If the Running Shoe Fits

I’m still wrapping my thoughts around a recent article in Women’s Running published by Outside. The article is titled Finally, Women’s Running Shoes Are Being Made for Women’s Feet.

Photo by RUN 4 FFWPU on Pexels.com

The first question that came to mind when reading the title was, haven’t my running shoes always been made for my feet? I’ve always done my part by getting fitted correctly at local shoe stores known for their expertise in fitting. I’ve paid out the big bucks for those shoes to get the best fit I can and to, of course, support my local running stores.

Now, I learn that some fifty years after Bobbi Gibb hopped out of the forsythia and into the crowd of male runners at the start of the Boston Marathon, women are still running on a shoe designed for the male foot. Unlike t-shirts, running vests and hiking backpacks where brands finally got the memo that fit is different for women than for men, apparently most shoe manufacturers have not moved on from the “shrink it and pink it” formula.

So, what would make a woman’s running shoe different from the a man’s running shoe? According to the article a couple of generalities:

  • A woman’s foot is shaped differently.
  • The last, or foot-shaped mold, was designed around the shape of a man’s foot.
  • Women have a wider forefoot and narrower heel than men. (According to Casey Kerrigan, M.D., with the lack of support in the heel, a woman generates less power in the push-off phase.)
  • Women’s weight is distributed more to the front of the body.
  • Anatomical differences can Impact our feet, not to mention the rest of our bodies, over time.

After half a century of women running, why have manufacturers now finally come around to actually developing and manufacturing a performance shoe designed for the woman’s foot?

  • Market share. Women now make up more than half of American runners.
  • More female running shoe designers are on staff in a field previously dominated by men.

If you’re interested in checking out some of the brands that have recently developed shoes based on the woman’s foot, here are several:

Under Armour Flow Syncronicity was released in June this year.

Lululemon – In March this year, the Blissful was launched.

Puma – Women’s XX Nitro is another that was released in June.

Addidas Ultraboost 22 developed for the woman’s foot by a team of women designers became available December 2021.

OESH Women’s Warrior developed based on the research of Dr. Kerrigan, mentioned above.

Undoubtedly, there are a few more companies who have or are about to release a shoe designed for the woman’s foot. Also, it appears this is a first step for many companies and they will likely continue to improve their products designed for the woman’s foot.

I invite you to read the full article in Women’s Running. I find there are many insights into the shoe market and that market’s belated response to the woman runner.

I have so many questions on this topic:

Does your local running store carry any of the above models for women? Have any of my readers purchased any of these shoes models? If so, do you find a marked difference in fit and performance? Do you know other brands that manufacture a running shoe with a last based on a woman’s foot? Were you aware that we women have continued to run in shoes designed around a last configured to a man’s foot?


  1. I see this in our store all the time. I cannot believe how hard it is to something talk some women customers out of men’s footwear…all shoes come in wide widths if that’s needed…..women are not small men

  2. most womens shoes are built on a womens last and many have benn for years. nike used to use qe10last foe women the was for emily a design team member. hope you are well hk

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