Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Differences in Men & Women's Shoes

The Differences in Men & Women's Shoes

While some shoes can be worn by either gender, many types of dress shoes or athletic shoes are gender specific. Women are lighter, shorter and usually have a lower percentage of muscle mass then men. They also have a lighter bone weight, with softer and more flexible joints. These differences translate to differences in footwear, particularly with athletic shoes. The differences are not just for fashion, they serve to protect the wearer from injury.


    While units for sizing shoes vary around the world, women's shoes and men's shoes often have different scales for measurement. A Brannock Device can measure both the length and the width of the foot. According to this device, used in the United States, men's shoe sizes are one size larger than women's shoes. This device comes in many varieties intended for shoes for men, women and children, athletic shoes and ski boots. Each additional size is 1/3 inch longer for both men's and women's shoes. Men's shoes are also often wider than women's. The Brannock Device measures width, with each width designation separated by 3/16 of an inch.

Shoe Styles

    Men's shoes are often categorized by how they are closed or the ornaments present on the shoes. They range from oxfords with closed lacing, Blchers with open lacing, monk-straps with a buckle and strap, or slip-ons with no fastenings or lacings. Women's dress shoes are often categorized by heel type. These include high heels with a 2-inch heel or higher, kitten heels ranging from 1 1/2 to 2 inches high, wedge sandals where the ankle is higher than the toe, mules with no fitting around the heel, slingbacks secured with a strap around the heel, espadrilles with a cotton or canvas upper and ballerinas or pumps with a very low heel and and exposed instep. The majority of women's shoe styles have a narrower forefoot, or the front part of the shoe. Many other types of shoes, including clogs, sandals, slip-ons, slippers and boots, are considered unisex and vary only in size and aesthetic design.

Athletic Shoes

    Regardless of size differences, there are anatomical differences between men and women extending to their feet. These differences include women's thicker ankles and calves, higher arches and narrower heels. Women's shoes often have a greater heel bevel, or rounded tread on the end of the heel, to improve stability and cushioning. This helps compensate for increased force on the kneecap and greater external rotation at the heel strike. A woman's foot is also 3% to 4% narrower than a man's, particularly in the rear of the foot. Women's feet are also more flexible, and running shoes often provide a different tread to allow the foot to flex in a certain way. In addition the arch height of a women's foot as well as overall foot flexibility can change with varying levels of hormones, which can affect how a woman walks. As such, many women's running shoes have a specific design allowing for extra space between arch and the sole. Women's shoes also often contain greater mid-foot support to compensate for the higher arch.

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