Best Running Shoes for Women: A Guide
It is not only long distance runners that wear running shoes as these running trainers can be used for any type of exercise. Cross trainers and sneakers should not be used for impact exercises such as aerobics or boot camp where there are short bursts of running or high impact movements as these shoes do not provide the support or stability needed to keep the foot in correct alignment while the body is in motion. Investing in a good pair of running shoes should eliminate injuries that result from insufficient cushioning and poor fit around the foot. These superior quality shoes should also last longer than cheaper shoes that are not biomechanically efficient. There are researchers, scientists and designers at big sporting and shoe companies who design all the aspects of the shoes and test them repeatedly before the shoes hit the shelves and before the shoes hit the road on the feet of the runners. When all your training questions have been answered by an expert, it is time to visit the shop to try on the shoes and test them. Rather investigate the reasons for the shoe choice before making the incorrect, costly decision to opt for a cheaper version.
Differences between Male and Female Running Shoes
In many ways buying a running shoe is like buying a new car and many decisions must be made before “test driving” the shoe. Consider the main activity the shoes will be used for and the terrain. As with cars, there are different characteristics on the road than other surfaces that are less consistent and undulating. Indoor and road shoes last longer and have different characteristics to trail shoes. The rule is that runners should only run on their special running shoes (possibly alternate two pairs of running shoes) and use other shoes for gym training, sports and leisure wear. Although ladies wear their husband’s clothes and caps to run, it is not recommended to use their running shoes. In addition to the size difference, there are many design differences between male and female shoes. Traditionally, men have a bigger, broader foot and different running styles to women. Men also tend to be heavier than women and therefore harder on the shoes. I know of a few ladies with broader feet who prefer to run in men’s shoes, but this is the exception as most women have more petite feet than men. Apart from the color differences, men’s running shoes can look very similar to women’s shoes, but there are differences in the design and fit that are not obvious to the untrained eye. If there is a need to wear men’s running shoes, get the best advice after having a professional check out your feet and running style. Women tend to have a narrower heel in relation to the ball of the foot, which means our feet taper slightly to the back, giving it a feminine shape while men tend to have a bigger circumference over the ball of their foot. This is very interesting to note the small anatomical difference that extend from the head to the foot. Stick to your own gender’s running shoes to be safe and the prices are very similar between the genders even if the colors are slightly different. Focus on the features of the shoe rather than the look. Adopt an analytical approach to shopping and see the excursion as a learning experience. Learn the technical aspects of the shoes and your own training to get the best value. Be prepared to spend money as this could be an expensive outing, even though the value is gained when there are no injuries to pay for such as visits to the physiotherapist or doctor.
Types of Running Shoes
Every runner has a different foot strike and running style. The simple exercise of jogging has become quite complicated for a sport where one leg is placed in front of the other in the act of controlled falling. With distances increasing and incorrect training methods, there will always be injuries to the runner and most running injuries occur in the legs. An appropriate running shoe is critical to get less strain on the legs and maximize performance. With competition between shoe companies, sponsorships, advertising and sports mania, there are many types of products to choose from. Luckily, many sports stores have qualified assistants who can assess posture, gait, running styles and training needs in order to give the best advice to shoe buyers. This does not mean that the runner should be blissfully ignorant. Each runner (and active person for that matter) should know whether they pronate, supinate or have a neutral foot strike.
Stability Running Shoes
Stability running shoes have been designed to support pronators when the foot does not roll on the inside. If you have a very flat foot, there is the chance of overpronation when the feet roll inwards drastically and a stability shoe is needed to prevent ankle strain. Although stability running shoes have heightened areas and certain adjustments, they should not alter running style, just make it easier. The inner cushioning on the inner part of the shoe prevents overpronation so there is slight arch in the foot from the shoe and that prevents the feet rolling inward with movement and adds stability and motion control. The other extreme from flat feet are high arches when the footprint curves inwards and the middle part of the foot looks slim. This is supination or underpronation and leads to outward rolling the feet when running. Runners with high arches should check shoe size regularly as running will cause their arches to gradually fall and make feet longer.
Neutral Running Shoes
Neutral running shoes are for the runner that has a normal foot strike without any rolling and this is the most common type of foot. Neutral running shoes are best and this leads to less injury.
Motion Control Running Shoes
Motion controlled shoes are recommended for flat feet. These shoes will absorb the impact along the inside of the foot with foam and other absorbing materials in the areas where over-pronation tends to affect. Starting at the heel and ending at the midsole, there is enough support and there should also be ankle support to prevent leg injuries such as shin splints. Unfortunately, motion controlled shoes will not make the runner move faster as the name suggests but it will help to secure the foot and conserve energy that would have been lost trying to keep stable while running.Once the running style and foot analysis has been done, the brand of shoe must be chosen. Most brands make shoes for neutral and stability purposes and there are many ranges to choose from.
How to Choose the Right Running Shoe for Women
Firstly, the process starts at home when you need to consider the aim of the running shoes. If the shoes will be used once a week for a hike or a short run around the block, it is not necessary to spend too much money on running shoes, but it is still important to get advice about the best type of shoe. Any impact on shoes that have little support could cause long term injuries, no matter how short the distance. An entry level running shoe will suffice for the social runner who runs less than 10kms per week. Consider the terrain, speed and intensity of the average workout and consider this when buying a running shoe. Also consider shoe history and which make and model of shoes worked best for you in the past. Being women, we tend to buy based on aesthetics, but the best running shoe is not always the prettiest.
Men also fall into this trap, but there are generally much prettier running shoes for females, but they may not suit your foot or running style. If you were comfortable with a particular brand, stick with it unless you try on something more comfortable. Also stick with a specific model and just purchase the upgraded shoe that should have the same features with new improvements. There are always new additions to the running shoe, whether it is the Asics offset lacing system, where the lace is moved to the side of the foot and not at the top middle part of the foot or another shoe brand. Apart from being a different design, the aim of the offset lacing system is to lock the foot over the instep and add stability.
Each brand has its own name for cushioning such as Air, Gel, Adiprene and ProGrid that performs similar functions using slightly varied science. It is necessary to purchase new running shoes every 300 to 400 miles. Once the shoes are chosen when visiting the specialty store, ask for a half size larger than normal to accommodate foot movement and swelling while running. Bigger shoes also have more room in the toebox, which will help to prevent blisters, black toe nails and forefoot problems. Ask the assistant to measure the length and breadth of your foot and then try on about four pairs of shoes. They should be able to explain the advantages and features of each shoe, based on your needs. Once this has been established, it is important to try on both shoes (not just one shoe) and walk around the shop in the shoes. There may even be a treadmill for testing the shoes as they will not damage on the treadmill. The sales assistant should be able to assess running style and help you choose the correct shoe. If there is no treadmill, take old running shoes to the store and discuss the faults, mileage and wear on the old shoe. It is important to remember that the running shoes will see much more mileage than a little walk and it is crucial to get the best support.
Best Running Shoes For Women -- General Picks
Each season, Runner’s World and other experts vote for the best running shoes and then launch these results to the public. The main brands are reviewed, tested and the results are available for the readers, but at the point of purchase, the decision lies with the buyer. These results affect the sales of running shoes and educate the public, but it is critical to try the shoes before purchasing and knowing the type of shoe required. Here is a list of my favorite running shoes at the moment and the experts seem to have the same opinion that Asics is still the runner’s favorite, although there are other comfortable shoes in the marketplace.
#1: Asics GT-2160
This newer model is not strictly an upgrade of last season’s 2150 as it is more similar to the 2140 and lighter than most Asics. The manufacturers took into account that runners were not very impressed with the 2150 range and they reverted to the basic model of the 2140 and then upgraded some things on the shoe. The closer fit and narrower toe box prevents foot movement, especially in the forefoot area and this helps to prevent blisters, chaffing and pain when running. The shoe weighs 9.6oz and this not only helps to lighten the gym bag, but it lightens the legs at the end of a race when the body is tired and heavy. The shoes retails for less than $100 and while the wallet may be lighter after purchasing the shoes, the bank account won’t be empty.
Adidas Supernova Adapt
This new Stability shoe from Adidas and is an update of the Supernova Classic with added cushioning. The memory foam in the heel assists with ankle stability and the forefoot overlays adds stability. If you are a forefoot striker (not a soccer position, but a runner whose toes hit the ground first), this shoe is ideal. Torsion control system helps to control over-pronation and this shoe is designed for a forefoot runner as adiPRENE Plus is used for the cushioning system in the region of the toes and forefoot. This shoe will cost about $85-$90 in the shop.
Nike Air Pegasus+ 27
The retail price on the Nike Air Pegasus+ 27 is $90. This shoe is not only a small size, but the small price makes the consumer want to buy two pairs. Just buy a slightly bigger size as it is a small model. Not only is it small, but also light at 9.1 oz. The entire foot is protected with Zoom Air cushioning in the heel and deeper flex grooves for a more flexible forefoot and the front area has no-sew area to reduce any irritation. The internal bootie is hygienic and makes the shoe more snug and comfortable. The decoupled crash pad allows heel impact to be isolated from the rest of the shoe to promote a more natural landing.
Adidas Women's Duramo 3 Running Shoe
At $38.75 - $61.99 on Amazon.com, this shoe is a bargain and the injected EVA provides long term conditioning which will help the shoes last longer. There is lightweight cushioning which makes the shoe lighter, but may compromise comfort for the runner who enjoys cushioning. This shoe is available in a variety of colors and has been chosen for its cheap price and interesting look in addition to the features.
Asics Gel Kayano 17
The price may be heavier around $130 but the shoe is lighter with construction of the guidance line, which is the design of the midsole to guide the foot from heel to toe. The change in construction dropped the weight of the shoe by 0.5 ounces. The environment is not only benefitting from more runners but the designers of the Asics Gel Kayano 17 used recyclable materials on overlays on the upper are now made out of a recyclable material. Asics has kept the women-specific features on the shoe, such as a soft top DuoMax for more cushioning from heel to forefoot. There is also additional heel height to relieve pressure on the Achilles tendon and because women’s shoes don’t need to support as much weight as men’s shoes, the foam used for cushioning is lower density, which means it is softer in both heel and forefoot. The Kayano 17 works well with orthotics and this is my choice of shoe as I am heavier than most runners and I use orthotics for my Achilles problem, but I could not be biased and make it number 1 as the other Asics are lighter. Although these shoes have been launched in black and this tempts many runners to buy it for the convenience.
Best Stability Running Shoes for Women
These are a list of our picks for the best stability running shoes that are suited for the female foot.
Adidas Supernova Sequence 3
The Pro Moderator medial support device and the midsole are built with the Torsion system providing lightweight arch support. The adiPRENE technology is everywhere in the shoe with different flex points. This makes running more comfortable and the natural flex of the foot is enhanced with the stitched-on micro suede upper. There is a memory foam heel that returns to normal once the shoe has been taken off. The padded tongue has a nonslip lining which also helps to prevent blisters and antimicrobial sock liner will keep feet healthy. The price is not too steep at about $85.
Saucony ProGrid Hurricane 12
The expanded medial post extends into the rearfoot and this motion control device has a larger heel crash pad. This is good news for runners who are heavy or who run with a heave foot strike as the impact is absorbed. The Arch-lock extends from the laces to the midsole along the inside and it serves as a link from the top of the shoe to the stable midsole. When the laces are tied, the shoe tightens where you need it most. ProGrid technology encourages impact deflection and the women’s shoe weighs 11.4 ounces and retails for $69.90 - $160.00 on Amazon,com.
Asics Gel Kayano 16
This shoe contains much gel to aid in landing and add support and can be purchased on Amazon for $81.95 - $140.00. The price is what you would expect for a good running shoe, but the weight is more than some other lightweight shoes at 10.5 oz. This assists the heavier runner and provides cushioning for the taller, muscular woman who may not be as petite as other runners. The Guidance Line is a groove on the bottom of the running shoe that steers the foot gently from heel strike to toe-off, creating a natural gait. Locking the foot over the instep is the job of the new offset lacing system which should create additional stability. The heel is a slightly lower heel collar, which helps alleviate Achilles pain. This would be the shoe for a person who usually needs innersoles or additional heel support.
Best Neutral Crushioning Running Shoes for Women
Our picks for some of the better neutral crushioning running shoes best suited for the girls.
Asics Gel Nimbus 12
This shoe is stable and then has added stability for runners with high arches. To add even more stability, the offset lacing locks the foot over the instep on a wider base. The Impact Guidance System, which has a guidance line from the rear to the front of the shoe to help with an efficient gait. The women’s shoe weighs 9.8 oz and a new feature is the high heel – there is an added 3mm heel height to reduce Achilles stress. This shoes retails for about $90 from various outlets and websites.
These shoes protect the knees and feet and it feels like running on air with all the cushioning that has been added. The women’s shoe weighs 9.8 ounces, which feels like holding air in your hand, and the price is not too shocking at less than $100. The sight plastic wrapping the arch connects the shoe laces to the midsole and this creates a close fit over the middle of the foot. No-sew techniques means there is no stitching and this reduces irritation on the foot. The Injected Phylon (IP) pressure path under the arch, keeps the runner grounded and this adds stability and the crash pad has also been altered to absorb shock on the heel. This reduces the risk of impact injuries and adds further stability to the foot.
Brooks Glycerin 8
The new technology called Brooks DNA. This feature means that the cushioning is designed to adapt to the unique needs of each runner. It won’t pass you water or run the race on your behalf, but it should mould your foot. BioMoGo is a biodegradable material for the midsole of the shoe and the women’s shoe weighs 10.3oz which adds support for heavier runners and retails for under $100, but may be out of stock on Amazon.com.It was obviously very popular when I was doing research, but more shoes should be ordered by now.
Final Word on Choosing the Best Running Shoe for Women
Once the shopping has been done and the shoe has been chosen, remember to run slowly for the first few training runs. Expect a small blister and some adjustment from the old running shoes, but keep pushing ahead, slowly at first to prevent injuries. Keep the shoes clean and air them after each run to eliminate odors and keep training to get fitter and faster.