Can You Wear Running Shoes for Fitness Walking?

Man Walking
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Are running shoes good for fitness walking? Shouldn't you wear walking shoes rather than running shoes for walking? The answer is that some, but not all, running shoes work well for fitness walking. Learn how to tell which shoes are best for brisk walking.

Running Shoes May Work Better Than Many So-Called Walking Shoes

Not all running shoes are perfect for walking. But the other side of the coin is that many shoes that are labeled as walking shoes are even worse for fitness walking than any running shoe.

Many walking shoe models are designed for comfort wear or workplace use rather than fitness walking. They may be inflexible and heavy.

Walkers need shoes that flex in the forefoot in order to get proper foot motion during a stride. Walkers do not need as much heavy cushioning as is found in comfort shoes or cushioned running shoes since they have far less impact with each step than runners.

Running shoes are usually a better bet than buying a shoe labeled as a walking shoe. Even when comparing fitness walking shoes with running shoes, the running shoe models incorporate more of the latest developments for cushioning, motion control, and support. Often, when you buy a shoe labeled as a walking shoe, you aren't getting the latest materials and construction techniques. For example, there are many new materials that provide shock absorption with lighter weight. You may find that built into running shoes but not in walking shoes from the same company.

What to Look for in Running Shoes for Fitness Walking

  1. Flexible: You should be able to bend and flex the shoe in the forefoot. But if they are so flexible that you can bend them in half with ease, as is the case with minimalist or barefoot shoes, they may not provide enough structure and support for longer walks.
  1. Low Heel: Some running shoes have a built up heel to support runners who land on the ball of the foot. There is a trend towards less of a heel-to-toe drop for runners as well as walkers, and shoes will often list this drop in millimeters (mm). Look for shoes with a drop of 10 mm or less.
  2. No Flare: A true fitness walking shoe has a heel that is undercut, that angles in from the heel to the ground. Walkers land on the heel and do not need a built-up or flared heel. Many running shoes, and especially trail running shoes, have a flared heel for stability for runners who land on the arch or ball of their foot. The best you can look for is little or no flare.
  3. Fit: Visit the most serious running shoe store in your area to have foot analysis and gait analysis. They will determine whether you need motion control shoes, stability shoes, or can wear neutral lightweight trainers. The staff there will be able to recommend the best type of shoe for your walking needs.

By learning how to select good walking shoes you can compare both running shoes and walking shoes to find the model that fits your foot the best.

Top Picks for Walking Shoes

You will see many running shoes selected as good models for fitness walking, using the principles outlined.

  • Top Picks for Motion Control Shoes: This category is for those who overpronate. At a running shoe store, they will check your gait and look at the soles of your current shoes to determine whether you should use motion control shoes.
  • Top Picks for Stability Shoes: You may be directed towards these shoes if you have mild overpronation and if you are heavier, as they often will hold up better.
  • Top Picks for Cushioned Shoes: If you walk long distances or on hard surfaces and experience a lot of leg and fatigue, you may need shoes with more cushioning. Some models use lighter materials and so the shoes may not be heavy.

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