When compared with the average man’s foot, a woman’s foot is generally wider in the heel and narrower in the forefoot. Women also have wider hip-to-knee ratios than men. This wider pelvis and greater knee angles make women athletes more vulnerable to increases stress on the knee and more prone to knee pain. Many women also roll their feet inward, or pronate, when exercising. The tendency to pronate along with the increased angle of hip to knee can cause patellar tracking problems for many women.
Women’s specific athletic shoes offer increased arch support and help decrease the tendency to pronate which often alleviates patellar tracking problems.
Buying Women’s Specific Shoes
Things to consider when buying women’s sports shoes:
- Be sure the shoes you buy fit your feet well. They should be wide enough in the forefoot and snug enough in the heel. There should not be an pressure points, binding or areas you think you ‘need to break-in.’ If the shoe isn’t comfortable when you put it on, it doesn’t fit your foot well.
- Do not purchase shoes because of brand or reputation. A more expensive shoe may not always be better quality. While well-known brands are probably of high quality, the fit is still the best indicator of a good shoe for you.
- Don’t be afraid to buy a ‘men’s’ model of shoe if it fits your foot shape better. The ‘women’s shoe’ is designed for the average women, but feet come in all shapes and sizes, and manufacturers try to accommodate the differences by producing many styles. Try on several different brands and styles to find which ones are best for you.
- Shop for shoes in the afternoon and evening when your feet are the largest, and remember that your foot may increase as much as one-half size during exercise.
- Wear the same socks you will be wearing while exercising when going to purchase athletic shoes.
- If you have an orthotic, bring it with when you try on shoes.
- Visit a specialty sports store if you want the right shoe for a specific activity. Most sport-specific retail stores have knowledgeable staff who will point you in the right direction based upon your running or walking style and foot type.
- Consider being evaluated for an orthotic if you have chronic knee, hip or foot pain. If you pronate, or supinate, orthotics can help keep your foot in a neutral position and reduce stress on the joints.