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Differences Between Running & Walking Shoes

author image Andrea Cespedes
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.
Differences Between Running & Walking Shoes
Running shoes offer support. Photo Credit: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Although a walker can use running shoes, a runner should never run in walking shoes because they lack appropriate support and cushioning for the higher-impact sport. The fit of a shoe is paramount for either a runner or a walker. A perfect walking shoe or running shoe offers stability, cushioning and allows for a smooth stride, the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine notes.

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Running shoes tend to have a stiffer sole. As a result, walkers sometimes find that running shoes impede their ability to achieve a natural stride or gait. Walking shoes usually bend more easily when you grip the toe and heel.

Heel Wedges

To provide absorption from the shock of running, many running shoes have thick heel wedges. While these provide cushioning for runners, they can cause a slapping movement of the foot when walking, which can induce shin splints or Achilles tendinitis in some walkers. The thicker sole also can cause a walker to trip. The mechanism of walking happens with a heel-ball-toe strike while runners land more on the mid-sole or forefoot. Walking shoes' heels usually are beveled to specifically address the way walkers land on their heels.

Motion Control

Issues of pronation (rotating the foot inward) and supination (rotating the foot outward) exaggerate in a running stride. Many running shoes offer motion control features that keep your foot in a more neutral position. Although some walking shoes provide stability, they will not offer it to the same degree as running shoes.

Weight and Design

Running shoes are usually lighter than walking shoes to help a runner move faster. Because there is a greater demand for running shoes, manufacturers offer more variety in terms of colors and design of running shoes.

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