Gender differences in adult foot shape: implications for shoe design

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 Apr;33(4):605-11. doi: 10.1097/00005768-200104000-00015.


Purpose: To analyze gender differences in foot shape in a large sample of young individuals.

Methods: Univariate t-tests and multivariate discriminant analyses were used to assess 1) significant differences between men and women for each foot and leg dimension, standardized to foot length, 2) the reliability of classification into gender classes using the absolute and standardized variable sets, and 3) the relative importance of each variable to the discrimination between men and women.

Results: Men have longer and broader feet than women for a given stature. After normalization of the measurements by foot length, men and women were found to differ significantly in two calf, five ankle, and four foot shape variables. Classification by gender using absolute values was correct at least 93% of the time. Using the variables standardized to foot length, gender was correctly classified 85% of the time.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates that female feet and legs are not simply scaled-down versions of male feet but rather differ in a number of shape characteristics, particularly at the arch, the lateral side of the foot, the first toe, and the ball of the foot. These differences should be taken into account in the design and manufacture of women's sport shoes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anthropometry
  • Discriminant Analysis
  • Female
  • Foot / anatomy & histology*
  • Humans
  • Leg / anatomy & histology*
  • Male
  • Reference Values
  • Sex Factors
  • Shoes*