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Running Shoes vs. Walking Shoes

by Katie Duzan

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Athletic shoes

Walking shoes and running shoes might appear alike at first glance, but there are several key differences that set them apart. Both are designed specifically for their respective activities. Using walking shoes and running shoes interchangeably can lead to pain and injury because of a lack of support and cushioning in the necessary areas. The correct men's athletic shoes or women's athletic shoes for the activity leads to a more comfortable and efficient workout.

Walking and Running Shoes:

  1. Look at the cushioning. Because the foot strike is different in walking and running, the shoe's cushioning focuses on the major strike points. In walking shoes, the cushioning is thickest in the heel area. Runners land flat on the foot, so the padding extends over the entire foot.

  2. It's the heart and sole. Running shoes have a thicker sole than walking shoes because runners need thick soles to absorb the shock from the hard hits their feet make on the road. Walkers don't have a need for thick soles because walking is a lower impact exercise than running, requiring less shock absorption.

  3. Try to be flexible. Walking shoes are more flexible than running shoes. A walker's foot strikes the ground heel first, then rolls forward and ends with a push off from the toe. To accommodate the roll, walking shoes have to flex. A stiff shoe causes a walker's foot to slap against the pavement, causing poor form and shoe deterioration. Running shoes are stiff and have little give because a runner's foot strikes the ground flat, then rolls to the toe.

  4. Determine the best design. Each shoe type enhances the natural motion of the activity. Walking shoes often have a bevel at the heel to help propel the foot when walking because the walker's heel strikes the ground first. Running shoes often have a distinctive shape that help move their feet in accordance with a runner's flat foot strike.

  5. Find the best features. As far as fashion, running shoes come in a broader range of styles and colors than walking shoes. However, shoe companies are focusing more on creating updated walking shoe styles that are fashionable.

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