The tricky thing about deeming any pair of running shoes “the best” is that every runner’s foot is unique. But for too long, running shoes have been designed around the general geometry of a man’s foot—which negates the fact that more than half of runners are female.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but research has confirmed that female feet are not just smaller versions of male feet. Women’s feet are wider in the forefoot and narrower in the heel; evert (or roll outwards) slightly more, and have a larger heel to forefoot offset than men’s feet; women, who are generally lighter, also hit the ground with less force than a man does.
When a female runner is wearing a shoe designed around a man’s foot, it’s not going to support those anatomical and biomechanical differences—which means it can a) impede running efficiency and b) over time, lead to foot issues like blisters, bunions, metatarsalgia, neuromas, as well as problems further up the body.
Luckily, brands are finally wising up to the differences between male and female feet, and investing in the research and development needed to create products for both genders. The women’s running shoes we’ve rounded up below have either been designed specifically for the female foot, or incorporate female-friendly features.
Not every female runner will end up in a shoe designed for women—but having more options from which to choose will help ensure any runner can determine what shoe works best for them.
If you want to see all of our running shoe reviews, you can check out our Running Shoe reviews page.
Categories are placed so you won’t have a difficult time finding what you want. If you know what you need, simply click that entry in the table of contents. If not, feel free to browse the whole list.
We’d also like to hear your thoughts on our best running shoes for women list. You can even share your own list in the comments below.
Best Running Shoes for Women
Puma Run XX Nitro
Puma designed this shoe for long runs, and in an independent validation study done in partnership with the University of Massachusetts Amherst, over 81 percent of women preferred the Run XX over the control shoe. Like other women-specific shoes, the shoe features a narrower heel and a wider forefoot to accommodate female foot anatomy. But it also has what Puma calls RunGuide, a piece of TPU that wraps around the shoe from the heel to the midfoot to subtly guide the foot through the gait cycle. Paired with the brand’s Nitro foam, it makes for a slightly stiffer ride—but one you’ll be able to sustain for miles. See the full review.
Fit: True to Size, Drop: 8mm, Price: $130
ASICS GEL-Nimbus 24
ASICS’ best-selling women’s running shoe is the revamped GEL-Nimbus 24, which has a number of female-friendly features. It’s designed for runners with high arches (women tend to have higher arches than men), has a stretch mesh upper that allows for more room at the front of the foot, incorporates GEL cushioning at the heel to better absorb shock, and uses lightweight FF Blast+ foam to provide plush cushioning with a little extra bounce, especially at push-off. This is the kind of workhorse trainer you’ll want to wear into the ground. See the full review.
Fit: True to Size, Drop: 10mm, Price: $160
Under Armour Flow Synchronicity
In creating the Synchronicity, Under Armour used 3D scans, customized lab testing, and fit and wear tests to hone in on the ideal female fit. Designed for shorter, faster distances and crafted around a single piece of lightweight Flow midsole foam, there’s no outsole, just a grippy, rounded bottom to encourage smooth transitions while still providing just enough traction. A narrow, padded collar hugs the heel and ankle, while added arch support, a smaller instep circumference, and a shallower toe region keep your foot comfortably locked in.
Fit: True to size, Drop: 7mm, Price: $140
Brooks Ghost 14
The Ghost 14 isn’t a women-specific design, but it’s the best-selling women’s running shoe from the largest women’s performance running shoe brand. Female runners are likely drawn to the flexible mesh upper, which can accommodate a wider forefoot; a new midsole that’s made entirely of Brooks’ softest foam, DNA Loft; and extra shock absorption under the heel to encourage smoother transitions (the 12mm drop helps, too). It’s a neutral, cushioned trainer that can stand up to most workouts and conditions.
Fit: True to Size, Drop: 12mm, Price: $140
Saucony Guide 15
The Guide 15 has long been a dependable stability shoe, but its recent upgrade has made it a best-seller among women. In the latest version, there’s more flexibility in the forefoot, higher sidewalls that hug your foot, softer PWRRUN foam to provide more cushion without adding extra weight, a lightweight “Hollow Tech” guidance system that counters overpronation, and a new midsole shape that eases heel-to-toe-transitions. A lightly padded heel counter keeps the back of your foot where it should be even when you pick up the pace.
Fit: True to size, Drop: 8mm, Price: $140
New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v12
The versatile Fresh Foam 1080 is one of the most popular New Balance styles for women, and for good reason. The lightweight, breathable knit upper strategically wraps the foot without making your toes feel cramped, while the bootie construction keeps even narrow heels snug. Underfoot, the midsole cushioning is strategically pressure mapped to provide more foam to wider areas and more flexibility at narrower points, which creates a bouncy effect that will power you through short, easy runs or marathon efforts.
Fit: True to size, Drop: 8mm, Price: $160
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39
Now in its 39th iteration, the popular Pegasus received some female foot-friendly updates. For starters, there’s now a second Zoom Air unit underfoot—so you have one at the front and one at the heel—for more rebound; the heel shape was designed to maximize landing, with extra padding at the collar to keep narrower heels in place; and the tongue is separated from the upper to give room for different feet shapes (including wider forefoots). Overall, it’s the lightest Peg yet. See the full review.
Fit: True to Size, Drop: 10mm, Price: $130
Hoka Bondi 8
The Bondi—one of Hoka’s most popular women’s shoes—is the brand’s most cushioned model, but the latest version uses a lighter midsole foam that’s also firmer, which helps women (who are generally lighter than men) get more out of that maximal cushioning. There’s a wider base underfoot and an extended heel for more stability, plus a rear crash pad that eases your stride from heel to toe while absorbing impact. While the shape isn’t based on female geometry, a memory foam collar adapts to your ankle, keeping even narrow feet secure. See the full review.
Fits: True to size, Drop: 4mm, Price: $160
Lululemon launched its foray into footwear with the Blissfeel, a running shoe built around foot scans from more than one million women. This neutral trainer can handle everything from short, easy-paced runs to the longest long runs (an all-female team for the brand wore it for 2022’s The Speed Project). The midsole, which veers towards stiff without sacrificing mobility, is a single layer of proprietary foam bolstered by a rubber outsole; and the wider forefoot and extra heel cushioning (there’s a 9.5 millimeter drop) were designed to support female biomechanics.
Fit: True to Size, Drop: 9.5mm, Price $148
adidas Ultraboost 22
In revamping the Ultraboost, an all-female team analyzed a global database of 1.2 million foot scans to determine what features would best suit women’s feet. There’s still the same maximal cushioning you’d expect from the BOOST midsole foam, but the women’s version has extra arch support and a stiff plastic insert embedded in the bottom that acts like a spring for forward momentum. A narrower fit around the heel secures the foot, while the redesigned outsole features stiffer rubber on the medial side to stabilize the gait. Read the full review.
(Editor’s Note: Mrs. Wing didn’t like the Ultraboost 22 and thought it was better as a casual shoe which reinforces what was mentioned at the beginning, that every runner’s foot is unique. Buy what feels good to you!)
Fit: Typical adidas, Drop: 10mm, Price $160
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