What is the Difference Between Running and Walking Shoes? – Stop Buying the Wrong Type of Shoes for Your Kid

I have noticed how several families allow their kids to practice sports and high-impact activities wearing casual/walking shoes instead of good supportive sneakers. Your kids walking and running shoes look very similar, but they serve two very different purposes. When we look closely at the two activities and the impact that they place on your kids’ feet and their footwear, the two are really quite different. These differences affect the requirements and designs of two very different types of shoes.

Do You Need to Buy Two Different Sets of Shoes?

You don’t need to get your child two different types of shoes, since a running shoe —which is a multi-purpose type of shoe— can be used for everyday walking and high-impact activities as well.

Running shoes can easily be mistaken for walking shoes, and the other way around. Keep in mind that your kids’ feet impact the ground differently when walking and running, and your kids’ shoes must accommodate this difference.

Running is a high-impact activity. There is a huge difference in the impact of the ground on your kid’s feet when walking rather than running. Did you know that when walking, kids impact the ground with 1.5 times their body weight? However, when they run, they impact the ground with 3 times their body weight.

Certain running shoes are better than others in terms of support, comfort, flexibility, and durability, and these are the types of running shoes that I will describe shortly.

What is the Difference Between Running and Walking Shoes?

Let’s take a look at the image below which shows the difference between a pair of walking and running shoes. Do you notice how the walking shoe has a flatter outsole compared to the running shoe?

Let me explain to you the main difference between walking and running shoes: Running shoes can be used for both walking and running, while walking shoes are meant for everyday walking but not for running or high-impact activities.

When children are walking, their body weight is distributed more evenly on the foot than when they are running. Walking shoes tend to be more flexible than running shoes and they also tend to have better arch support to protect the foot where the impact is heaviest.

On the other side, running shoes tend to have more cushioning and support around the heel —the main point of impact when running for most people— and less protection through the ball of the foot. When we are running, our feet tend to sweat more, which is the main reason that running shoes have more mesh than walking shoes – to keep the feet cooler during exercise.

I always recommend parents provide their children with one good pair of running shoes, that way they can wear them as their everyday shoes. Now that we know what is the difference between running and walking shoes, let’s figure out how you can find out your child’s exact foot size from home. This is going to be helpful if you tend to buy your kids’ shoes online.

Do You Have Your Child’s Accurate Foot Size?

I always recommend parents take their kids to be properly fitted for shoes at the local shoe store that they trust, where a shoe fitter can properly measure their feet and find shoes that fit.

Not all parents have a good-fitting children’s shoe store in their area. That is the reason why I decided to create a resource where I describe the best-fitting children’s shoe stores by state.

How to Retrieve Your Child’s Exact Foot Length and Shape

If after looking at that resource you still can’t seem to find a kids’ shoe store in your area, then proceed to read an article I created where I describe the simplest, yet most effective way to determine your child’s foot size from home. In that article I help parents determine their child’s exact foot size and whether the child has narrow, medium, wide, or extra wide feet. I also will be able to tell you whether your child has a high instep or not.

Now that you know what is the difference between running and walking shoes and how to figure out your child’s exact foot size from home, you are ready to take a look at a selection of the best running shoes for kids.

I only write reviews of shoe styles that I have fitted before, otherwise, I wouldn’t know how well-made they are, the amount of support that they provide, and how they fit.

The Best Running Shoes for Kids: These Styles Fit Narrow or Medium Feet

The Best Running Shoes for Kids: These Styles Fit Medium, Wide or Extra Wide Feet

I always recommend parents provide their children with shoes that come with shoelaces instead of velcro closure, since shoelaces provide more support and stability for your child.

If your child doesn’t know how to tie his or her shoes yet, I wrote a post where I describe the simplest, yet most effective way to teach a child how to tie his/her shoes.

Walking shoes have good support and require less cushioning, but they tend to be heavier than running shoes. I would not recommend walking shoes for kids, since they don’t offer the support they need for their everyday activities. Remember that kids are always running around.

Did you know that your kid’s feet tend to swell up over the day due to the long hours of walking and standing that their feet endure? Make sure you have them try on their shoes at the end of the day to ensure they will be comfortable throughout.

What Are the Best Running Socks for Kids?

The socks your kids wear when trying on a pair of shoes should also be the same type that they would normally wear with their everyday sneakers.

Wearing the right type of socks plays a huge role in keeping your kids’ and legs healthy. Socks act as a barrier between your kids’ feet and the shoes, preventing the formation of bacteria. The socks need to be seamless since this feature allows your kids’ toes to freely move and prevent your kids’ toes to overlap one another.

Now that you know the difference between walking and running shoes, you can make the most informed decision. I recommend that you get your children a pair of good, supportive, running shoes so they can walk, play and run around all day without hurting their feet or legs.

Are Any Other Shoe Choices Available?

Do not hesitate to contact me directly via email if you have any further questions or if you need a different pair of shoes for your child.

Have you tried a particular shoe style that has worked well for your child’s feet? Please share your findings below so other parents can benefit from your experiences.