So you want to buy a pair of shoes for long distance walking. Any pair of running shoes should do the job, after all there can't be that big a difference between running and walking right? However there is a lot of fundamental difference between the two activities, as well the shoes that are needed to support them.
Although you might think that walking is just slow-paced running, there are huge differences in how the human body moves during these two activities. That difference results in pressure being exerted upon completely different areas of the feet, resulting in the need for a difference in shoe design.
But first we need to understand the differences in how our legs and feet move while we are running and walking.
Running exerts much more pressure on the heels then walking, and the take-off motion that occurs prior to lifting a foot starts from the forefoot. Running shoes are designed with extra cushioning on the heels, and a more flexible toe and fore-foot region. In fact, during running your feet experience a pressure of 2-3 times the body weight, and your feet spend more time in the air then they do on the ground.
While walking, your feet experiences 1-2 times weight of the body and the motion is much flatter, i.e. pressure is distributed evenly across the entire sole. It spreads from the heels till the toes, and unlike running your feet spend less time in the air and more time on the ground.
Also, you might notice that during running you usually have only one foot on the ground at any given time, but while walking both of your feet are on the ground at the same time.
So now that you know the basic differences, you must have understood that walking and running are designed quite differently and wearing the right shoes for long periods will prevent muscle strain, back pain and fatigue.
So, how to differentiate between a running and a walking shoe when you're out in the shop trying to buy one?
Well, running shoes tend to have thicker cushioning around the heels and a stiffer sole. They are also equipped with extra mesh for increased ventilation since running generates a lot more heat and sweat than walking does in a shorter period of time.
Walking shoes on the other hand, tend to have flatter heels and are evenly cushioned from the heel to the toe. They have a more flexible sole near the ball-toe region to allow for extra freedom of motion while taking a step forward. Ventilation is there, but less than a running shoe.
Also, running shoes tend to be heavier than walking shoes due to the extra cushioning around the heels and the thicker soles. You can also see that runners require more traction, so their shoes come with more prominent grip patterns on the bottom.
So, if you want to enjoy a good walking experience buy a comfortable pair that fits your feet well, we advise getting one size larger than your actual, since your feet tend to swell by up to 30-40% during walking.
Walk to the shoe store so that your feet are already at maximum size when you try out a new pair of shoes. While trying out the shoes, make sure that there is about half an inch of space between your big toe and the foremost tip of the shoe.
Long distance walking can be done with almost any pair of high quality walking shoes however the most important factor is that you should buy a pair that is light and well padded, and has ample ventilation.
Walking for long periods will cause your feet to get hotter and sweat more than regular walking, so make sure to get a pair with a decent amount of mesh for cooling your feet.
In case you want some great recommendations from us, here are two walking shoe models that are really favored among walkers:
Equipped with an amazingly flexible, yet highly durable rubber sole, and constructed from a combination of synthetic-fabric materials, the Asics Neo4 is quite simply one of the most comfortable and durable walking shoes in the market right now.
It is lightweight, has breathable meshes and a removable insole along with an abrasion-resistant sole.
Gel cushioning on the soles allows you to walk for miles with any feeling of discomfort, and the side bunion window is designed for a great fit on feet of any shape.
Even though these shoes seem less sporty compared to what other manufacturers have to offer, don't be fooled by the simple looks- this shoe is designed for professional walkers and is built to last. Its unique looks allow you to use it as both a walking shoe, and a dress shoe.
It has a removable insole and amazingly comfortable rubber soles that are quite flexible, and the cushioning around the ball-toe area is excellent. It is especially good for people with wide feet, and has a slip resistant design.