Best women’s running shoes according to experts

Surprise: women’s feet are not simply smaller versions of men’s feet. And yet… for the most part, running shoes have been designed around not only the geometry of a male foot, but also the biomechanics (or movement patterns) of male runners.

Anatomically, women generally have a wider forefoot and narrower heel than men (think triangular versus rectangular) and tend to have a greater height difference between heel and forefoot. A woman’s weight is naturally distributed more across the front of her body, and her feet have only a slight tendency to fall inward.

These differences may not be noticeable to the average eye, but they are there. And over time, crushing a woman’s foot in a man’s shoe can lead to decreased performance, discomfort, injury, and even injury. (According to a 2021 scientific review published in the journal, female runners FWIW were more likely than male to be injured Physical activity and health.)

On the plus side, many women can comfortably wear running shoes designed around a men’s or unisex last. And for those who can’t, brands are (finally!) beginning to research and develop sneakers specifically tailored for female runners. Whichever camp you fall into, one of these women’s running shoes—approved by doctors, trainers, and other experts—should help you look your best.

Best for extra support

Adidas Ultraboost

The Ultraboost has been a maxed-out staple for male and female runners going the distance since its debut in 2015. In redesigning the latest iteration, designers have focused entirely on gender specificity, using data from over a million foot scans to create men’s and women’s lasts around which the new shoe is built. “The Ultraboost 22 has a narrow, S-shaped heel and low instep,” says Rami Hashish, Ph.D., physical therapy physician and physical performance and injury expert. Plus, he adds, there’s extra support on the inside of the outsole to help prevent the feet from rolling in, which is more common in women.

Best for added convenience


Puma incorporated insights from athletes like Olympian Molly Seidel as well as general consumers when creating their women-specific running shoe. “The XX Nitro is made for women who prefer a smooth and well-cushioned ride,” says Restrepo. “It’s great for people who overpronate and those looking for extra comfort due to its responsive foam sole and supportive upper.”

Best for off track

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The Nike Invincible is packed with 37 millimeters of the brand’s lightest, softest and most responsive foam (the same one you’ll find in the brand’s highly hyped racing shoes). “The Invincible can be great for any runner who wants to simulate running on a softer surface on their light days – and the responsive bounce can make you feel like you’re running faster,” says running coach Amie Dworecki. “These shoes offer a high level of support to help those who overpronate and they have a decent tread so you have a good grip when parts of your run take you down a dirt trail.”

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Best for arch support

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Under Armor also turned to 3D scanning, custom lab testing, and fit and wear testing in the development of its new women’s-specific shoe, focusing on women’s heels, arches and midfoot heights. “The Under Armor Synchronicity is great for runners who need extra arch support,” says orthopedic surgeon Kellie K. Middleton. “This shoe features unique arch stabilization technology that helps provide a secure fit and improved cushioning.” It’s also super lightweight and has less cushioning, making it ideal for faster workouts.

Best for wider feet

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Brooks is the largest brand of women’s performance running shoes and the Ghost is their best-selling women’s running shoe. While this shoe isn’t specifically designed for the female anatomy, it tends to accommodate wider forefoot. And it combines the brand’s softest cushioning in the midsole with a crash pad on the heel to better absorb impact.

“With a 12mm heel-to-toe heel, this is a nice neutral, cushioned shoe for someone with a high arch,” says podiatrist Nelya Lobkova.

Best for flat feet


The GEL nimbus has been around forever, but it was one of ASICS’ heavier, almost chunky styles. Not anymore: Just this year, the brand introduced a complete redesign of this classic shoe: “The Nimbus 25 is great for runners who prefer the comfort and cushioning of a neutral or lightly structured shoe for long or easy runs,” says Lalitha McSorley . a physical therapist at Brentwood Physiotherapy Calgary. “Runners who need a little extra stability and protection, such as Those with flat feet or high arches will benefit from the cushioning and support of this neutral shoe.”

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Best for cushioned support

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Hoka’s Bondi line has the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) seal of approval and “is known for its soft, cushioned ride and unique shape,” says podiatrist Jamila A. Butcher. “It’s a great option for runners who need a lot of cushioning and support.” The latest update uses softer, lighter foams and an all-new extended heel geometry that – combined with the wider base – helps guide feet seamlessly through the gait cycle without wasting energy. It’s not a fast shoe, but one that can go really far.

Best for beginners

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One of New Balance’s top women’s shoes, the Fresh Foam X 1080v12 isn’t gender specific but delivers exactly where runners need it. “These shoes are super light and comfortable and are a perfect fit especially for beginners,” says Olesia Stefanko, a Miami-based trainer and fitness program developer for HitFit. “A thick, stable platform protects the joints from negative running shocks – without the feeling of lying on a pillow/mattress.”

Best for speed


Updating the Ride 15, Bell calls it a Goldilocks shoe because “they’re not too soft, but they’re not too firm; not too cushioned, but not too flat,” Saucony used a new midsole foam that lends itself to a smoother running experience. It’s slightly firmer than previous iterations, allowing runners to pick up the pace but still go the distance. The wider base provides a very stable ride, while a slightly wider forefoot gives the toes room to splay and a semi-rigid, cushioned heel counter keeps the foot in place. There’s also a lot more foam underfoot for plush, responsive cushioning.

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