Why do you need women’s specific soccer cleats?

When we tell people Ida makes female-specific soccer cleats, the first question we get from both men and women, young and old, is always… “so, what’s the difference?” And it’s a fair question!

The industry has long sold us on the idea of “unisex” cleats, or even worse, they simply “shrink it and pink it” to avoid educating people about the differences in their feet and actually designing for those differences. 

When Ida’ co-founder, Laura Youngson, was leading a group of women up Mt. Kilimanjaro to play the highest altitude soccer game ever, she too was surprised to learn of the well-known anatomical differences between male and female feet, and even more shocked to learn that the industry was simply not designing for female feet.

So what are the main differences between male and female feet that make “unisex” cleats (that are actually designed for males) simply not enough? We gotchu. 

>> Related Article: Female Athlete Physiology and Injury Prevention

The 3 Main Differences Between Male and Female Feet:

1) FOOT SHAPE

Turns out, female feet tend to be more triangular in shape compared to male feet which are more rectangular. On a female foot, the ratio of toe box width to heel cup width (top of foot to bottom of foot for the non-shoe-techy folks) tends to be greater than that of a male foot. So no you don’t have “wide feet”... you have very typical feet that are slightly more triangular! Another fun fact: the widest point of a female foot is also in a different position than the widest point of a male foot.

2) HIGHER ARCHES

Some women have flat feet. Some men have higher arches. But generally, the female foot tends to have a slightly higher arch. And more often than not, cleats have little to no arch support. Ouch.

3) PRESSURE LOADS

Men and women carry their body weight differently. Hello, wider-set, child-bearing hips! This anatomical difference between genders trickles all the way down to our knees, ankles, and our feet… And improper footwear can cause unnecessary pain under the weight of our bodies that trickles all the way back up to our ankles, knees, and hips! 

What's the difference? Diagram of a male and female foot with a rectangle outline over the male foot and a triangle outline over the female foot shape.

The 5 Main Design Features of Ida’s Women’s Soccer Cleats:

1 & 2) Wider Toe Box AND a Narrower Heel Cup

Ida’s women’s soccer cleats are designed with a wider toe box to accommodate those triangular feet we talked about earlier. They’re also designed with a slightly narrower heel cup so that your heels aren’t stepping out or shifting within your cleats. Oftentimes female athletes get one or the other: a cleat that’s wide enough but too loose at the heel, or a heel that’s snug and secure but pinching at the toes. And that’s because… they were designed for male feet.

3) More Arch Support

Ida's soccer cleats and indoor shoes are designed with more arch support to minimize unnecessary foot pain and keep that ankle from collapsing inwards. The insoles are also removable should you need a custom solution.

4) Custom Stud Configuration

Speaking of custom, Ida has worked with podiatrists, physiotherapists, and sports med professionals from around the world to optimize the placement of our studs to best support female pressure loads. One area you might notice reduced pressure and pain while wearing Idas is near the sesamoid bones (two small pea-shaped bones that lie at the base of the big toe and play a key role in absorbing weight-bearing pressure, for the non-feet-techy folks again).

5) Optimal Traction  

ACL injuries are never completely preventable, but we are doing everything we can within footwear design to reduce the risk of major injury to the lower extremities. There are a variety of factors that contribute to female athletes’ heightened risk of ACL injury, but one of those is suitable footwear and rotational traction. Ida’s women’s cleats utilize shorter length and predominantly conical (round) studs rather than large blades to avoid too much rotational traction and the dreaded “stick and twist” injuries. Athletes often worry about slipping on the field but forget that there’s such a thing as too much traction as well. We aim to design for that sweet spot.

>> Related: Shop Ida’s Firm Ground Women’s Soccer Cleats

Infographic of Ida Centra cleat features. Keep your toenails with a wider toe box, no more blisters with a narrow heel cup, more support for higher arches, designed & fit for women with custom stud configuration.

3 Major Benefits of Women’s Soccer Cleats

1) Eliminate Preventable Pain Points

Soccer cleats don’t have to hurt. Things like black toes, pinching on the outside of the foot, endless blisters, or pain in your arches are often avoidable simply by designing for a different foot shape than a male foot.

2) Improve Performance on the Pitch

For all sports, well-fitting footwear, and more comfortable feet as a result, has been associated with enhanced performance; whether it be speed, power,  ball control, or simply more time on the field.

3) Reduce Risk of Major Injury

Once again, we can never fully prevent injury in sports… BUT we can acknowledge female athletes' unique biomechanics (ever heard of Q-angles or pronation?!) and design footwear reduces the risk of major injury to the ankles and knees.

 

Knowing all this, it’s crazy to think that soccer cleats have always been designed for the male foot. Female athletes have long been an afterthought when it comes to designing high performance gear that suits their biomechanics.

If your “unisex” cleats have always caused you pain, or the limited color selection in the size that actually fits has always bummed you out, we’re here to provide with more comfort and more choice when it comes to the gear that keeps you on the field.

>> Shop: Ida’s Firm Ground Women’s Soccer Cleats

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