Running shoes VS walking shoes.
-By Nathan Lawrence
This old chestnut!
It usually looks a bit like: ‘Can I run in walking shoes?’ Or ‘I don’t want runners, I want walking shoes’
This is a grey area...does anybody really know? Surely there has to be a difference?
We get asked this question quite a lot so I decided to provide everyone with a rundown or walkdown of the difference and what that looks like.
So getting into it-
Running and walking as an activity are quite different but not that much. Running is high impact – your are slamming you foot repetitively on the ground with a force of almost 3x your body weight. So if you are 80kg and your going for a run…your putting your body through 240kg worth of impact and force!
Now we see plenty of people who run in cheap equivalents that are not adequate and now you see why. A running shoe is designed to take that impact and reduce it.
Running shoes is a billion dollar industry. There is a huge range for all types of runners, running styles, distances, terrain and then there’s the cushioning, support or that fad we went through with minimal barefoot – the shoes that look like foot gloves (you know the one!)
Getting a running shoe is dependant on the runners needs.
CUSHIONING – such as racing flats and spikes have very low (or NONE at all) cushioning. The other side to that is super cushioned shoes for longer distances and endurance.
TECHNIIQUE – the foot strike of the runner influences a running shoe: Heel strike, Midfoot and Forefoot striking.
HEEL-TOE DROP – this is the pitch of the shoe, some prefer higher and other lower which is a flat shoe.
STABILITY – Runners are categorized by the structures built into the shoes commonly known as NEUTRAL (supernate) SUPPORTIVE (overpronate) Each of these is suited to the foot-type of the runner
Each year the running shoe brands develop better materials and try to reduce weight, add greater comfort and a better overall feel to reduce rubbing and blisters.
Now let's slow things down and look at:
So the science of walking as mentioned at the start…you are only putting your body through 1.5x your body weight. Much less impacting and easier on the body, so if we look at our 80kg walker the force and impact through the feet is 120kg!
Now unlike a runner, walkers will land on their heels (you have to…no-one walks on their toes…unless you’re being sneaky) A walkers starts with connecting with the ground heel first – rolls through to the midfoot and then the ball of the foot to toe-off. It’s the natural gait cycle and it’s a gentle motion that actually is better for the body:
Weight is distributed evenly
Both feet at certain points will be touching the ground.
Let’s look at the shoe technology.
Designed for comfort and to assist the foot to naturally roll through the gait cycle.
Many of the major brands still produce Walkers but now limit their range.
What you will find with walking shoes is:
CUSHIONING – Usually more on the heels to absorb the initial impact but is evenly and adequately distributed through the shoe. There is enough to manage the impact forces.
COMFORT – Like a teddy bear hugging your foot with pillows. This is the design, to provide maximum comfort to go all day. You will also find the outer of the shoe is more casual and rugged or leather.
TECHNIQUE – The Heel-toe platform of the shoe is usually even to promote a natural movement. There is added flexibility in the forefoot, sometimes more than a running shoe.
STABILITY – reinforced in the heel and under the arch to cradle the foot when its at it’s heaviest (mid-foot) These too fit into the categories of NEUTRAL and SUPPORT.
These days many people opt for a running shoe for versatility, weight and performance.
The biggest thing that I find with running shoes and walking shoes is that are both built for a forward motion. What it comes down to is:
Get properly fitted for what you are looking to do. Many run specialty shops have the stock and knowledge to help find what will work the best for you and your activity.
But for those of you who hate a vanilla answer and would like a decision made for them...Go for the running shoe! Oh...and DON’T run in the walking shoe!