Sport shoemakers are lagging behind the growing enthusiasm for running and jogging among women, a study conducted by a German sports science researcher shows.
"Running shoes for women must get flatter and smaller," said Inga Krauss, a physiotherapist who led the research at the University of Tuebingen.
"Apart from that, women need more stability than men, and shoes should give more of a foothold without extra weight," Krauss said.
Krauss reached her conclusions after comparing the feet of about 850 men and women over the past two-and-a-half years in the biomechanics laboratory at the University of Tuebingen.<b1>
Shoemakers commonly use the same last to make men's and women's shoes, Krauss said. A last is a piece of metal or synthetic material shaped like a foot around which shoes are constructed. There has been very little scientific examination of the characteristics of women's feet despite increasing interest in jogging and running among women, she said.
Krauss' research was devoted fundamentally to foot form. Long feet are commonly narrow and flat, while small feet typically are wide and with a higher in-step, she said. These observations on foot form apply basically to both genders. The average man's foot, however, is longer than the woman's average, which in practice leads to a drawback for women.
In the popular shoe size range - in Germany this is 38 to 40 - women with small feet find running shoes whose cut often is based on a voluminous men's foot, Krauss said. She is asking shoemakers to increase their use of lasts for women.
Her research also indicated that women move more than men when running.
"Women bend their hips, ankles and knees more than men when they are running," she said. Ligaments and muscles are also more flexible. Sports shoes for women must be constructed to give the women who wear them more hold when running, Krauss added.