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  • Writer's pictureRandy S.

Are Walking and Running Shoes The Same?

Updated: Nov 30, 2022

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Joints and muscles are delicate parts of the body. Unfortunately, many overlook these parts' health until it is too late. One of the best ways to care for your joints and muscles is by wearing the right shoes for the physical activity you plan to do. That way, you will protect your feet, joints, muscles, and entire body.

Running and walking are excellent exercises with many health benefits. Running can strengthen your muscles and bones while helping you burn calories. On the other hand, walking is a great stress reliever and can help improve cardiovascular health.

Whether you run or walk, you need to have the right shoe by your side for your exercise to be effective and strain-free. However, walking shoes and running shoes are different.

With a walking shoe, the heel will strike the ground first and roll the step, while with running shoes, the midsole hits first and often come with excellent shock-absorbing properties.

Continue reading to learn more about the differences between these shoe types.

Why Are Shoes Divided into Walking or Running Categories?

Before we discuss the differences, starting our discussion from this point is essential. You exert different forces with your shoe when you walk and run. For example, you hit the ground with more force when you run.

Experts say you absorb about three times your body weight when hitting the ground. This can occur in different places like the heel, forefoot, and midfoot and engage different body muscles and biomechanics.

For this reason, manufacturers must design shoes with different properties to keep you as safe and comfortable as possible.

What is the Difference Between Walking Shoes and Running Shoes?

To understand the differences between these two shoe types, let's look at them in terms of different properties.


Cushioning is essential to consider whether you are looking for walking or running shoes. It would be best if you had a pair that will remain comfortable for the intended period you plan on using it. For example, most fitness walkers prioritize good foot support for a long time, while runners focus on protecting their foot base, which constantly hits the ground.

Generally, running shoes have more heel and forefoot cushion than walking shoes. This is because you need extra cushioning when walking. But since running means your feet hit the ground with a more significant impact, having the extra cushion support in your shoes is crucial. More important with walking is flexibility since your heel constantly strikes the ground.

Shoe Weight

Walking shoes are usually heavier than running shoes. Because manufacturers use heavy materials to stabilize the foot and support the user arch with each step, you will need more support as your feet spend much time in contact with the ground.

Running shoes are generally lighter to help runners keep running without getting tired because the feet spend most of their time in the air and are less in contact with the ground. Therefore, having a heavier shoe will slow one down and make one tire quickly.


Both walking and running require a shoe with great flexibility. A flexible shoe means that it can move with you excellently. However, where this flexibility is located is different in these shoes.

With running shoes, flexibility is located on the arch or midfoot. This way, the shoe can support you at your midfoot or your ball of foot when you strike the ground. On the other hand, walking shoes feature great flexibility at the arch since walkers use their toes to push their feet off.

This is why you should use running shoes for walking since the shoe has flexibility in the sole. Remember, when walking, you make consistent heel-to-toe movements. Therefore, you need your arch to be flexible. Otherwise, you risk straining and injuring your plantar fascia ligament.

Also, remember that motion-control shoes are not that flexible since they are constructed to prevent the foot from rotating a lot when making a step. So if you need motion-control shoes for running or walking, you will have to give up some flexibility.


You tend to sweat more when running as your body is working extra hard. For this reason, you need shoes that promote excellent airflow. That is why most running shoes have mesh on the outer side.

That ensures that your feet are breathable the whole time. On the other hand, walking shoes tend to focus more on durability and stability.

Support and Control

Support and control are crucial for both running and walking. However, the level of each depends on the particular activity you are doing. As earlier said, our feet spend a lot of time on the ground when we walk. Therefore, you will need more arch support to propel your feet forward.

Both shoes have pronation control and neural options. These show how much arch support the shoe can offer. The control level ranges from mild to heavy. It is advisable to work with a fitting expert to determine the type of support and level of control that will suit your activity best, depending on your foot type and characteristics.

Heel Height

When you run, you usually strike with your heels or midway on your feet. For this reason, running shoes have to be constructed with higher heels. On the other hand, walking shoes hardly have any heels on them.

Therefore, when looking for a walking shoe, you should opt for a slight difference between the heel and toe.


Can You Wear Running Shoes When Walking?

Yes. In fact, for some people, it makes sense. However, it is not usually recommended. Remember that the overall comfort is different in different individuals. For example, some people may find walking in running shoes comfortable, while others may not.

Whatever you decide, please ensure you take all the steps to prevent injuries.

Ensure that the shoes fit well and feel comfortable. You can add arch support to your running shoes to help prevent pain from walking over a long period. But please do not wear minimalist sneakers for walking as they offer the needed shock absorption. They may be used by runners but are not recommended for basic walking.

Also, if you walk in running shoes, please pay attention to how you feel. The shoe needs to offer excellent performance even though it was specifically designed for walking. Also, remember, just like car tires, your shoes need to be replaced. So consider buying a new pair after every 4-6 months.


As we have seen, running shoes and walking shoes have different characteristics. Therefore, you must choose the right shoe for physical activity. Remember, wearing the wrong pair can cause pain, blisters, and other avoidable injuries. If you need help with the correct type of shoe for your needs, please consult a fitting expert.


No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice. The advice given on this website does not constitute or replaces medical advice.

Please consult with a doctor before starting any exercise or nutrition plan.

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