you’ll want to understand a bit about the differences between shoe types.

In this article, we’ll dive into the distinctions between running and walking shoes and provide some guidance on how you can find the perfect pair of shoes for you.

Anatomy of a Shoe

If you want to understand the differences between running and walking shoes, it’ll be important to learn about the parts of a shoe. Shoes consist of 3 main components – the Upper, the Midsole, and the Outsole.

  1. Upper: The top part of the shoe that holds your foot in place
  2. Midsole: The cushioning layer between the upper and the outsole that provides support and shock absorption
  3. Outsole: The bottom layer of the shoe that provides traction and durability

Now, let’s discuss the functions of different shoe types in more detail.

Running Shoes: Design and Purpose

Running shoes are specifically designed for the high-impact nature of running. Manufacturers of running shoes place emphasis on providing cushioning, stability, and support to help minimize the risk of injury. Some key characteristics of running shoes include:

  • Cushioning: Enhanced cushioning in the heel and forefoot to absorb impact forces
  • Stability: Support features, such as medial posts or dual-density foam, to help control overpronation (when the foot rolls inward excessively)
  • Flexibility: Flex grooves in the outsole to allow for natural, less restrictive foot movement during running
  • Lightweight: Less overall weight to reduce fatigue and improve efficiency during runs

Walking Shoes: Design and Purpose

Walking shoes are made primarily with comfort in mind. They offer support and cushioning for a more comfortable and relaxing stroll. Some key characteristics of walking shoes include:

  • Cushioning: Moderate cushioning in the heel and forefoot for shock absorption during walking
  • Stability: Adequate support to promote a healthy foot strike and reduce over-pronation
  • Flexibility: Increased flexibility in the forefoot to accommodate the natural roll of the foot while walking
  • Breathability: Mesh uppers and ventilation channels for enhanced airflow and comfort during long walks

Comparing Running and Walking Shoes

It comes as no surprise that running and walking shoes can be very different. Here, we’ll talk more about these differences as they relate to four different shoe characteristics – cushioning, stability, flexibility and weight.

Shoe Cushioning

Running shoes generally have more cushioning, particularly in the heel and forefoot areas, to handle the higher impact forces generated during running. This results in a shoe that is more comfortable, given the nature of running.

Shoe Stability

While both shoe types provide stability, running shoes often have additional support features to address overpronation and other biomechanical issues common among runners. This usually results in a shoe that’s a little more stiff.

It can depend on the specific shoe and your needs, but walking shoes will provide a little more flexibility, and less stability, in general.

Shoe Flexibility

Walking shoes are more flexible in the forefoot to accommodate the foot’s natural roll during walking, while running shoes often have flex grooves strategically placed to allow for better running mechanics.

Shoe Weight

Running shoes are typically lighter than walking shoes to minimize fatigue and boost running efficiency. You can also get light walking shoes, but overall, walking shoes are heavier on average.

Choosing the Right Shoe for Your Activity

Selecting the appropriate shoe for your preferred exercise is crucial for optimal performance and injury prevention. A person who runs a lot should make sure to get fit in a shoe that’s made specifically for running, and vice versa.

Here are some steps to consider when making your choice:

1. Do you consider yourself a walker or a runner?

If you primarily engage in running, opt for running shoes. If walking is your primary form of exercise, choose walking shoes.

2. Understand your foot type

Analyze your foot arch and pronation pattern to determine the ideal shoe features for your biomechanics.

3. Prioritize comfort

A comfortable shoe is essential for injury prevention and long-term enjoyment of walking or running. Try on multiple pairs to find the one that feels the best.

4. Consult the Fitness Sports team of experts

If you’re unsure about the right shoe for your needs, consult the Fitness Sports shoe professionals for guidance on getting fit.

Something to keep in mind: If you want to save money, and only run occasionally, it makes more sense to use a running shoe for both walking and running, and not a walking shoe.

Proper Shoe Fitting Tips

To ensure the best fit for your running or walking shoes, follow these tips:

1. Measure your feet

This goes without saying, but you need to know your shoe size before buying. Remember, foot size can change over time, so it’s a good idea to measure both feet and fit your shoes to the larger one, if they are slightly different.

2. Shop in the afternoon

Feet can swell throughout the day if you are very active, so shopping for shoes in the afternoon or evening may give you a more accurate fit.

3. Wear appropriate socks

Try on shoes with the same type of socks you plan to wear during walking or running. The more consistent you can be with everything, the better.

4. Allow for toe room

There should be about a thumb’s width between your longest toe and the end of the shoe to help prevent toe crowding and foot injuries such as blisters.

5. Check for heel slippage

Your heel should fit snugly in the shoe without slipping as you walk or run. No one wants their shoes falling off!

Wrap Up

There can be a lot that goes into finding the perfect pair of shoes. We hope this guide to walking and running shoes helps you make a decision that’s best for you. By considering factors such as cushioning, stability, flexibility, and weight, you can make a better informed decision.

Remember to prioritize comfort and proper fit to minimize the risk of injury and maximize your enjoyment of running or walking. And if you need any additional help, our team of experts are here to answer any questions you may have!