Before making any decision on the kind of shoe to buy, determine the activity you intend to use it for. Do you anticipate running in it? Is it for walking? If you are undecided, then you are at a crossroads, deciding between running vs walking shoes.
Using the appropriate shoe is vital for maintaining correct body posture and natural body movement. It helps reduce the tension on the part that absorbs it the most.
Having the right shoe for a specific activity prevents minor foot pain and long-term injuries as well. However, with the overwhelming number of shoes today, choosing the best one could be challenging. For that, you can rely on us.
The Body Mechanics When Running or Walking
To have a better understanding of the differences of each footwear, let us look at the two activities and the demands they place on the foot and the shoe.
Most animals land on the balls of their feet; humans are the exception. Only humans land on the heels of the foot while running. This movement gives us longer virtual legs or leg extension that enables us to move faster than running on the balls of the feet.
Running puts uneven tension on the foot. The outer heel absorbs the most impact before it distributes the body weight through the foot up to the toe. As each stance puts either foot off the ground, running requires the support of two to three times our body weight.
The pendulum effect can explain this movement from the heel through the toe. The feet are the stationary pivot while the body swings up and over. The human body looks like an inverted pendulum as it moves while running.
Walking, on the other hand, distributes body weight evenly. The pressure moves from the heel through the ball up to the toe. This gentle motion necessitates the foot to absorb at least one to two times of the body weight on each step.
Although it looks natural and simple, the body mechanics while walking are complex. Aside from the feet, the hips, arms, shoulders, spine, and the head move across the ground too. It usually begins when the feet are positioned forward apart. The body weight is then transferred to the forward foot.
As the weight goes to the forward foot, the knee bends to absorb the tension. Then, the knee straightens out and lifts the body. At this point, the weight-bearing foot transfers the pressure at the ball of the foot.
Running vs Walking Shoes
At first glance, these two types of footwear seem very similar, which is why many people often use the wrong kind of shoe for a specific activity. Sometimes, they wear shoes with less cushioning for running, while others walk in stiff shoes. This leads to muscle pain, blisters, and other foot pains.
Running vs walking shoes have different characteristics. This means that runners should not run in walking shoes because they are too stiff and don’t flex. On the other hand, fitness walkers should not walk in running shoes because they are too light and have less cushioning.
Features for Specific Body Mechanics
Now that you have a clearer understanding of the body mechanics while walking and while running, we go forward to the qualities of each type of shoe. We will look into the shoe characteristics and features that are more appropriate for particular sets of body mechanics.
Runners experience impact three times their body weight, while fitness walkers get only 1.5 times. Therefore, runners need extra cushioning in the heel and front foot than walkers do. More cushioning is also required when you intend to run more than six miles at a time.
Walkers need little cushioning, just enough so that the legs and feet don’t feel battered from the tension on the ground. Cushioning adds more weight, which is not suitable for a walking shoe. Less cushioning and weight enables the walkers to run or walk faster.
Both walking shoes and running shoes should be flexible. One of their differences is where flexibility is incorporated. Most running shoes are flexible on the midfoot or arch. Some flex most at the front foot. The placement of flexibility in running shoes depends on the wearer’s pronation.
On the other hand, walking shoes flex at the front foot because fitness walkers push off with their toes. Unfortunately, many shoes marketed as fitness walking shoes don’t bend at all. Some of them flex at the arch, which doesn’t lay out the platform needed for walking.
The proper heel height varies according to the individual runner. Runners may strike the ground first on the midfoot, front part of their heel, or the ball of their foot. This body mechanics is called the heel-to-toe drop, which can be addressed by the heel height of a shoe.
For fitness walkers, they need shoes that have the minimum difference in height from the heel through the toe. It is the so-called heel drop that comes in millimeters. Fitness walking shoes should have a heel drop of less than eight mm, preferably four mm or less.
Fitness walkers do not need heel flare because they strike the surface with their heel. Otherwise, it will only hinder the motion of rolling forward through a step, causing foot pain and leg muscle ache. Ideally, a walking shoe should have an undercut heel.
On the other hand, running shoes need a flared heel for added stability. It is especially true for runners who strike the ground first on their front foot or midfoot. The flared heel design is often seen in trail running shoes.
Understanding how your body moves while you walk or run helps you identify the appropriate shoes for you. What do we mean by this? It is quite simple, actually.
Does your midfoot strike the ground first? Then it would help if you had extra stability running shoes. Do you walk long distances at a time? Then it would be best if you had more flexibility in your fitness walking shoes.
The information contained in this article empowers you over the hundreds of shoes in the market. You will no longer be misinformed by marketing campaigns that present the best shoes for your particular fitness needs. Whether it’s a running shoe or a walking shoe, remember that it should fit well and support the natural motions of your foot as it pushes you forward.