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.
Mizuno completely redesigned the brand’s midsoles this year with a dual layer of foam in the shape of a wave, plus a full-length third foam level for even more cushioning. In the case of the Waveknit 3, the result is a shoe that feels softer, bouncier, and less stiff—without losing the smooth-riding qualities we’ve loved in Mizunos of yore. A more flexible knit Waveknit upper provides a snug fit with better stretch in the toebox than the Waveknit 2’s mesh upper. The durable rubber outsole is largely unchanged, adding up to a cushioned-but-firm trainer that will float you through your daily mileage.
Running all winter takes a lot—extra motivation, tireless dedication, and in the worst conditions, the right pair of shoes. The ICE+ makes it easier to get out there on days that would otherwise confine you to the treadmill with a Vibram Arctic Grip outsole that can grab ice without tearing up bare roads like a spiked sole would. Overall, the neutral shoe’s fit is comfortable, with a flexible overall ride and extra cushioning in the forefoot, plus a heel fit praised by women on our test team for how well it locks the heel into place. A water-resistant upper fends off the snow, even when you’re breaking new trail. But for summer trail runs, the regular Saucony Peregrine is equally capable, bringing the same deep, lugged outsole and cushioned platform to a shoe with a more breathable upper.
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The arch, ball of the foot, and toes of women have different shapes and sizes when compared to male feet. In addition, men’s feet tend to be wider and longer on average. This is why it’s important to provide our readers with a selection that reflects the individual needs of a female’s natural foot shape. Responsive sole units can ensure a proper fit and a more customized overall feel.
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.