You’d think walking and running were pretty similar. After all, it is pretty much the same process, but faster, right?

In reality, though, running is far higher impact than walking. You hit the ground twice as hard when you are running rather than walking, and that increase in force can cause major issues if you are wearing the wrong footwear.

That is why it is important to understand the difference between walking and running shoes, so you can make a conscious choice when it comes to your footwear. Here is a list of the things that you can expect to be different between walking and running shoes.  


Like we said earlier, when you are running, you hit the ground far harder, impacting it, (and themselves) with around three times their body weight.

Because of this, running shoes tend to have much more cushioning than specified walking shoes, especially around the heel and ball of the feet.

However, all this padding comes at a cost – Weight. Running shoes also tend to be far heavier than walking shoes. For this very reason, lightweight running shoes will cost more because they have to come from higher tensile, more robust material, which is, of course, more expensive.  


Walking shoes have angled heels, to allow the feet to roll forward and aid natural gait. Walking shoes are also generally around the same height all the way across, with no noticeable difference in toe and heel height.

Running shoes, on the other hand, tend to have a more built up heel with a larger difference in heel to toe height. It is because running has a markedly different stance and gait than walking. A lot of runners hit the ground with their heel or toe first and roll down into the rest of their foot, so you need far more support and the ability to bring your foot down smoothly.


Another design aspect that can provide an enormous amount of support to the foot, most running shoes are designed to flex as the foot comes down, usually around the middle of the foot, on the arch. Some more specific brands might also flex at the toe if you are the sort of runner who lands primarily on the balls of your feet.

Walking shoes, on the other hand, will flex primarily at the toe because when you are walking, you don’t need impact support. But a flexible toe helps you to push off the ground and eases the strain on your heel and Achilles tendon.

Flexibility is hugely important for both types of shoe, so make sure you understand what you are looking for and why when you are buying running or walking shoes.  

Can you wear running shoes for walking?

As long as they provide adequate support, running shoes are usually fine to wear for walking. The only exception to this rule is if you are going for long walks on rough terrain or hiking. If this is the case, you are going to want a walking shoe with a lot of ankle support.

Can you wear walking shoes for running?

Unfortunately, because of the difference in support and flexibility, almost all walking shoes are not suited for running.

If you run in walking shoes, the lack of support and flexibility will most probably result in an injury, whether short or long-term.

In our opinion, it is not recommended even to go running in walking shoes to ‘try it out.’ Instead, always invest in a decent pair of running shoes. Not only will you reduce your chances of injury, but you will also enjoy the process a whole lot more.  

The Verdict: The Difference Between Walking and Running Shoes

Hopefully, now you understand the difference between walking and running shoes enough that you can make a well-informed decision on what you need, and what is right for your situation.

As always, if in doubt, your local sports retailers or shoe shop will be able to guide you through the process. But now you are armed with all this knowledge; you should be able to get what you need, every single time.

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