The Parts of a Running Shoe

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The Parts of a Running Shoe

There are many different parts to a running shoe. The characteristics of each part makes a shoe one of the four types of running shoes; Neutral, Guidance, Stability, and Motion Control. 

Parts of a Running Shoe Infographic
Toe Cap  
Toe Box: The toe box is the front of the shoe where your toes are enclosed. You should be able to wiggle your toes and they shouldn’t be cramped. There should be a thumbs width between the front of the shoe and your biggest toe or about an inch. 

Upper: The upper is the outer part of the shoe that encases your foot. It can be made of a combination of mesh, synthetic materials and leather depending on your running on activity. The upper provides you with stability and comfort, without fitting to tight. 

Last: The last is the basic shape of the shoe. It can be straight last, semi-curved or curved. If you look at the bottom of the shoe and cut it in half from heel to toe, a straight last will be symmetrical on either side of the shoe. A curved shoe will more dramatically curve towards the inside of the shoe. A semi-curve is a slight noticeable curve to the inside of the shoe. A straight last is typically good for flat feet, curved for those with high arches and semi-curve is ideal for people with neutral or normal arches.

MidsoleMidsole: The midsole is a soft, shock absorbing layer located between the upper and the outsole. It provides cushioning and absorbs the shock of impact. The midsole material is generally made of EVA, a lightweight foam, or polyurethane, a more stable material. 

Outer SoleOutsole: The outsole is the durable outer part of the sole that makes contact with the ground. It is almost always made out of rubber. The sole design depends on the running activity of the shoe. A trail shoe will have thicker lugs to provide traction on off-road terrain, while a marathon shoe will have a smoother bottom for asphalt traction. Many running shoes have flex grooves that give the shoe more flexibility and bend with the natural motion of the foot. The outsole also helps absorb some of the initial shock when the foot strikes the ground. 

Heel Counter: The heel counter is the part of the shoe that keeps your heel in place and offers more stability for your foot. Heel counters come in different degrees of stability with the most stable being an external support on the outer part of the heel. This becomes especially important if your heel strikes first when running. 

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