Is it possible to wear running shoes for walking? I ask a footwear expert.
Runners may benefit from their biomechanical properties to help them run faster, but can walking shoes be used as running shoes if we decide to take things slower?
Walking is different from running. Running is characterized by a moment when both feet are in the air but one foot is always on the ground when strolling. In other words, choosing the right shoes for walking is more complicated than simply slipping on an old pair of running shoes.
During walking and running, muscle function differs, according to a study published in the Journal of Biomechanics Researchers determined that running increases the power output of certain leg muscles – specifically the soleus, hips, and knee extensors. In walking and running, all the other muscle groups distributed mechanical power as well as supported and propelled the body forward. When we walk and run, it seems like our muscles work in similar ways.
ACE Feet in Motion’s clinical lead MSK podiatrist Matt Hart explains whether running shoes could also be worn for walking.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN WALKING SHOES AND RUNNING SHOES?
According to Hart, it’s essential to distinguish walking/hiking shoes from everyday shoes.
He explains that walking shoes usually have a more protective outer layer to guard against rain, stones, mud, brambles, and twigs. In the ankle area, the upper can provide more or less support. Additionally, the midsole is thicker and more durable, and the tread is made up of deeper lugs for better traction on muddy or rocky terrain.
A soft, cushioned midsole and inner shoe lining make general trainers such as Skechers more comfortable. Softness and flexibility, however, can pose problems as they do not provide support around the foot and ankle. Studies have found that these types of shoes can increase joint and soft tissue stress, depending on the biomechanics of the wearer.
The sizing of these types of shoes can also be challenging since they are often only available in one width and in full sizes. Consequently, proper fitting is reduced, as well as the ability to accommodate natural foot swelling as you walk.
Related: Is walking helpful for your muscles?
Unlike hiking shoes and everyday trainers, running shoes are designed differently. In running shoes, the upper is designed to be more breathable and flexible. It is one piece, reducing the risk of rubbing or irritation from seams. These shorts are available in half sizing and a range of width fittings, so they can be tailored to the individual.
Read more: How shoes should fit for running
Some running shoes have supportive features (two density medial posting, guide rails, midsole flaring, reinforced heel counters, and increased longitudinal bending stiffness). Some forefoot rockers also help people with reduced mobility in their big toe joint, decreased ankle dorsiflexion, and Achilles tendon and plantar heel pain.
There are also differences in heel-to-toe height among running shoes to accommodate ankle issues (a drop between 10 and 12 millimeters) or knee injuries (4 to 0 millimeters). Since this may affect how stress is placed on various parts of the lower limb, it is very vital for this differential to be considered.
Running shoes also have better cushioning due to the fact that they are designed to reduce shock from higher impact loads than walking shoes. Therefore, they will be more durable, explains Hart. The outsoles of running shoes are often similar to those of walking/hiking shoes or boots, which offer extra traction and durability compared to regular trainers.
ARE RUNNING SHOES suitable for walking? WHAT IS the risk involved?
Yes, that’s right. There’s a reasonable chance you’ll benefit from it. Walking on a sidewalk or smooth surface is best done with road shoes, but mud or off-road surfaces are better suited to trail sneakers.
As a result, a walking/hiking shoe will provide more support and protection than a running trail shoe.
Walking on the sidewalk or using the most appropriate treadmill for walking can actually be more comfortable and fit better in running shoes. This is because you can get a more specific width and size.
Research has shown that shock absorption and rebound play a role in heel cushioning when running and walking. Researchers concluded in a paper in Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting that “suitable running shoes can in most cases satisfy biomechanical needs during walking.”.
Using old running shoes with degraded foam or not having grippy enough lugs are the only real risks when walking in running shoes. Hard says running shoes with EVA foam quickly degrade, even if they haven’t been worn. Running shoes should be newer if you intend to walk in them.
IN WALKING SHOES, FOR WHAT PURPOSE DO YOU WALK?
Choosing the right running shoes is extremely significant. People tend to think that the softer a shoe feels, the more cushioning it has, and thus the better it reduces impact. A softer shoe stiffens the ankle, causing the foot to strike more quickly, which can increase stress and impact.
Whenever you choose a shoe, make sure it fits and feels comfortable. When you place your foot in a shoe, Hart says, it should not bulge, indicating that it is too narrow for the foot. Furthermore, the heel should be no wider than half a thumb at the end to allow for expansion and swelling.
Don’t forget to consider the surfaces you’ll walk on. Runners are better suited than hiking boots or everyday trainers to walking on streets and sidewalks.
However, if you’re planning on hiking trails, look for a hiking shoe or a trail running shoe.
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