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Comparing Running vs Walking Shoe

Running shoes and walking shoes are built slightly differently to cater to the unique demands and movements of each activity. Both types of shoe will provide comfort and support but with the following 5 key differences:

Cushioning and Shock Absorption:

Because running involves higher impact, running shoes typically have more cushioning and shock absorption features compared to walking shoes. This also helps with the faster pace and the repetitive nature of the running stride. Reduction in the impact and stress on the body is possible from the extra cushioning.

In comparison, walking has a lower impact and therefore the shoes tend to have less cushioning.  The shoe design is typically focused more on providing support and stability and less on absorbing high-impact forces.

Shoe Flexibility:

Running shoes need flexibility because of the increased range of motion needed for a running gait.  The increased flexibility can also aid in propulsion and support an efficient stride.

Walking shoes are generally stiffer than running shoes.

Heel-to-Toe Drop:

The heel-to-toe drop is the difference in height between the heel and the forefoot of a shoe. Running shoes generally have a higher heel-to-toe drop.  This increased height at the back of the shoe promotes a more forward-leaning posture during running and aids in the rolling motion of the foot from heel strike to toe-off.  This allows the runner to use gravity to help with forward propulsion.

Walking shoes often have a lower heel-to-toe drop or even a zero-drop design. This flatter profile encourages a more natural foot motion during the walking stride.

Traction and Outsole Design:

The outsole design for running shoes is to enhance grip and traction on various surfaces and can vary depending on the type of terrain you intend to run on such as pavement or a running trail.

Walking shoes prioritize stability and durability over aggressive traction.  Since we tend to walk on more predictable surfaces, the traction needs are lower in walking shoes.

Shoe Weight:

Running shoes are generally lighter in weight compared to walking shoes. When expending the energy needed for running, you don’t want to be adding a heavy shoe to the workload!

Walking shoes, on the other hand, have a slightly heavier construction to provide stability and durability, considering the less dynamic nature of walking.

What To Choose?

While running shoes and walking shoes may seem similar, there are differences. They have distinct features to meet the specific demands of each activity. By choosing the appropriate footwear for each activity, you can optimize comfort, and performance, and reduce the risk of injuries. Where do barefoot running and minimalist shoes come into play?  Stay tuned for a future blog posts!

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