Women have a tendency to overpronate when they run.
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Running shoe companies have redesigned women's shoes to better reflect their needs. These design differences allow the shoes to better distribute load and thus be more effective at absorbing shock. Shoe designs are based on typical differences between men and women. It's a good idea to visit a running store for a free fitting and a running gait analysis to find the appropriate shoe for you.
Women's Shoes: Greater Motion Control
Women naturally have a tendency to have wider hips, which means that the angle of their upper leg is often greater. This slant of the upper leg, referred to as the Q angle, can cause female runners to strike the ground with the outside of their foot more than men. Both men and women eventually get to a point where their feet are flat on the ground, but men have a tendency to initially land with their foot square. Because women hit the ground with the outside of their foot, they have to roll their foot inward to get their feet flat. This inward rolling or pronation can cause stress on the knee joints. Therefore, women's shoes typically feature greater motion control, meaning they have a more rigid instep to prevent overpronation.
Men's Shoes: Denser Cushioning
Because men have a tendency to weigh more than women, men's shoes often feature denser cushioning at the forefoot of the shoe. This allows the shoe to absorb a greater load and help decrease the stress that's placed on the feet, ankles, knees and hips. Women's shoes will often have a thinner forefoot surface because they don't carry enough weight to compress the material and excess density makes the shoe heavier and inflexible.
Women's Shoes: Narrower Heels
Because men typically have longer and wider feet than women who share the same stature, the shape and size of men's and women's shoes vary. Women's shoes are commonly wider in the forefoot and then get narrower toward the heel to accommodate their leaner heels and ankles.
Men's Shoes: More Angled Heels
The heel of the shoe helps to cushion the impact force when your foot strikes the ground and distributes that force throughout the foot. While both men and women have a tendency to strike the ground with their heel first, women do so at a much shallower angle than men. This means, upon the heel striking the ground, men's feet are pointed upward at a greater angle than women's. As a result, the heel bevel design varies between the two shoes. Men's shoes have a more angled heel to allow for their strike, while the heel of women's shoes is flatter.