Your shoe may be fit for a walk when you’re actually going for a run.

When it comes to finding the right shoe for exercising not all shoes are created equal.  Some may think if you purchase a good, expensive pair of shoes then they will work for all forms of exercise.  This is not the case.  Your body reacts differently to all types of exercise especially walking and running.  Which means you will need a particular type of shoe to accommodate for the different types of movement.  Let’s take a look at the dynamics of running vs. walking to get a better idea of the movement patterns.

Walking pattern

The walking pattern is pretty standard for most.  There are three phases:

Heel Strike: When the heel first makes contact with the ground

Mid Stance: When the majority of the foot makes contact with the ground

Toe-off: The forefoot makes the majority of contact with the ground

Running Pattern

Running pattern tends to be a little more complicated and is different for most, starting with the strike pattern (When the foot first makes contact with the ground).

Rearfoot (Heel Strike): The most common foot strike amongst runners, the rearfoot or heel strike has you hitting the pavement with the back of your foot.  Your stride reaches out in front of your body as you run instead of staying squarely underneath your hips.

Midfoot: In this foot strike, the center of your foot lands on the pavement to evenly distribute the shock of impact. You should feel like your weight is balanced over your hips, knees, and ankles.  With this pattern, you’ll probably notice you can maintain high, consistent speeds and have a higher running cadence than other athletes.

Forefoot: This strike pattern places the weight of impact on your toes and ball of the foot, so your heels rarely hit the ground between steps.  It’s likely that your upper body is bent forward in this foot strike position, and you might experience frequent cramps in your calves and around your Achilles tendon.

Now that we have discussed the dynamics of running vs walking, lets talk about the components of shoes that make up the perfect pair for your needs.


Runners: Cushioning is particularly important, especially in the heel and forefoot.

Walkers: This is not as important for walkers and may just cause extra unneeded weight to the shoe.

Heel Height

Runners: It is important to have a built-up heel to provide stability.

Walkers: No need for a higher heel.

Heel Flair

Runners: An extra flair may provide more stability especially in runners who strike with their midfoot or forefoot.

Walkers: A flair is unnecessary for walking shoes and may impede the ability to roll through their foot properly.


Runners/Walkers:  Both require flexible in a shoe, but if stability and motion control are more important you may have to forgo some flexibility.



Runners: A light weight shoe helps with faster movement.

Walkers: Are not as light as runner shoes but tend to be a little heavier.

A few other components that may affect the type of exercise shoe you are looking to purchase including whether you may overpronate or supinate, type of additional support you may need and your specific strike pattern (for running). An appropriate shoe is always key no matter what type of activity you are looking to perform.  Once you have chosen your exercise style and understand the general type of shoe you are looking for head to the local running store in town and get moving!

Written By: Jennifer Stoner, LPTA
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