Choose the Best Women’s Running Shoes – Summer 2009

Why do womens running shoes need to be different from mens running shoes?

There are a few, significant differences between mens and womens when it comes to their running bio-mechanics. It is important to know and understand them, in order to select a shoe that better helps a female runner, since a woman’s body is (luckily) significantly different than a man’s.

Let’s review a list of the most important and the solutions running companies are implementing to address them.

1. Women have a wider Q-Angle.

The Q-Angle is the angle of incidence of the quadriceps muscle relative to the patella (see picture).

Women have usually larger hips rather than men. This means a wider Q-Angle. As a consequence of the wider angle, women tend to pronate more than men.

For this reason it is very important that while engineering a womens running shoe, the designers and developers take this into consideration and work on addressing this by having a different midsole/outsole on the womens version, a combination of shapes and materials that can offer women the extra support they need.

2. Women’s Body Mass is Lower.

Statistically, women have approximately 15% less body mass than men with the same foot size. This means that when designers calculate how much bouncy the foam material in the midsole (for example) needs to be, they have to take into account the fact that for the same shoe size, the womens version should be lower and/or softer, as it would have to sustain 15% less of the impact.

3. Women’s Feet Have a Different Shape.

Men have broader and longer feet than women of their stature. Results show that women’s feet have different shape characteristics than men’s, especially in the arch, the first toe, the lateral side and the ball of the foot. This should should be considered when designing sports shoes for women.

While the previous points had impacts on the way a shoe’s sole unit had to be built, this point is about the upper.

We highlighted the three main differences between mens and womens running bio-mechanics, we recommend you to check if there’s a specific women version of the model you are considering – or better even, a women only model.