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!
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 with the intention of optimizing rotational traction and avoiding 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
3 Potential Benefits of Women’s Soccer Cleats
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 uncomfortable and can sometimes be caused by wearing footwear designed for more of a male foot shape.
We can never fully prevent injury in sports… BUT we can acknowledge female athletes' unique biomechanics and design footwear that makes players feel more supported at our lower ligaments and beyond.
With comfort (and fit) comes performance! Less time dealing with the side effects of poorly fitting cleats. Less time thinking about how much your feet hurt. More time on the field and thinking about what matters... the game!
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.