Mon – Fri: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
Sat : 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Sun : 10:00 am – 4:00 pm *


Woman walking down an outdoor trail in walking shoes

Walking Shoes Vs. Running Shoes: What’s the Difference?

While they often look similar, running shoes have athletic shoe features and specialized running shoe technology that set them apart from walking shoes. However, high-quality walking shoes are still designed to fit comfortably and provide arch support and cushioning – after all, walking is still a form of physical activity! The main difference is that running shoes propel us forward, enhance our performance abilities and are designed with more shock absorption. But there’s still more to discover when comparing walking vs. running shoes. We’re here to break it down for you.

Main Differences Between Walking Vs. Running Shoes

  • Flexibility
  • Cushioning
  • Shoe design
  • Additional differences


The most flexible parts of the shoe vary between walking and running shoes. notes that running shoes have more flexibility in the midfoot and arch so users can push off using the ball of the foot. Walking shoes have more flexible soles to support steady heel-to-toe movement.  


Again, both walking and running shoes have good levels of cushioning, but it is distributed according to the shoe design and activity (running vs. walking). Running shoes often have more cushioning in the heel and forefoot. This is to absorb impact from the ground’s harsh effects on the joints and muscles, distribute energy efficiently, and provide comfort during strenuous exercise. Walking shoes, on the other hand, provide comfort by placing more cushioning in the midsole and arch areas to encourage comfortable, long walks.

Shoe Design

Walking and running shoes are crafted with different needs in mind. For instance, running shoes tend to be lighter to enhance agility and reduce fatigue. They also often have mesh uppers (perforated fabric) to promote breathability and allow air flow to enter and leave the shoe environment. This reduces foot odour and helps keep your feet feeling fresh and clean. Conversely, walking shoes can be heavier and include thicker materials since they are accommodating slower-paced, sustained movements.

Additional Key Differences Between Walking and Running Shoes

  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: The heel-to-toe drop is the height difference between the heel and forefoot on the bottom of the shoe, measured in millimeters. Walking shoes usually have a lower heel-to-toe drop to encourage a more natural stride, whereas running shoes may have a slightly higher drop for an efficient push off. 
  • Traction and Grip Pattern: Both walking and running shoes need good traction to prevent slips, falls and injuries, but running shoes may have a more intricate traction pattern since running is a riskier activity. 
  • Soles: Running shoes have stiffer soles, which helps with swift movements and lets you run faster. Walking shoes may have thinner soles because a closer connection to the ground is safer for walking than running. 

Not Sure What Shoes You Need? Don't Sweat it!

Whether you’re strolling through the neighbourhood or hitting the treadmill at the gym, the right pair of shoes can make a significant difference in your comfort and performance. Come to Feet First Clinic today for a complimentary shoe fitting session! You can also call us at (416) 769-3338 or book an appointment for even more insight!

Related Posts

Request an Appointment

Our simple to use, online booking process makes it easy to book an appointment with a chiropodist for any of our services. No referral needed!

Carolina Charles

Patient Relation Coordinator (She/Her)

If you’ve been to the clinic before, chances are you had the pleasure of meeting Carolina! Carolina’s daily goal is going above and beyond to make sure patients are always completely satisfied. Having worked in the podiatry industry for 22 years, Carolina brings a wealth of knowledge pertaining to client service, insurance policies, and procedures.​ She steers the ship to make sure everything runs smoothly on the daily. Carolina is known for spicing up every outfit with her signature costume jewellery.