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Can You Wear Running Shoes for Fitness Walking?


Updated May 16, 2014

Reebok ZQuick Shoes

Reebok ZQuick Shoes

Wendy Bumgardner ©

Question: Can You Wear Running Shoes for Fitness Walking?

Are running shoes good for fitness walking? Shouldn't you wear walking shoes rather than running shoes for walking?

Answer: Not all running shoes are good for walking, but most shoes you see designated as walking shoes at the average shoe store are worse. Many walking shoe designs are designed for comfort or workplace use rather than fitness walking. They may be inflexible and heavy. Walkers need flex in the forefoot and do not need as much heavy cushioning as is found in comfort shoes or cushioned running shoes.

Running shoes are usually a better bet. 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.

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 they 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.

2. Low Heel: Some running shoes have higher heels 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

Walking Shoe Guide
How to choose the right shoes and lists of the top shoes for each category.

Top Picks for Walking Shoes

Top Picks for Motion Control Shoes
Top Picks for Stability Shoes
Top Picks for Cushioned Shoes
Top Picks for Performance Training Shoes
Top Picks for Racewalking Shoes

More: The Differences Between Running Shoes and Walking Shoes

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