The modern athletic shoe is a complex animal. Different types of support, shapes, cushion levels, shock absorption, and what feels like a million other variables are all utilized to help create maximum comfort and durability for the user. One of the most common problems people face when picking up an athletic shoe is whether to buy a walking or running shoe. While it may seem like the distinction is obvious, the fact is it’s not always as clear as a name. Below is a quick outline of some of the key differences between modern walking shoes and running shoes.
Walking Shoes: When walking, our natural foot motion flows from the heel, through the ball of the foot and ends at the toe. During walking we are generally well balanced and our feet are required to absorb much less shock than when running. It’s for these main reasons that walking shoes are designed they way they are – to maximize proper motion during this mechanical action by the body. Walking shoes are constructed with flexibility in mind through the ball of the foot providing a better range of motion. Walking shoes also have support built into the arches, which absorb most of the shock during walking.
Running Shoes: Just like walking shoes, running shoes are designed (in general) to match the body mechanics of running. These often means more cushioning to protect against higher levels of impact, more structure designed to support proper motion, extra light-weight and breathable materials to keep feet cool, and more specific cushion in the heel to help protect the main point of impact during running.
No matter whether you are picking a running or walking shoe, it’s important to get a good understanding of your own personal feet and walking motion. If you can effectively evaluate your arch level/type, body mechanics for walking/jogging/running, and other various factors (we recommend researching as there are a variety of body mechanics factors that can affect how you walk/run), then you’ll be able to make a much better decision about what type of shoe you need for your athletic pursuits. Depending on your personal mechanics a running shoe or other type of shoe might work best for your walking, while a cross-trainer or other shoe type might work better for you while running.