Research pays off

Why Adidas designing an athletic shoe for women is remarkable

(Adidas)

Adidas recently put out the “PureBoost X” — a running shoe which is specifically designed just for women. That might seem unremarkable, if it weren’t for the fact that most athletic footwear is designed for men and then later “adapted” for women, even though women’s feet are significantly different from men’s (they tend to have higher arches and narrower heels, for example).

Adidas’ designers realized that the market for female runners was growing globally, as participants of the long and short running races they were sponsoring became increasingly female. That’s why their research team finally went to work with motion-capture technology to see “how the female foot behaves.” One of the things they found was that women had a lot of expansion in the forefoot — which is why new shoe features a “floating arch,” meaning the upper part of the shoe isn’t entirely attached to the sole, so they can accommodate the “range of motion and expansion observed in the female foot.”

Research on the differences between male and female feet only dates back 20 years, but according to Benno Nigg, professor emeritus of kinesiology at the University of Calgary, research into athletic wear has been heavily biased towards men’s equipment. This is “a political question,” according to Nigg. ”It’s unbelievable. It’s only lately [in sportswear development] that if you have 200 subjects, that you have 100 female and 100 male. Typically you have 200 males.”

Read the full story at WIRED.

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