The Major Difference between Walking and Running Shoes


by James Smith | Last modified: July 22, 2020

Today, there is a massive selection of running shoes and walking shoes on the market. To select the right shoes, it’s important to know the difference between walking and running shoes. We believe that there is a right shoe for every job! And for every type of runner.

But here’s the deal! You are stuck between walking and running shoes! Finding the perfect running shoe in this wide range is not always easy. That’s why we are here to help!

Whether you want to complete a city marathon, through difficult terrain or just want to train – you need the right walking shoe fora pleasant stroll or some light cardio. We’ll introduce you to the five major types of running and walking shoes and show you which of them fits your goals. Here are some significant differences between running and walking shoes:
The Major Difference between Walking and Running Shoes

The Cushioning of the Shoe

Cushioning in Running Shoes

Running shoes have different features as compared to walking shoes. The first significant difference is in the cushioning. Running shoes have more cushion in a pair of shoe. The reason behind placing more cushioning in running shoes are:

  • Runners impact the ground with three times their body weight with each step
  • Runners need more cushioning to protect their heel and forefoot
  • Requires air cushioning system for more comfort on longer runs like marathon

Cushioning in Walking Shoes

Walking shoes do not require a significant amount of cushioning like running shoes because walkers do not impact the ground as running shoes. The impact of walkers on the ground is barely 1.5 times their own body weight.

The Major Difference between Walking and Running Shoes

The heel does not require extra cushioning due to lighter ground impact. Walkers need lighter shoes, extra cushioning just makes it hard for a walker to have comfortable long strolls in the evening. For fitness walkers, a lightweight shoe can work wonders with adequate cushioning.

Barefoot shoes are perfect for short walks on a smooth surface. For longer walks, particularly on a rough or rocky surface, light walking shoe would suffice.

The Height of the Shoe Heels

Heel Height in Running Shoes

While running, most runners strike the ground using different parts of their foot. Depending on the individual running styles, a runner could hit the forward portion of their heel first, or the midfoot or the ball of the foot.

This is the reason why running shoes must have more stability to handle the variation of impact. Runners should buy shoes with more heel if they land on the ball of the foot. For other landing styles, runners should buy shoes with less built-up heels.

Height of the Heel in Walking Shoes

When you are walking, you hit the ground with your heel and roll through the entire step. This is why you should consider walking shoes with a low heel. The height of the heel closer to the toe must be low! This drop in the heel is known as “Heel Drop.” A heel drop that is between four to eight mm is ideal.

The Heel Flare

The Heel Flare in Running Shoes

Most running shoes have a flared heel that provides more stability and comfort for runners. They strike the ground at their forefoot or midfoot. A perfect flare heel is observable in trail running shoes.

Flare Heel in Walking Shoes

The walking shoes you want as workout shoes or gym shoes must not have a flared heel. The flared heel would cause discomfort to walkers while walking or workout. Walkers hit the ground using their heel. A flared heel would slow the foot’s forward roll down through each step. Instead of flared heels, walking shoes have an undercut heel.

Flexibility in Running and Walking Shoes

Flexibility is the most important aspect of both running and walking shoes. Without flexibility, comfort isn’t possible. Select shoes that arch and flex easily. Several running and walking shoe designs flex at the forefoot. Selecting shoes according to your running or walking style is important.

Flexibility in walking shoes for fitness sessions usually flex at the forefoot. A forefoot flex design is suitable for walkers who push off with toes. For such walkers, the arch will not be appropriate.

Stability in Running and Walking Shoes

Stability is an important feature for both running and walking shoes. Stability is effective in giving the foot more support and guidance than walking shoes. The cushioning is usually very pronounced, and the shoes usually have a construction with strong supports (pronation support).

Comfort is Everything!

Now that we have highlighted major differences to look for in running and walking shoes, here is the ultimate goal your shoes must provide, and that is COMFORT! Whether you pick a pair of running shoes or high-quality walking shoes, they must be comfortable.

While running in long marathons make sure your feet are comfortably nestled in your shoes. This will prevent any injury to your feet during your running. As for walking shoes for walking or exercise, they must be able to support your feet with a comfortable design.

The Major Difference between Walking and Running Shoes

Walking shoes must have a comfortable arch type. Figuring out your arch type and buying a shoe that fits the arch type will eliminate the risk of painful blisters, hammertoes, bunions, and calluses. You need to consider that shock absorption must be adequate when you buy a pair of running shoes. Apart from being uncomfortable, running shoes with low shock- absorption could result in significant injuries.

Our detailed guide will help you select a new pair of shoes for running, walking or cardio workout sessions. We recommend that you change your shoes when you can see the outer sole or you feel like the support is giving away as you walk or exercise. Visit our guide for more information on how to select the best shoes for various purposes.

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