Women’s running shoes are different from men’s, here’s why

Women’s running shoes are different from men’s, and the difference is not just the color. Indeed, color is just a marketing ploy that hides a truth that is not always made explicit: Women’s running shoes are structurally different from men’s. This fact has two consequences: generally men should not buy women’s running shoes (an unlikely event due to the numbers, but not impossible); generally women should not use men’s running shoes, which is more likely and often frequent. Now, without prejudice to the exceptions (men of short stature and with “short” and thin feet or tall women with consequently “large” feet) There are irrefutable anatomical differences between men and women which also have repercussions on motor skills, as we all understand even at first glance and as has been demonstrated by the study Gender differences in adult foot shape: implications for shoe design conducted by the Center for Locomotion Studies of Pennsylvania State University. But It’s not just height and weight that differentiate men and women, and consequently the way they walk and run and therefore also the design of running shoes. In particular, the differences concern:

Width and length of the foot Instep Q angle (or Quadriceps angle) Arch Dynamics of foot support during running

Women’s running shoes are different from men’s

Shape, in the sense of length and width of the foot, mobility of the ankle, bone structure of the foot, less weight for women of the same height, less ability to express strength in women of the same height and weight, and a proportionately wider pelvis in women they cause the way of running to be profoundly different. And so what women need specific shoes that are different from those for men. But let’s see in detail why women’s running shoes are different from men’s.

Men’s and women’s running shoes weigh the same

In the meantime, let’s refute what everyone thinks is the main difference and which actually isn’t: in reality, men’s and women’s running shoes weigh the same. The confusion arises from the fact that normally, as weight, brands indicate that of the median number for each gender, usually 9 US for men (which is more or less the 42 European) and 7 for women (which is the 38 European). But the best thing is always to think in centimeters of length and normalize to 27 centimeters (precisely 9 US for men, which becomes 10.5 for women) or 24 cm (precisely 7 US for women, which becomes 5.5 US for men) then the true weight of the shoes is usually very close if not identical.

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Women’s running shoes are narrower than men’s

And this is true: with the same number, or rather length expressed in centimeters, Women’s running shoes are narrower than men’s. And by narrow we mean the width in the heel area but also the volume of the upper, that is, the upper part of fabric – normally synthetic, technical and breathable – that covers the shoe. Now, women have a thinner heel than men (always with the same length of the foot, this is the premise for every discussion) and this depends on the fact that the bones of a female foot are thinner and lighter (which also translates into a different support, generally more than the midfoot and less heel than the average male).

In terms of measurement codes, it is said that the width for women is B, while that for men is D (it is a technical curiosity which however gives a good idea). Furthermore, thinner and lighter bones also result in a less volume at collar level (let’s say more or less where the laces are tied), which is why women’s running shoe models have a smaller upper volume.

Women have longer toes

Yes, generally and with the same numbering, women have longer toes than men. This often translates into a different proportion of the lacing space (which as we will see later must also accommodate greater flexibility at the forefoot level) and also to a different curvature between the inside and outside of the shoe compared to the men’s models, to avoid a excessive rubbing of the toes against the upper. When this difference is taken into account, placing two shoes of different types but the same model and brand side by side, they should result in a different length between the toe and the start of the lacing. Which explains why a woman shouldn’t use a man’s model (and vice versa).

A woman’s forefoot is more flexible than a man’s

Another reason why women’s running shoes are different from men’s is that A woman’s forefoot is more flexible than a man’s. This also derives from the fact that the bones are thinner and lighter, and therefore more flexible, and translates into different running mechanics and therefore different needs at the level of the sole, which in the front part must be more flexible to better accommodate the transition and push. Flexibility that you normally get with one different geometry of the sole groove, or with deeper groovesso comparing the soles of the same model in the W and M versions they should be different.

Women have proportionally wider pelvises

There is little to discuss about this, women have proportionally wider pelvises, and it is nature that established it for the needs of childbirth. But when it comes to running this means a different angle between hip and knee compared to humans (it is called Q angle, or Quadriceps angle, and is the one formed between the line of force of the quadriceps muscle and that of the patellar tendon). It tends to be 5th/7th, mostly in women. The consequence? A excessive tendency to supinationthat is, to mainly support the outside of the foot, which can cause overload injuries and which brands tend to compensate with a different modulation of the material in the midsole.

Women weigh proportionately less

Let’s take a man and a woman of equal height, equal foot length and equal morphology: the woman will weigh less than the man. This is given by the thinnest bones but also by one less muscle mass, normally around 15%compared to men. It goes without saying that the women’s shoe, with the same number, will have to support 15% less weight, and this also translates here into a different modulation of the midsole materials and often also in a different density. In practice, if the same midsole were used for women, there would be a greater cushioning effect, but not necessary given the lower weight, and a reduced pushing effect, which instead is also useful due to the lower ability to express force (always with the same of anthropometric data, i.e. height and length of the foot, as well as weight).

Sometimes women’s running shoes have more drop

If it is true that women express less strength, that they have more flexibility in the forefoot due to thinner and lighter bones, that they support the heel less also due to less flexibility of the Achilles tendon, then we understand why the same running shoe model has more drop – i.e. difference in height of the midsole between heel and toe – in the female version compared to the male one.

Women’s running shoes also have a more pronounced arch

This is also what anatomy says: if generally and under equal conditions a woman’s arch is more pronouncedthen it goes without saying that the female versions of running shoes will have a greater arch at the level of the insole and/or midsole, to promote greater flexibility of the forefoot and also ensure greater supposition in the push phase.

The collar of a women’s running shoe is shorter

Did we mention that women’s bones are thinner than men’s? Well, at the ankle level this translates into a thinner, less voluminous ankle. Consequently, a women’s running shoe that wants to fit perfectly will also have a shorter collar, or let’s say with a narrower circumference, than an equal size for men.


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2024-05-20 07:22:25
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