Walking vs Running Shoes: What Are the Differences?


Imagine this—you go for a walk or run around the neighborhood with your friends or family. You’re feeling good getting out and getting your body moving. The next thing you know, you take a tumble and scrape your knee.

While you could blame yourself for this, it could be the shoes you’re wearing. Unfortunately, foot pain is all too common. Nearly 1 in 4 adults have foot pain during their midlife.

When comparing walking vs running shoes, there are certain factors to consider to help protect your feet. See what those factors are in our guide below.


Whether walking or running, notice how your feet feel when they hit the ground. Let’s see what cushioning you’ll need, whether you’re a runner or a walker.

What Runners Need

Runners need a lot more cushioning than walkers do. This is because when running, your feet will hit the ground with a lot more force. A lot of running shoes will focus on the cushioning in their adverts, especially in the heel and forefront.

What Walkers Need

Walking shoes don’t require as much cushioning as running shoes do. If you do prefer more cushioning, just know that it’ll add more weight. It depends on what feels right to you.

What Fitness Walkers Should Look For

If you enjoy going for longer walks for extended periods of time, then you might want extra support. You want to strike the right balance here.

We recommend going with a light shoe but one with enough cushion for extended walks on hard surfaces. You could even go for a cushioned running shoe.

You’ll be doing your feet and legs a disservice without the proper support. Be kind to your feet; they’re the only ones you’ve got.

Heel Height

Without the right heel height, you may suffer from tendinitis or shin splints. Let’s see what heel height you’ll need, whether you’re a runner or a walker.

What Runners Need

When comparing walking vs running shoes, the best running shoes will have a built-up heel. Every runner will strike their foot at different parts of their foot. Some will strike first with their heel, mid-foot, or ball.

A higher heel will provide adequate support no matter what type of runner you are.

What Walkers Need

Walkers don’t need a higher heel. This is because when you walk, you typically strike with the heel first and then roll through the step.

What Fitness Walkers Should Look For

Fitness walkers need to pay attention to something called heel drop. This is the difference between the height from the heel through the toe. You’ll find it on the shoebox listed in millimeters (less than 8 mm, less than 4 mm is best).

Don’t just wing it by looking at the shoe’s outer sole. Be sure to take your time and try on the walking shoes you desire.

Heel Flare

Depending on where you’re going, you may need added support in the heel. For example, without the proper support in the heel on a trail, you may trip. Let’s see what heel flare you’ll need, whether you’re a runner or a walker.

What Runners Need

If you’re a runner who strikes their foot at your midfoot or forefoot, you’ll need the extra stability from a flared heel. You’ll often see many trail running shoes that provide a flared heel.

What Walkers Need

When you walk, you strike the ground with your heel first. A flared heel will slow down the rolling forward motion through the step.

What Fitness Walkers Should Look For

As a fitness walker, you won’t want a flared heel. What you want is an undercut heel.


Depending on how aggressive you are as a runner, you will need a certain amount of flexibility. Since everyone has different needs, comfort is up to the individual. Let’s see what flexibility you’ll need, whether you’re a runner or a walker.

What Runners Need

When comparing walking vs running shoes, runners need much more flexibility. While there are different style runners, having a certain level of flexibility will provide the most comfort.

Some running shoes will flex at the arch or midfoot, and others will at the forefront. If you’re playing sports like basketball, you need something super flexible for your shot.

A running shoe with motion control means less flexibility. This is because it’ll stop you from over-rotating when you make a step.

What Walkers Need

Walkers will need flexible shoes too. The best walking shoes will strike the right balance of flexibility and comfort.

What Fitness Walkers Should Look For

To find the best walking shoes for fitness purposes, press down on the toe to see where it bends. You want something that bends at the forefoot. If you find a shoe that bends at the arch, it won’t provide enough of a platform.

Avoid walking shoes that don’t bend at all.

Keep Your Laces Tight When Comparing Walking vs Running Shoes

When comparing walking vs running shoes, you now have a much better idea of what to expect. When exercising, your safety is the highest priority. You don’t want to run into foot problems down the line, do you?

As you become a more skilled runner or walker, your needs may change. Always pay attention to what your body is telling you. Stick to known brands that have withstood the test of time.

Keep your motivation high and yourself accountable. To do so, be sure to check out our blog regularly.

About the author

Add Comment

By Maelyn

Get in touch

Content and images available on this website is supplied by contributors. As such we do not hold or accept liability for the content, views or references used. For any complaints please contact babumanish.kuwar@gmail.com. Use of this website signifies your agreement to our terms of use. We do our best to ensure that all information on the Website is accurate. If you find any inaccurate information on the Website please us know by sending an email to babumanish.kuwar@gmail.com and we will correct it, where we agree, as soon as practicable. We do not accept liability for any user-generated or user submitted content – if there are any copyright violations please notify us at babumanish.kuwar@gmail.com – any media used will be removed providing proof of content ownership can be provided. For any DMCA requests under the digital millennium copyright act
Please contact: babumanish.kuwar@gmail.com with the subject DMCA Request.