Running Shoes Vs. Walking Shoes

Running Shoes vs Walking Shoes

Have you ever wondered why we have different shoes for different purposes? Because each shoe has its unique characteristics and is specially designed for a particular activity. So today, we are comparing running shoes with walking shoes.

Running shoes are lightweight, more breathable, and provide extra cushioning. They are specially designed to help you run fast without tiring your feet. On the other hand, walking shoes are likely heavier with more cushioning and stability. They are both designed in such a way to aid your natural movement.

Running and walking are two different activities with different foot movements, so they require two different types of footwear. You cannot wear running shoes for walking or walking shoes for running since it may affect your performance and foot health. Let’s look at these differences in more detail!


Cushioning In Running Shoes

  • Running shoes are designed in such a way to aid your running and enhance your feet’s performance.
  • A runner’s foot strikes the ground more forcefully than a walker’s; therefore, they need more cushioning in the forefoot and heel part of their shoes.
  • Due to running’s impact force on your feet and legs, you need shoes with more cushioning. Therefore, running shoes come with a lot of padding to save your foot, leg, and heel from getting hurt.
  • Running shoes are not just cushioned in the heel. Instead, the cushioning is applied throughout because some runners land on their midfoot or forefoot. 

Cushioning In Walking Shoes

  • On the other hand, a walker always has one foot on the ground. Therefore, they do not need forefoot cushioning in their shoes.
  • Walking shoes with less heel cushioning are ideal for walkers. Also, extra cushioning makes shoes heavier, which is not suitable for walkers.
  • There is usually no need for additional cushioning in walking shoes because they need to be light. However, the heel of walking shoes has some cushioning since walkers hit the ground with their heels.
  • While extra padding is not required in walking shoes to keep them lightweight, additional shock absorbers are provided to protect your heels and feet. These shock absorbers protect your foot, heel, and ankles from getting injured.
  • If you are a fitness walker, a lighter shoe with sufficient cushioning can work well. In this way, the impact of long walks won’t hurt your feet and legs.

Heel Height

Walking and running are two different activities, and so their movement and foot strikes on the ground differ similarly. Therefore, the type of shoe and heel height is also different. Choosing the right heel height is also crucial if you have any foot issues, but you need to consult your podiatrist first.

Both activities require different foot strikes. For example, when you run at one point, both your feet are off the ground, but you always have one foot down while walking.

Heel Height of Running Shoes

  • Running shoes come with different built-up heels to support runners’ feet.
  • When running, each individual’s foot strikes the ground differently. For example, runners may hit the ground with the ball of their foot, midfoot, or heels. Therefore, running shoes come with different heel-to-toe drops.
  • Running shoes have over 7mm heel-to-toe drop for runners who land on their heels and 0 to 6 mm heel-to-toe drop for those who land on midfoot or forefoot.

Heel Height of Walking Shoes

  • While walking, each individual first strikes the ground with their heels and then rolls through their steps. Therefore, they do not require any heel height.
  • You should look for walking shoes with a minimum height difference between heel and toe (heel-toe drop) as a walker.
  • I recommend a heel drop of 4mm or less for walking shoes. But make sure to check the actual heel drop rather than just looking at the shoe’s outer sole. 

Heel Shape

Heel Shape of Running Shoes

  • Runners need extra stability because they strike the ground with their midfoot or forefoot. That is why running shoes usually have flared heels, especially trail running shoes.
  • Flared heels can provide a bit of additional stability for runners.

Heel Shape of Walking Shoes

  • On the other hand, walkers strike the ground with their heels first; therefore, they do not need shoes with flared heels.
  • Flared heel shoes prevent walkers from rolling forward.
  • A good pair of walking shoes have an undercut heel or straight heel because they aid your natural movement and help you move forward when you take a step.
  • If you are looking for good walking shoes, avoid built-up or flared heels.


Walking and running shoes both require some flexibility, but the extent to which they must be flexible is different. Similarly, both types of shoes have flexibility in different areas, depending on the needs and requirements.

Flexibility Of Running Shoes

  • Running shoes are designed differently. While some running shoes are flexible at the arch, others are flexible at mid or forefoot.
  • These running shoes are designed according to runners’ needs. You need to choose the right shoe for your running style.
  • Most running shoes are flexible at the arch or midfoot because You strike the ground with either your midfoot or forefoot, depending on your running style.
  • Running shoes like stability and motion control shoes are less flexible than other running shoes.
  • These shoes are designed to prevent your foot from rotating too much as you take a step. So, if you are looking for motion control shoes, be ready to sacrifice some flexibility.

Flexibility Of Walking Shoes

  • As mentioned above, you need some flexibility in your walking shoes.
  • Different walking shoes have different levels of flexibility.
  • Walking shoes can be flexible at the forefoot, flexible at the arch, or not flexible at all.
  • Most walking shoes are flexible at the forefoot because you roll forward from the heel to the toe when you walk, pushing the ground off with the toe.
  • You can bend a walking shoe or press down the toe to check where the flexibility lies. 
  • If the shoe is bending at the forefoot, it is ideal for fitness walkers since they need to push off with their toes.
  • A walking shoe that doesn’t bend at all has no flexibility, making it unsuitable for walkers. Unfortunately, many walking shoes are available in the market with no flexibility.
  • You should also consider your foot condition or health issues while looking for good walking shoes since you may require extra features or support.

Shoe Weight

Running Shoe Weight

  • Running shoes are mostly lightweight than walking shoes. 
  • Since running is an impact sport, running shoes have more cushioning and padding to protect your feet which may add some weight.
  • However, running shoes need to be lightweight to help you run fast without making your feet tired. 
  • Running requires lightweight shoes since your feet spend most of their time in the air.

Walking Shoe Weight

  • Walking shoes are heavier than running shoes.
  • Walking shoes are usually heavyweight and flexible at the forefoot. As you take a step, your entire foot makes contact with the ground.
  • While walking, less weight is exerted on the ground with each step. Therefore, walking shoes doesn’t require much cushioning and padding as running shoes.
  • However, walking shoes use heavy material at the forefoot and heel. These heavy materials provide extra support and stability to your foot since your foot spends more time in contact with the ground.
  • Typically, walking shoes have beveled heels that comfort your heel striking. It also provides stability and support to the arch of your foot while walking.

Arch Support and Stability

Both walking and running shoes require arch support, stability, and control, but it varies from shoe to shoe.

Arch Support and Stability of Running Shoes

  • Running shoes come with different options like neutral running shoes, stability running shoes, and pronation control running shoes. 
  • Running shoes give you the option of choosing how much arch support you want in your shoe, from mild to heavy.
  • The running shoe you choose depends on your running style, foot shape, and preferences.

Arch Support and Stability of Walking Shoes

  • Walking shoes emphasize durability and support.
  • Walking shoes provide a little cushioning at the heel to help you when you step on the ground.
  • Walking shoes also allow you to choose a neutral or a pronation control shoe. Therefore, I suggest you consult a podiatrist to help you choose the shoe that matches your foot type, your foot characteristics, and your activity.


Breathability In Running Shoes

  • Running shoes are more breathable than walking shoes. 
  • Running is harder and more strenuous on your body and makes your feet hotter, so you need shoes with sufficient airflow.
  • Running shoes are made with breathable material since your feet tend to sweat more while running.
  • Additionally, these breathable materials are lightweight, thus keeping your running shoe light.
  • Running shoes mostly have mesh uppers for the perfect airflow and increased breathability.
  • The extra mesh used on the uppers of running shoes drains out the excess heat and sweat from your shoes during running or other strenuous exercises. 
  • The extra mesh on your running shoes also helps to keep your feet cool.

Breathability In Walking Shoes

  • Walking shoes are less breathable than running shoes. 
  • Walking is less strenuous than other exercises, so walking shoes do not focus on breathability.
  • Walking shoes are not designed to have sufficient airflow because feet don’t sweat very much while walking.
  • Walking shoes are less breathable than running shoes because the emphasis is on durability and support.

Difference Between Running Shoes and Walking Shoes

Running ShoesWalking Shoes
Running shoes can have extra cushioning.Walking shoes may not have extra cushioning.
Running shoes has cushioning at the midfoot and forefoot.Walking shoes have cushioning at the heel.
Running shoes come with different heel-to-toe drops.Walking shoes heel-to-toe drop is not as important.
Running shoes can have built-up or flared heels.Walking shoes have an undercut heel or straight heel.
Running shoes may be less flexible.Walking shoes may be more flexible.
Running shoes can be flexible at the arch or midfoot.Walking shoes can be flexible at the arch or forefoot.
Running shoes are mostly lightweight.Walking shoes can be heavier.
Running shoes typically weigh between 6.5 and 13 ounces.Walking shoes can weigh between 12 to 42 ounces.
Running shoes emphasize arch support and motion control.Walking shoes emphasize durability, stability, and support.
Running shoes are more breathable.Walking shoes may be less breathable.
Running shoes can be made with breathable polyester or mesh upper.Walking shoes can be made with fabric or leather/suede upper.
Running shoes often have soft and flexible soles.Walking shoes have often flexible soles but softness varies.
Difference Between Running Shoes and Walking Shoes
CharacteristicsRunning ShoesWalking Shoes
CushioningExtra cushioningNo extra cushioning
Heel-to-toe dropOver 7mmLess than 8mm
Heel ShapeThick heel wedges/flared heelsBeveled heels
FlexibilityMay be Less flexibleMore flexible
SoleSometimes Stiffer soleFlexible sole
BreathabilityMore breathableLess breathable
MeshExtra meshNo extra mesh
StabilityMore stabilityLess stability
Comparison Based On Characteristics

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