Best Running Shoes For Women 2021 • 7 Running Shoes For Women Reviews
Running is one of the healthiest and most rewarding forms of exercise. Having the best running shoes for your particular needs is a crucially important aspect. We scoured the internet, read and compared countless reviews and buyers guides to find the best running shoes for women available today.
Running Shoes For Women Leaderboard 2021
What Are Women’s Running Shoes?
Women’s running shoes are just that: shoes for women who run. ‘What’s the difference between men’s shoes and women’s shoes?’, you may ask? ‘Are there even any differences?’, you may add. The answer is yes, there are indeed differences.We’ll get to those in a moment, but first, let’s take a basic, uncomplicated look at running shoes.
Generally speaking, running shoes are available in different shapes which correspond to different running styles, abilities and the foot health/shape of the wearer. In addition, each pair of shoes will be best suited to specific, or a range of, terrains. To get the best value for money, correct fit, adequate protection and lifespan from running shoes, it’s worth taking the time to consider all of these factors.
The Differences Between Men’s and Women’s Running Shoes
The main area where men’s and women’s running shoes differ is in their width. Women’s running shoes tend to be designed so that they are wider at the front, where the toes are, and narrower at the back, where the heel is. Men’s shoes are generally larger overall. The fit, comfort and support differ due to the variations in midsole materials and heel support.
Q-Angle, Weight and Fit
These are the three main factors running shoe designers consider when it comes to manufacturing their products. As a general rule, women, being the child-bearing goddesses that they are, possess wider hips than their male counterparts, creating something that’s called a wider Q-Angle. The Q-Angle can be measured while an individual is laying down or standing up and is the angle between the quad muscle relative to the kneecap. Because of this, women experience more pronation, which is the description given to the action of the inner and outer balls of the feet with the heel bone.
There are two types of pronation: overpronation and underpronation. The former is where the person’s foot spreads shock in an uneven manner by pushing off almost entirely from the big toe and second toe. The latter is where the individual’s foot weight doesn’t transfer itself to the big toe, leading to the outside of the foot to bear the brunt of the pressure. This can lead to anything from niggling injuries, to more serious, debilitating ones that can put the runner out of action for long periods of time. It’s due to these factors that a different midsole or outsole is used when designing and manufacturing the women’s version of running shoes to that of men.
On average, women carry 15% less weight than men. This means that there will be around 15% less impact as each foot hits the ground.
There is a multitude of different shapes and fits available for women made by a wide range of companies. It’s recommended that each individual finds the best shape and fit for them.
There are even some cases where someone will find through trial and error that the opposite gender’s shoes are more appropriate for their particular feet and exercise needs. With such a variety of designs available and information accessible both online and offline, finding the best pair is much easier than it was in years gone by.
The Big Women’s Running Shoes Buyers Guide
Trying before you buy is quite easy if you live in a town or city that contains sports shops like JD Sports and Sports Direct, as they will stock many of the best running shoes from the best brands. You can check their fit and feel right there in the shop in a matter of minutes. Having a little walk around will help you decide if they’re right for you. Of course, it’s unlikely you’re going to want to run around your local sports store as you’ll get some funny looks, but a little walk around can definitely give you a good idea if a particular pair is what you’re looking for and best suits your individual needs.
To be able to have a more in-depth personal review, we recommend that you spend the time trying a few pairs out while you’re in the store and buy the ones you think suit your needs. You’ll be able to return them later if you’re not happy with them, either for another pair, cash or a voucher. A week is a decent amount of time to put them through their paces. We’d definitely advise that you don’t expose them to too much that can cause wear and tear as this will reduce the chances of you being able to return them, especially if you damage them at all. Plus, if you do end up returning the pair, think of that poor unsuspecting person who buys them in the future and has to deal with your sweat and scuff marks.
However, one caveat is that you can’t try before you buy. For the best of both worlds, it can be a savvy idea to research the pairs you think are suited to your particular requirements online and try them in a local store. Then, if you decide to go ahead and purchase them, you can go with whoever has the best price. Of course, online stores like Amazon offer returns, so if you find they’re not for you, you can return them.
What To Look Out For: Potential Weak Points and Defects
Lack of muscle activity
We all wear them today but shoes weren’t always a necessity. In fact, we humans were actually designed to walk and run barefoot. Yes, that’s right – barefoot. Unfortunately, we aren’t in control of the objects we encounter when outside; they can cut the skin and cause a plethora of injuries. That’s why shoes were created. We’re extremely lucky to be able to wear shoes that not only protect our feet but can look stylish and increase the quality of our walking and running. With that said, the very design that protects us can also harm us. Like all other parts of our body, our feet send message to our brains. They tell the brain how they feel and how they need to make contact with the ground beneath them to remain safe and give the best results.
Running shoes are cushioned in the sole, heel and even at the front where our toes reside. What this means is that we aren’t relying on our foot muscles enough to be able to give an informed message to the brain about how to proceed. Sensory feedback comes from something called mechanoreceptors. If they’re not needed, they stop working and even stop working completely. The consequences of this are that the muscles of the foot don’t develop properly, making them susceptible to injury.
Plantar fasciitis risk
If you haven’t heard of this, it’s one of the most common running injuries sustained. It’s caused by the arch of the foot being unable to make flat contact with the ground due to the arch support built-in to running shoes. There can be such a thing as too much support, leading to weak arches. This is when the risk of plantar fasciitis becomes prevalent.
Limited spread of the toes
Without shoes, our toes will naturally widen when they make contact with the ground. With shoes, however, they are unable to due to the limited room at the forefront of the shoe where the toes are. The big toe is like an anchor for the other ones, playing a huge role in balance. If its movement is restricted, there’s a very real risk of losing balance and sustaining injuries.
Risk of bunions
In places around the world where people live their lives barefoot, bunions are non-existent. Running shoes push the big toe into an unnatural position, potentially creating the possibility of the joint moving out of place. The foot binding in shoes, while prevalent and often necessary, contributes to this. However, there are shoes that are kinder and even external accessories like toe-spacers available.
Raised heels putting strain on the knees, hips and back
Why do you never see women running in stilettos? Other than in your local town centre on a Saturday night, you’ll never see a woman moving particularly fast in fashionable, high-heeled shoes. This is because high heels increase the impact on the ground by putting the foot at an unnatural angle and position. While the plethora of women’s running shoes available doesn’t include Louboutins with six-inch heels, many of them do feature a raised heel. How raised is something to consider so that your joints are adequately protected from damage.
Muscle-shortening leading to pronati0n
Staying on the subject of heels, the cushioned ones on running shoes cause the muscles in the back of the leg to behave differently, ultimately shortening them. This, in turn, leads to an increase in pronation. Which of course leads to a greater chance of injuries. If an injury is sustained, the foot won’t return to the way it was naturally due to the cushioning of running shoes.
As we touched on earlier, running shoes actually restrict the feet’s natural movement, as opposed to increasing it. Over time, this can, and most likely will, decrease movement and muscular development. And that’s when injuries can happen.
Heel to toe drop
The angle of your foot running from your heel all the way to your toes should be as flat as naturally possible. This isn’t the case with running shoes. With particularly large angles, there’s an increased risk of problems with posture.
No, not you – we’re not saying your running shoes are going to kill you, but how long will they last? There are many factors such as how much you use them, where you use them, the quality of the material they’re made of and more. But in general, if you get a year out of a pair of running shoes, you’ve done very well. All soles wear away over time, not to mention the wear and tear created by contact and external factors such as weather. Whittling down your shoe search so you are left with only the best and most durable is a savvy decision.
In-Depth: External Mainstream Consumer Tests
One review from one source isn’t enough to make sure you choose the best women’s running shoes for you. That’s why we’ve collected together THREE recent reviews from large and trusted authorities on the subject matter. Staff from Women’s Health Mag, Runner’s World and Very Well Fit put a wide variety of running shoes through their paces, with consideration given to all areas including design, fit, comfort and lifespan. Each review is written to educate and inform the reader.
Women’s Health Mag, February 2019
This is a bite-sized feature presented via a pretty photo gallery of seven of the best running shoes for women. Next to each one, along with the RRP, is two headings: ‘The Promise’ and ‘WH Verdict’. The former is what the shoes purport to offer you and your feet; the latter is the review part – what the writer who tested them thought of them. No stone was left unturned, with Nike’s Epic React Flyknit 2 Women’s Running Shoe, the first in the gallery, being test-driven for a whopping 17,000 miles.
The ‘WH Verdict’ section covers what the writer feels are the particular running shoes’ advantages in terms of fit, comfort and suitable terrain/activity. A handy summing up at the tail-end of each review helps the reader to decide if these particular shoes are for them what Cinderella’s slipper was. With New Balance’s Women’s Fresh Foam Zante Solus, particular attention is given to their weight – in this case, 149 grams, the equivalent of 1.5 bananas. It’s also stated that they’re far more suitable for short-distance running than marathons. In the Brooks Womens Levitate 2 Running Shoe review, the Achilles tendon protection offered by the newly-designed heel guard is featured.
Most of the running shoes they feature are recommended for neutral runners, which generally means heavy runners with flat feet. 7 different pairs of shoes go under analysis in this particular suitability test. While not an exhaustive guide, all the important points are covered, including the potential hazards and who they are best for.
Runner’s World, February 2019
Even more running shoes are featured in this rundown, with a review of no less than ELEVEN pairs. It begins with an informative guide on some of the most frequently asked questions around running shoes for women and what you need to know before you’re ready to purchase a pair. A large, hi-res picture is followed by a review paragraph breaking down the strengths and weakness of each pair of running shoes. There is also a link to the manufacturer’s website, with the price next to it. We’re not entirely sure if this list is ranked in descending order of best reviewed to worst, but what we do know is that the main points are addressed briefly but clearly.
The first review on the list is of a pair of Nike Pegasus 35 Women’s Running Shoes, which they note were designed with feedback from none other than Olympic great Sir Mo Farah. (Go on Mo!) Each entry on this list even has a handy fact about how long the particular shoes in question have been around for and what new features have been added. You might not think a paragraph is enough to offer a detailed summary for each review, but we found it more than sufficient. You can always go more in-depth later.
Very Well Fit, March 2019
This one is the newest buyer’s guide we are featuring and like Runner’s World’s list, has 11 different running shoes featured and a review for each. Their rundown is conveniently organised into categories, starting with the best overall and ending with the best for long distance. This is incredibly useful, as long as you’re armed with knowledge about your own feet and what they will encounter while you’re running. There’s an Amazon link next to each pair.
They rate Brooks Womens Adrenaline GTS 18s as the best overall, while Altra Escalante Running Shoes are rated as the cream of the crop for those with bunions. All the important details are covered here and in our opinion, this is quite possibly the only list you’ll need to make a decision, or at least be in a position to try some out.
The Top 10 Women’s Running Shoes Brands
We all know of Nike, Adidas and Reebok as they’re synonymous with sports apparel, and are perhaps the biggest names in the industry. Today we find ourselves spoiled for choice as on top of these three giants, there are a plethora of other brands who make high-quality running shoes for women, including well-known ones like Skechers, Under Armour, Asics and Puma. Below are what we consider, based on our careful and thorough research, the best 10 brands in the world today. This list is presented in no particular order as ‘best’ is entirely subjective and there are too many variables to count.
- New Balance
- Under Armour
Not only is Nike arguably the most famous sporting brand in the history of the world, it’s one of the most famous brands in the world, full stop. In fact, in terms of name recognition and global popularity, it’s up there with giants like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s. Their ‘Just Do It’ slogan is famous the world over and some of the very best athletes in the world wear their shoes.
When searching for running shoes for women on their website, a massive 67 results come back. Every single kind for every single person, foot and terrain are represented here. Whether your budget is under £50 or north of £100, you’ll find what you want from this sports behemoth. As you’d expect, the no-frills, basic models are at the cheaper end of the scale while the premium, technology-laden offerings are at the other end. There’s something for everyone.
‘Best is only a step along the way’, proclaims the website for another American manufacturer, New Balance. Like Nike, they also offer a massive amount of choice when it comes to running shoes for women. Every colour, design and type of running shoe is on offer from a company that’s been in operation for over 100 years. Their offerings include the soft and smooth Fresh Foam range and the 800 Series which boasts superior cushioning and support.
Prices range from a little under £50 all the way up to around £150. They cater to everyone and their products are available in most good running shoe stockists both online and offline alike.
Founded in the 1950s oop north in England with their headquarters currently in Boston in the States, Reebok is a huge deal in the sporting world. In 2005, it became a subsidiary of the aforementioned Adidas.
With 75 different models being returned to us when we searched their website, female runners are bound to find a pair of running shoes that fits their requirements. Many of the models have descriptive names, such as ‘Grasse Road to Street’, ‘All Terrain Craze’ and ‘Run Faster’. The colours, designs and styles are plentiful with prices very similar to owners Adidas and rivals Nike.
Although not the household name of some of the other companies we’ve covered so far, Brooks has been around over 100 years since being founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1914. They manufacture and sell high-performance women’s shoes. In fact, since 2001, they deal only in shoes. And, perhaps surprisingly, they are the best-selling manufacturer of speciality running shoes. The 50 pairs that pop up on their website are colourful and varied in their designs.
They offer running shoes for different terrains like road, trail and track.
A Brief History of Running Shoes For Women
The very first known running shoe appeared all the way back in the 19th century. 1865, to be exact. This pair was the kind a smartly-dressed man would wear, with one key difference: they had spikes on the bottom. They were made of leather and had a lightweight feel. The history books claim they belonged to Lord Spencer and were most likely worn for cross-country running. Where was this? Northampton, the home of shoemaking at the time.
In 1890, a man named Joseph William Foster, himself a keen runner, helped his company (which became Reebok) design shoes for athletes. These shoes had leather spikes. In 1917, the first rubber soles emerged with plimsolls (also known as sneakers) becoming a popular choice.
Between the 1920s and 1950s, German brothers Adi and Rudolf Dassler opened their own business manufacturing shoes primarily for track and field. By the end of the 40s, they had rival shops on either side of the town they lived. The name of each? Adidas and Puma.
After Nike emerged in the 1960s, it was high time designers started catering their shoes to women. Not only did women have a keener eye for the look of the shoes they wore, their bodies were generally built differently to their male counterparts. This decade saw huge strides in the technology and customisability of running shoes. Podiatrists were now on the case, opening the doors for sports science to be a factor in design and manufacturing. Finally, in 1978, the first ever running shoes for women were introduced by Nike.
Inside The Numbers
Per Statista.com, the brand value of Nike on a worldwide scale is an astronomical $34.2 billion. Adidas is $16.7 billion. In 2017, global apparel and footwear retail sales totalled $1,696 billion. Sales of women’s shoes account for close to half of these figures. The average that an individual spent on running shoes in 2017 was somewhere between $80 and $140, or around £60 to £105.
Safety and Maintenance Tips For Women Wearing Running Shoes
- Have your feet measured professionally and buy the appropriate size offering the best fit
- If you have any medical issues, whether with your feet or elsewhere in your body, make sure the shoes you buy provide adequate
- If there are any faults with your shoes, notify the store you bought them from immediately and ask for an exchange or refund
- Wear the right shoes for the right terrain
- Replace your shoes regularly based on how much you wear them and how much wear and tear they accumulate
- Keep them in a safe, dry place when not wearing them to ensure they don’t get damaged
Frequently Asked Questions
I’m a beginner, what should I be looking for when buying a pair of running shoes?
Comfort and durability should be at the top of your list of things to consider when making your first foray into the world of running shoes. As a running newbie, your focus will be primarily on gradually building up your distance rather than your speed. A high level of comfort and shock absorption is recommended.
What are the best women’s shoes for bunions?
You’re going to want to filter your search down by wide-fitting shoes. The toe box should be more than enough to accommodate the extra width of your feet. However, everyone is different, so it’s recommended that you get a professional fitting by a qualified expert before you make that all-important purchase.
I run on roads, which shoes are best for me?
Build quality and durability are important factors here, as well as comfort and fit. What distances will you be running? What weather conditions will you be running in? These are all things to consider. Generally speaking, we recommend thick, durable shoes made by one of the top brands.
What are motion control running shoes and will they benefit me?
If you suffer from overpronation or have suffered previous injuries to your feet or other parts of your body like your back, legs or hips, the extra stability offered by motion control running shoes will likely be extremely beneficial for you and will offer you greater protection. These shoes usually have a firm midsole, preventing your foot from sliding around while you’re running.
I suffer from plantar fascilitis – which shoes are best for this?
Shoes that include an asymmetrical heel counter which keeps the foot locked into place is a good place to start. They will usually be lightweight and have a removable insole. You’ll also be looking for a shoe that offers you adequate protection without having a negative impact on your performance level.
Which shoe offers the best protection from weather damage?
Winter is a particularly difficult season for runners, as it brings with it the prospect of snow, sleet and ice. Your choice of footwear is vitally important both for safety and durability. Runners World recently featured an in-depth article on the best shoes for this time of year. Although our UK weather doesn’t tend to get as bad as it does across the pond, none of us needs to be reminded of 2018’s Beast From the East and other similar bouts of freezing, perilous weather. You’re looking at extremely well-made, durable shoes that offer protection from the elements.
Which shoes are best suited to runners with overpronation?
Overpronation makes the runner more susceptible to injury, so it’s crucial that anti-pronation shoes are bought. Run and Become lists the following as good options:-
- Brooks Vapor
- New Balance 860
- Saucony Hurricane
- Saucony Omni
- Mizuno Inspire
- Brooks Transcend
- Brooks GTS