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Gear and Technology

Can running shoes be used for walking?

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Buying shoes for a very specific purpose, like running, may feel a touch excessive for some people. After all, those shoes can be a real investment, and it's understandable you'd want to use them as much as possible. So, the question naturally arises: Can running shoes be used for walking, too?

Technically, the answer is yes. But should they? Probably not. To understand the proper — and improper — use for those fancy new running shoes of yours, we need to be clear about how running and walking differ.

Form and forces

It's commonly assumed that running is basically just fast walking. The two activities, however, are very different in terms of how your foot interacts with the ground and the stresses experienced by your joints.

While walking, your feet tend to follow a rocking motion from heel to toe with one of your feet touching the ground at all times. During a run, though, there are times that both of your feet are completely off the ground. And, when you do come down, the impact is primarily absorbed by the mid or fore sections of your foot. This means that walking puts less overall stress on your feet, but your feet also have to hold that weight for longer periods of time. Cushioning is also required in different parts of the foot when we compare walking to running.

Generally, walking shoes tend to be more flexible and heavily cushioned than their running-focused counterparts. Walking in running shoes, then, can lead to impact injuries that proper walking shoes are designed to ward off.

Walk it out

So, can running shoes be used for walking? Yes, but we wouldn't recommend it. A lot of the features that make your running shoes awesome for running make them not-so-great for walking. Instead, invest in some well-cushioned, flexible shoes that are specifically crafted to support you on your walks.

Our writer's advice is intended for informational or general educational purposes only. We always encourage you to speak with your physician or healthcare provider before making any adjustments to your running, nutrition, or fitness routines.

Written By
Jonathan Thompson

Fitness Nerd

Jonathan with a dog in the snow

My interest in fitness started young, primarily as the survival strategy of a scrawny asthmatic. After receiving my certifications as a personal trainer and nutritionist, I started writing fitness articles. At this point, running is a non-negotiable part of my life.