What Is the Difference Between Running Shoes & Walking Shoes?

What Is the Difference Between Running Shoes & Walking Shoes?
Shoe manufacturers recognize that running and walking are two distinct activities that require different designs. A well-stabilized and firm pair of running shoes may be too heavy and not flexible enough for a walker. Consequently, a pair of light and flexible walking shoes may lack enough support and motion control for a runner.


Functions differ between running shoes and walking shoes. Running shoes are often categorized by functionality such as motion control, stability, weight and cushioning. Walking shoes are often judged by their lightness, comfort, fit and flexibility.


Running shoes are generally heavier than walking shoes because runners need more cushioning, tread grip and stability to absorb impact. Walkers do not need as much impact absorption; therefore, shoes are designed with lighter materials and with more emphasis on comfort.


According to the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine, torsional and flexion stability are desirable features for both running shoes and walking shoes. These features assist in protection from the adverse impact of excessive pronation. Lateral stability is also desired to lessen the possibility of ankle sprains for both activities.

Expert Insight

Mark Fenton, author of "The Complete Guide to Walking for Health, Weight loss and Fitness," says that a walker rolls farther off the toes at the end of each stride than a runner. Because of this, a walking shoe should be more flexible through the ball of the foot than a running shoe.


All runners and walkers vary in weight, arch type and pronation. These personal characteristics should also be considered in differentiating between running shoes and walking shoes.

Article Written By Rona Aquino

Rona Aquino began writing professionally in 2008. As an avid marathon runner and outdoor enthusiast, she writes on topics of running, fitness and outdoor recreation for various publications. Aquino holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications and English from the University of Maryland College Park.

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