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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.

These are the running shoes we recommend for women. Which ones do you run in ? Let us know in the comments!

Best Women's Running Shoes

These are the shoes we recommend for women. There's a selection of neutral, stability, plush, responsive... a little for everyone with a special eye for women.

Asics Gel Cumulus 21 - Lateral Side
The ASICS Gel-Cumulus 21 is a slightly tweaked continuation of a successful line of neutral everyday workhorse shoes. Ideal for heel-striking runners, it is priced well for the technologies packed into the shoe. Read full review »

Pros

  • Durable Outsole and Upper
  • Premium Technologies
  • Useful for almost any run

Cons

  • Stiff and heavy over longer distances
Nike Epic React Flyknit 2 - Pair
Nike’s Epic React Flyknit 2 shoe brings a lot to the table and it all comes together to give runners of all levels a quality daily trainer. It’s a pricey daily trainer, but most will find it’s worth the extra cost. Read full review »

Pros

  • Smooth fitting upper
  • Energizing React Foam
  • Modern styling

Cons

  • Much more expensive than baseline Legend React
  • Lots of exposed foam reduces traction and durability
New Balance 890v7 - Lateral Side
This sleek featherweight shoe is designed for responsive comfort that provides just enough protection without losing connection to the ground.

Its minimal weight and immediate reaction to picking up the pace coupled with a clean transition will make it a go-to shoe for daily training. Read full review »

Pros

  • Lightweight feel
  • Contoured fit
  • Very breathable
  • Responsive ride

Cons

  • Durability
  • Weak heel counter
Saucony Liberty ISO - Lateral Side
The Saucony Liberty ISO gives the right amount of support with a fast and responsive ride. It is an impressive debut in the performance stability realm of running shoes. Read full review »

Pros

  • Fast shoe with just the right amount of support
  • Unique upper. Best use of ISOfit yet
  • Durable sole

Cons

  • Price
Hoka One One Arahi 3 - Lateral Side
The Hoka One One Arahi 3 is a max-cushioned stability shoe built for versatility. The Arahi delivers a lightweight, responsive ride regardless of tempo or distance.

They can feel a tad unstable at times, but The Arahi is still a worthwhile addition to your rotation. Read full review »

Pros

  • Versatility
  • Both responsive and fast midsole cushioning
  • Visually appealing redesign of the upper

Cons

  • A bit unstable at times
  • Lacks cushioning in heel collar and tongue
  • Narrow, especially in the arch
Brooks PureCadence 7 - Medial Side
The Brooks PureCadence 7’s fantastic sole unit and decent upper prepare this lightweight, low-drop shoe to support you over many miles, all for a great price.

This version has (just) a touch more room in the width, but going up a half size is still recommended for the length. Read full review »

Pros

  • Superb sole: cushion, responsiveness, traction
  • Snug midfoot
  • Lightweight
  • Smooth around the ankle with solid heel counter
  • Supportive yet not restrictive

Cons

  • Slight room in the heel
  • Height in forefoot causes me to scuff the front
Hoka One One Clifton 6 - Pair
The Clifton 6 sheds some weight and moves to a softer midsole foam giving it a soft, smooth and highly cushioned ride.

The ride combined with an upgraded upper made of higher quality and more durable materials than in previous years make this a shoe worth looking into. Read full review »

Pros

  • Smooth Ride
  • Improved Durability
  • Upgraded Mesh Material

Cons

  • N/A

Ever heard of “shrink ’em and pink ’em” ?

That’s how shoe companies jokingly brief their designers on how 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 runners in 5k races in the USA, 61% of half-marathons, and 43% of all marathons.

Finally, shoe companies are realizing that women are a large part of the running population and that women bodies are different from men’s.

Wider quadriceps angles (Q-angles), lower body mass, and different feet shape are just some physiological differences that grant women different needs when talking about the ideal running shoe.

Women’s Biomechanics

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. If you overpronate, it is important to find shoes that support your feet and help reduce the chance of injuries.

Some of the more common overpronation injuries include:

  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Shin splints
  • Heel pain
  • Iliotibial Band Syndrome
  • Lower back pain
  • Bunions

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 through slightly different midsoles or outsoles can go a long way. Furthermore, strengthening your hip muscles can also work to help prevent this injury.

If you still experience pain around your knee when you run, consider getting orthotics. Orthotics can help stabilize your feet and reduce the impact on them as you run. Custom orthotics can be made to your specific feet, needs, and weight.

Lower Body Mass

In general, women have about 15% lower body mass – for the same height – 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.

Hormonal Differences

Women have lower muscle mass than men because women produce less testosterone. This means men tend to bulk up more than women. For example, a woman’s leg has about 60 percent muscle where a man’s leg has about 80 percent muscle.

Another hormonal that differs between the genders is the amount of estrogen in the body. Women have more estrogen, so they tend to have a higher body fat percentage. The good news is that body fat percentage does not affect your performance aerobically because it does not have a direct impact on peak oxygen uptake levels.

However, the downside is lower estrogen levels can increase the chance of stress fractures, which happen when too much stress is applied to a bone. A common site for this to happen in women is on the medial posterior portion of the tibia bone (the inside back portion of one of the lower leg bone).

Foot Shape

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. For example, women’s feet are normally wider in the forefoot, higher in the arch, and more narrow in the heel.

To ensure that the sole unit is responsive and fits the foot properly, these factors should be considered when trying on shoes. This also means you may have to try several brands and different types of shoes (neutral, stability, cushioning, etc.) until you find what is right for your feet.

Many women runners have narrow heels, which may cause issues when trying to find the right fit for shoes. If you fall into this category, lacing the shoes differently can help create a snug fit.

    Try this alternative lacing method for narrow heels:

  • Lace shoes as you normally would
  • At next to last eyelet, put each lace through top eyelet (creating small loop)
  • Thread lace ends through opposite loops
  • Finish tying shoes

This helps keep your heels snug and creates a tighter fit at the top of your shoes.

How Women’s Shoes Differ

Women’s running shoes are built wider than men’s in the forefoot area and narrower in the heel because of the shape of women’s feet. However, women’s shoes are sized smaller than men’s — the latter which are normally wider and sized larger than women’s running shoes.

Depending on the brand, you may experience different midsole, heel support, or weight of the shoe. Normally women’s shoes weigh less than men, but the midsole and heel may or may not be made of the same materials because women tend to overpronate more than men.

Can You Run in a Men’s Shoe?

Some women find running in a men’s shoe more comfortable and fitting rather than running in a women’s shoe. Why is that? It is just the individual shape of the foot.

Remember that every foot is different and if you find women’s shoes aren’t fitting right, give men’s running shoes a try. If you wear a size 9 in women’s shoes, this doesn’t mean you will wear a size 9 in men’s shoes, usually a size 7 compares. You will have to try on a variety of men’s shoes to find the right size.

Final Thoughts

Men and women’s running shoes differ in a variety of ways, including the way our bodies react in them. Make sure you have the right running shoes for your body type, foot shape, and running needs for a more comfortable run.

These are the running shoes we recommend for women. Which ones do you run in? Let us know in the comments!



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