Do you believe that wearing walking shoes for running is the same?
At first glance, running and walking seem very similar. Working and walking seem very similar. But when you look closely at the two activities and the demands they place on your feet and your footwear, the two are quite different really. Differences that affect the need for, and design of, two very different styles of shoes. But before we get to the shoes, let’s check out walking and running and the body mechanics involved with each.
As you walk, the body’s weight is distributed more evenly on the foot than when you run. When walking, your weight rolls from the heel, through the ball and continues to the toe in one foot after the other. This gentler, rocking-chair like motion requires your feet to absorb the shock of only 1-2x your body weight with each step. And, during walking there are points where both ft are on the ground firmly, dividing weight.
Running, on the other hand (or foot for that matter) requires the support of at least 2-3x your body weight and each stride offers times with neither foot on the ground. With each step, the outer heel absorbs most of the impact before distributing weight through the foot in an S motion through toe away. So what’s this mean to your shoes? Basically, it’s the old axiom of having the right tool for the job.
Walking shoes are designed with the specific body mechanics and strike path of walking in mind. They are constructed to be more flexible through the ball of the foot to allow a greater range of motion through the roll of the forefoot. They also have greater arch support to protect where the potent force can be heaviest on the foot. Running shoes, in contrast, have more cushioning in the heel-the point of impact-and less protection through the ball of the foot. The amount of heat generated in the operating motion is greater, so running shoes also are made with a higher level of mesh to keep feet cool during exercise. Picking the proper shoes can prevent irritation, injury and will encourage you to maintain an active lifestyle. When you shop for shoes, put on the socks you exercise in. The shoes should be comfortable as you put them on soon. The heel ought to snugly fit, not slip up out from the shoe. If the shoes are tight, do not expect them to stretch out, if they look stylish even. Since feet swell during the full day, shop for shoes in the afternoon or after a long walk. To prevent painful blisters, calluses, and to avoid foot disorders like hammertoes and bunions, check for enough room on the relative sides of your feet, above your toes, and about a half-inch between the final end of your longest toe and the shoe. When picking a new pair of walking shoes, be sure to consider your arch type. You can determine this by bringing an old shoe to the store with you, or by dampening your foot and placing it on a piece of paper. What does your footprint look like? If you don’t see much of a footprint, you have a high arch. If it is wide, your feet are flat.
Feet with high arches might be prone to stress because of the lack of natural shock absorption. Seek shoes with cushioning to alleviate this nagging problem. If your feet are flat, they may not support the physical body well, leading to muscle and joint stress in your knees and feet. Walking shoes that are more structured will give you stability. Look for shoes with medial (inside) support to limit over-pronation and support your feet.
It is most important that you choose either walking shoes or running shoes that feel comfortable so that you do not avoid exercising. Once your shoes are worn out, they must be replaced. If you can see through the outer sole to the midsole, or feel the support buckling as you exercise, it is time for a new pair. Well-made shoes degrade eventually even. The best advice is to keep track of the mileage on your shoe. On average, shoes last 300-500 miles roughly, so if you walk for exercise, keeping a weekly log of miles shall help you understand when your shoes will be ready to be replaced.
The best way to ensure that you shall enjoy exercising is to have gear that fits right. Whether you decide walking, running, or cross-training is the best activity for you, now you can make an informed decision about the shoes that will help you achieve your goals. In the end, walking shoes can be used for running and running shoes can be used for walking? The difference is up to how you use.
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