Let’s Talk About Women’s Running Shoes

Whether you’re just beginning your running journey, or you’re an experienced runner looking for a new shoe to try out, finding a quality pair of running shoes is the first step to guaranteeing that your future running endeavors will be enjoyable. It wasn’t so long ago that not much thought was given to the difference between male and female runners and their separate needs as athletes. The go-to phrase was, “shrink ‘em and pink ‘em.”

Luckily, athletic companies have moved away from this simplistic — not to mention sexist — standard and have taken into consideration that women’s bodies are different than men’s, so they need running shoes made specifically for them. With so many women representing the running population, this is a smart move. Just last year, women made up 58 percent of all the 5k races in the United States and 43 percent of all marathons.

Is there a significant difference between women’s and men’s running shoes?

Actually, there is. First off, women tend to have smaller heels in relation to the forefoot, so the shape of the shoe will be slightly different. A lower body mass results in slightly less foam in the midsole of the shoe and deeper grooves make it easier to flex the midsole when toeing off. Men and women also have different Q-angles, or the angle of incidence between the quad muscle and the kneecap, as women generally have wider hips than men. This can cause pronation to occur, which requires different types of cushioning.

Overpronation and Underpronation

If you overpronate, your foot tends to roll inward too far as you run, and your body isn’t absorbing shock as efficiently. For overpronation, you’ll want a more supportive motion-control shoe to help correct your foot motion. If you underpronate, your foot isn’t rolling in far enough, making the outside of it take the brunt of the impact after the initial heel strike. If this is the case, you’ll want a more neutral-cushioned shoe that will encourage a more natural foot motion. This is one of the most important things to consider when buying running shoes, as overpronation or underpronation can cause serious injury over time if it’s not addressed.

Different run? Use a different shoe

You’ll also want to consider the type of running you’ll be doing. Are you planning on doing a lot of road racing? A lightweight shoe will likely be best. Do you tend to do your long runs on trails? Then you may want a shoe designed specifically for trail running. If you’re looking for a simple training shoe for casual running, then durability may not be a big concern. However, if you’re the type of runner who lives in their running shoes, finding a high mileage shoe will give you the best quality for your money.

It may sound overwhelming, but luckily we’ve done the research for you and chosen what we think are the 5 best women’s running shoes based on a variety of running needs.

Looking to run?

Brooks has long been a go-to for running shoes as they fit a plethora of different training types. The shoes’ durability makes it possible for them to stand the rigors of daily training, and they provide enough cushioning to make a long run comfortable. If you’re looking to pick up your pace and fit in some speed work, the firmer forefoot of this shoe gives it the fast feel of a lightweight road racing shoe.

The Brooks Ghost 9 is a steal for $120. he extra cushioning in the heel makes these the ideal running shoes for those who have suffered from Plantar Fasciitis, the inflammation of the tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes. The grooves in the outsole of the shoe enhance the heel to toe transition, allowing for smooth ground contact, and the outsole itself has a thick layer of rubber to absorb impact. The toe box of the Ghost 9 has been redesigned to be even wider than its predecessor.

Pros: Well-cushioned while still having a light feel, smooth heel to toe transition, breathable upper with a wide toe box, reasonably priced

Cons: On the heavier side, doesn’t provide enough support for overpronation

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