Studies on foot shape have shown that women’s feet aren’t just smaller, narrower versions of male feet—there are differences in overall shape that affect shoe fit. Women’s feet tend to be comparatively wider in the forefoot, with a narrower heel. Running shoe makers take this statistical difference into mind when designing their shoes, and generally build their shoes with different heel shapes and sometimes different heel materials between the two models of the same shoe. Companies like Altra, with its Fit4Her technology, specifically design shoes that anatomically mirror a woman’s foot.
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While a minimalist running shoe might be all the rage, it may not be the best selection for you. This is why making a selection based on your foot type is crucial for a smooth and pain-free shoe. If you have higher arches, then look for a running shoe that gives extra support in the midsole. This will ensure that your feet don’t roll inward when they strike the ground.
Fans of Adidas’s springy Boost foam quickly fell in love with the first Solarboost, one of this 2018’s best shoes. The updated SB19 packs the same cushiony-soft midsole as the brand’s Ultraboost, but beefs up support through the midfoot and adds a streamlined “tailored fiber” upper without adding weight or bulk. It also tacks on stabilizing guide rails to secure the heel at the midsole, which are intended to help the Achilles move freely and focus a runner’s energy forward. Our testers appreciated the original Solarboost’s solid energy return and support from the upper, though some felt like it could stand to be more breathable, which Adidas remedied in this version with new air mesh.
Researchers have also found that because women tend to have wider hips than men, our feet are more likely to strike the ground toward the outside of our shoe soles. The inward rolling of the foot that results from this is known as pronation, which explains why more women are believed to overpronate than men. Some women’s running shoes account for this increased tendency with different materials used for support through the sole.