Walking Shoes vs Running Shoes
If you’re the active type, then you’ve probably wondered what the difference was between running shoes and walking shoes at least once. It all comes down to the demand that your chosen activity is going to be placing on your feet and body. Because, despite how similar they appear, walking and running are two very different activities. And due to the different body mechanics involved in running and walking, these shoes need to be designed specifically for the stress placed on your foot. The best way to understand the difference between walking shoes and running shoes is to look at the mechanics of these different movements.
Walking is naturally gentler on the body than running. Your body’s weight is evenly distributed and balanced, alternating from one foot to the other, as the weight rolls from your heel, through the ball of your foot, and to the toe. And since walking creates less of an impact compared to running, your feet only need to absorb about 1 to 2 times your body weight.
Running is a more high-impact activity. Since there are times during your stride when neither foot is on the ground, your foot needs to absorb between 2 to 3 times your body weight. When you take a step while running, your outer heel takes the brunt of the impact before spreading the weight, through your foot, to the toe of your shoe in an “S-shaped” motion.
Because of the different strains these activities place on your foot, you need to right shoe in order to be comfortable and have the support you need. Walking shoes are designed with the mechanics of walking in mind, we have created a guide on them here. These shoes are more flexible through the ball of your foot so you have a better range of motion as your weight rolls to the toe. Walking shoes also have better arch support since this is where your foot absorbs the greatest amount of force.
Running shoes are designed to accommodate the mechanics involved in running. Because of this, these shoes are designed with more cushioning at the heel, since that is the point of impact, and less cushioning up through the ball of your foot. This design matches a runner’s stride and allows for optimum support while running. Running shoes also tend to be lighter than walking shoes, often being made with lightweight mesh. This material helps to keep your feet cool since more heat is generated when running compared to walking.
Can you wear Running Shoes for Walking?
Since the mechanics involved in running and walking are so different, the shoe that you wear should be designed with the demands of the specific activity in mind. Some people state that they feel very comfortable when they wear running shoes while walking. But for fitness walking, wearing a properly designed walking shoe will make a tremendous difference. It’s important to wear the right shoes for walking not only to make the activity more enjoyable, but also in order to prevent unnecessary injury.
Running shoes aren’t designed with the needs of fitness walking in mind. When running, all of your weight comes down on the heel. To provide ample support and stability, running shoes are designed with flared, oversized heels to absorb this force. While perfect for running, this style isn’t practical for walking. This is because the mechanics of walking cause the foot to roll more naturally and because your body’s weight is more evenly distributed.
And since the heel of a running shoe tends to be thicker than the toe area, they can even be painful when walking for longer periods of time since they don’t offer the proper balance that walking shoes provide. Another area of your foot that might be negatively impacted by wearing running shoes for fitness walking is the arch of your foot. Most running shoes will have less arch support due to the mechanics involved in the running motion.
Unfortunately, this unsupported arch is where most of the force will be placed on your foot while walking. So while it might be perfectly fine to wear running shoes for brief walking activities, wearing them daily for prolonged periods of time just isn’t going to offer you the same comfort, support, and protection that you will enjoy from a good pair of walking shoes.
Fitness Walking Shoes
In order to meet the demands of moderately intense walking, fitness walking shoes have some design features that running shoes don’t offer. These mainly come down to the parts of your foot that are supported. Running shoes have flared, large heels that allow the shoe to absorb the heavy impact of your body’s weight when landing on your heel. Walking shoes are designed to accommodate how your foot rolls naturally forward while walking. Because of this, walking shoes will have an undercut heel that is closer to size to the toe.
This allows for increased comfort during long, brisk walks. And since walkers push off from their toes, walking shoes usually have more flex through the ball of your foot compared to running shoes. This allows you to achieve a more natural walking stride. In addition, walking shoes tend to have more arch support compared to running shoes because this is where your foot will have the most force placed upon it.
By purchasing a good pair of fitness walking shoes, you allow the shoe to meet the demands that long brisk walks place on your foot. This reduces pain, increases comfort, and provides for a more natural stride.
Best Walking Shoes for High Arches and Plantar Fasciitis
Individuals with high arches normally can develop a painful condition called plantar fasciitis. An arch is the portion of the bottom of your foot that runs from your toes to your heel. A high arch is simply an arch that is raised higher than normal. This high arch can lead to plantar fasciitis, or damage to your plantar tendon. This is a band of tissue that supports your foot’s arch. Without proper support, damage to this ligament can create a sharp pain in your foot with each and every step. Luckily, many walking shoes have been designed to treat plantar fasciitis and support high arches.
By buying a walking shoe that is designed to offer you the proper support, you can reduce pain and make walking enjoyable again. One of the best high arch support walking shoes available today is the New Balance 665. This walking shoe is available for men and women and is perfect for a cavus foot. They offer a high arch and a removable padded insole and ABZORD cushion that provide great support and comfort for anyone with a higher arch or strain in the plantar tendon.
Another one of the best walking shoes for anyone with plantar fasciitis and high arches is the Brooks Addiction Walker. This walking shoe is available for both men and women and features a rear and forefoot Hydroflow cushioning mechanism that prevents shock from being transmitted to the foot. This means less stress on the plantar tendon and, therefore, less pain. It also features a great midsole cushion for improved arch support making it ideal for people with high arches.
Walking Shoes vs Running Shoes vs Cross Trainers
When it’s time to purchase a new pair of athletic shoes, it’s important to consider what you’ll be wearing them for. You need to decide which type of shoe is right for you: a walking, running, or cross training shoe. Walking shoes are designed to offer more flexibility through the ball of your foot. This allows an improved range of motion through the natural roll of your forefoot. These athletic shoes also have better arch support since this is the area of your foot that will take the heaviest load.
Running shoes are designed with the mechanics of running in mind. These shoes offer more cushion in the heel, which is where running places the highest load of impact, and less around the ball of your foot. Due to the amount of heat that running can generate, these athletic shoes also tend to be lighter and made with more mesh, allowing your feet to stay cool. Cross trainers are a solid all-around athletic shoe for people taking on a variety of activities.
These shoes offer more ankle support for lateral and forward motion making them great for people who quickly switch between a variety of activities like aerobics, weightlifting, jogging on the treadmill, and short runs. Onn thing to keep in mind is that, due to the difference in design and support, trainers are not suitable for long-distance running.
Choosing the right athletic shoe is not just about comfort and support, it’s about pain prevention and performance. With better arch support, improved flexibility through the ball of your foot, and a smaller heel, fitness walking shoes are a wise investment for anyone who enjoys fitness walking.