Ever heard of “shrink ’em and pink ’em” ?
That’s how shoe companies jokingly brief their designers to create a women’s version of a shoe. Or at least this was the standard until a few years ago.
Last year, women represented 58% of all the 5k races in the USA, 61% of half-marathons and 43% of all marathons.
Finally shoe companies are realizing women are a large part of the running population and that women bodies are different than men’s.
Wider Q-angles, lower body mass and different feet shape are just some of the physiological differences that grant women different needs when talking about the ideal running shoe.
While the need for women’s specific running shoes isn’t immediately obvious, there are several factors about a typical woman’s biomechanics that require consideration during the design phase of running shoes.
Wider Hips Mean Extra Stress
The first factor is that women have larger hips than men, making it more common for women to pronate outside of the normal range.
According to a report by Runner’s World runner’s knee tends to strike women nearly twice as frequently because of the added stress.
To remedy this issue, a little extra support either through slightly different midsoles or outsoles can go a long way.
Lower Body Mass
In general, women have about 15% lower body mass than men, though this can vary among individuals.
This lower body mass means that shoe designers must consider how much foam is necessary in the midsole (women will likely need a little less), meaning that women’s shoes tend to be slighter lower, softer, and lighter than the men’s version.
In addition, groves in women’s shoes tend to be slightly deeper, making it easier to flex the midsole on toe-off and accounting for the lower body mass.
Engineers also should consider the fact that men’s feet tend to be broader and longer on average.
Women’s feet, on the other hand, have different shape characteristics, especially in the arch, toe, and ball of the foot. To ensure that the sole unit is responsive and fits the foot properly, these factors should be considered.
These are the running shoes we recommend for women.
Which ones do you run in ? Let us know in the comments !
Don’t forget to check out our selection of the best running shoes, constantly updated.